Seems straightforward enough.  I can imagine lots of high school students or 2nd career seekers asking this question.

Of course there are lots of legitimate resources available to those who are curious, books (those things in “libraries” and “book stores”), guidance counselors, friends of friends, etc. But PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is fairly certain that the world wide intrawebanet is your #1 go-to resource for this query.

So if you Google that question you will be bombarded with 3.6 million options. HOW THE HELL CAN THERE BE 3 MILLION WAYS TO BECOME AN “INTERIOR DESIGNER”?  I digress.

For reference the general query “How do you become an Architect” results in 15+ million hits…but who’s counting?

Visiting and reading all of those sites just overwhelmed me. I made it through 2.2 million but had to take a bathroom break.  So being the hardcore scholarly researcher that I am I went to YouTube to watch a video on how to become an Interior Designer.   Let’s face it, that is most likely how all prospective Interior Designers seek out answers to this question. So my next level of investigation was to see which videos had the most hits.  Because is that not the true test of a video’s legitimacy?  Sorting by viewer count this is the winner with 176,811 views in just under 4 years;

Just to break it down that is nearly 44,000 views per each of 4 years this video has been online.  Kudos to Ms. Robeson.  If you care about such things she has created quite a on-line presence with her decorating posing as design DIY videos.  My point here is not to impugn Ms. Robeson.  Her entrepenuerial skills are quite admirable.

It is clear that Ms. Robeson caters to the innately qualified who wish to claim the title ‘Interior Designer” without consideration for such pesky things like….oh…an education, or an apprenticeship, earning credentials via an examination (of any type) or committing to ethical practice by membership in any one of our many professional organizations.  But that is her right.  She can do that and she does it well.  But 44,000 views per year?  Back to my point.

For those of us who claim the title “Interior Designer” by earning a degree, working as an apprentice, studying our butts off for any number of professional competency examinations and paying copious amounts of dues monies to our professional organizations I wonder how our effort to define that path to the title “Interior Designer” compares.  How do our “How To” videos rate on the viewership scale?  After all do we not want our pathway to status as an “Interior Designer” to be equally recognized?

That is somewhat of rhetorical question because the domain of “Interior Designer” is so broad-much to our chagrin.  Just because we say it is one thing, that does not mean that the public perception of “Interior Design” matches our particular definition  Try as we might to make “Interior Design” match the above definition PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER maintains (see previous 300+ posts) that we have lost that battle.  But let’s not get too off topic here.  The focus here is how those who seek a career in Interior Design actually find their way through the labyrinth of potential pathways.

So if go to YouTube and type in “How do I become  an Interior Designer?” you will note that not one video represents what we professional interior designers might consider legitimate or professional.  Most are independent DIY’s or for profit schills..ooops sorry I meant “schools”, all trying to persuade the inquisitive to their website.  Actually one of the most informative and relevant videos that tries to answer the basic query was created by an Interior Design student;

Kudos to Ms. Paterson.  She has 26,000 + hits in one year.  Wow.

Makes me wonder why, with all of our resources, that the profession as represented by  ASID, IIDA, IDEC, CIDA, NCIDQ, IDC, CCIDC, IDEX, cannot create a video resource that will help direct the inquisitive down the path to professional status as a “Interior Designer?”.

You know one that matches the Interior Design we proclaim to practice.

Maybe we could pool our marketing budgets and hire Ms. Paterson.

P.S. 8/5/16- Hmmmm.  Here is an answer from Ireland for what it’s worth;



I appreciate Robert Nieminen’s support of the ongoing effort to regulate the profession of Interior Design . I agree with all of his points regarding the unification of the profession and the efforts by the anti-regulation contingent to stop any and all ID legislation.  As far as Utah’s new ID practice law we can claim it as a battle won but I am concerned by his broad brush definition of “Interior Design Laws of North America” as represented by this map (source unknown-attribute to Interiors & Sources) Sorry the resolution is limited.


(Attributed to Interiors & Sources?)

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER would like to see such graphic depictions of our efforts to regulate the profession truly represent those laws that allow qualified Interior Designers to practice to the fullest extent of their abilities.  That includes the ability to sign and seal documents to legally obtain building permits as necessary to fully own one’s design work.  While it looks more impressive to apply a color to all states with some form of Interior Design law or act in place, when you actually consider our right to work as peers with or independent of other licensed design professionals in each of these states the battle field is far less impressive.  And let’s not forget our allies in Canada who have their own similar battles.


Color in Utah green-yeah! But read the Utah bill and consider that it does sanction the title “Commercial Interior Design” and the ID scope is limited. A victory none the less.

We have to stop depicting any and all ID legislation as legislation that is good for the entire profession (it isn’t) one, and two, we have stop looking at ID Regulation as nothing but a means to distinguish us from the unqualified decorator wannabe’s. That is a battle that was lost years ago.  Sure it makes us feel good to see all of those states colored in….but is it a true assessment of the battle?

So if we are going to look at this as a “war” we need to be working from the same battlefield map with a cohesive strategy to win our right to work at a minimum.  Otherwise what is the point?


There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that humans (at least in the U.S.) spend 85%-90% of their time indoors¹  While this is old news to many and numerous environmental/behavioral scientists,  design scholars, IAQ advocates and professional organizations have referenced this fact, I was reminded of the importance of the “design” of interior space after reading this missive from the American Institute of Architects;

While we could spend decades arguing and investing intellectual capital trying to prove which profession is best suited to design interior space, at the expense of actually improving the quality of those interior spaces, PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER wishes that we all could learn to play nicely in the indoor sandbox.

I know that there are numerous examples of multi-disciplinary collaborations in which Architects have relied on Interior Designers to help craft healthy and safe interior environments that enhance the client’s edifice (let’s not loose sight of who really “owns” the inside of our buildings) and their quality of life.  I also know there are qualified Interior Designers that have engaged Architects and Landscape Architects to help them create a holistic building design solution.  Sure there are exceptions to those rules in which a sole practicing architect has created a successful edifice in which he/she designed the landscape, the shell and the inside spaces including F.F.&E, lighting, finishes, hardware, accessories, artwork, etc.  However, this occurs primarily in the residential realm which truth be known is actually dominated by builders and developers not trained as architects or designers.  We should all be concerned that whoever creates our interior spaces is trained and qualified to do so and while architects may often be the lead on such efforts they know that this is simple due diligence in assembling their team of experts.

This should be the crux of the above AIA disinformation campaign.

In addition any architect worth their training knows that the design of new edifices is a holistic process that equally considers the exterior with the interior and the relationship between the two realities.  It should not be an inside-out or outside-in proposition.  This paradigm certainly changes if the exterior is existing and the design effort address only the interior spaces and functions. Kind of throws the inside-out/outside-in model out the window (most likely specified by an “exterior architect”) doesn’t it?  Yes, yes I am well aware of the contextual issues inherent in the restoration or re-purposing of an existing building and those are important.  But again any qualified designer knows this.

Can we just stop the territorial (literally) pissing (figuratively) matches and accept that the complexities inherent in the creation of safe and healthy interior spaces require the expertise of many qualified design professionals?

Wishful thinking I know.

NOTE 1: In case you have been living in a cave (which BTW is “indoors”) or your head has been in the sand (which if beach based…you may want to keep in place) here is some proof:



Time for Interior Design to Split

For those of you who still visit this site, or receive notifications, you will note that PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has been quiet for the past year.  Several reasons;  First, I have not had time.  Second, not much has been happening on the Interior Design identity front-good or bad.  Third, I am tired of posting the same old diatribes.  Fourth, since I do not tweet or promote my thoughts via  wider social media I find this forum….blogging…rather limited in reach.

If nothing else it helps me to frame my thoughts about this much maligned and misunderstood profession.  If it has any influence above and beyond that then great.

I continue to serve the profession via two of the three ‘E’s (education/experience/examination) and for the time being, find that my time is better invested in that regard.  So unless something earth shattering comes across my Interior Design Identity Radar (IDIR) this will be my last post for a while.

Remember the concept of Mitosis?  “During mitosis one cell divides once to form two identical cells. The major purpose of mitosis is for growth and to replace worn out cells” ( ).

We have spent the past 45+ years trying to make Interior Design into what we think it should be.  It has been so much to so many.  From the innately qualified interior decorators to the licensed professionals who practice at the highest levels of the code regulated building design professions we have all claimed “Interior Design” to be our very own by title and performance.  Some of us have tried to regulate the title. Some of us have abandoned the title altogether (shout out to my IA brethren/sistren) while others have railed against any effort to own the title and redefine it to make it their own.

How has that worked out for any of us?

The world (at least here in the U.S.) still considers Interior Design to be an unessential occupation, a flight of fancy requiring little more than an artistic flair and eye for color. Of course there are exceptions…but you cannot prove my overall assessment to be unfounded.  45+ years…..

Suffice it to say we have done a poor job of defining our value to society. 45+ years.

Interior Design is tired…and may well be “worn out”.  Growth has been limited but the potential is unlimited.  I have used many metaphors to describe our conflicted identity, from familial to militaristic to camping to athletics.  I grow weary trying to conjure another. So let’s try genetic science.

While much of the world endeavors to adapt to an exponentially increasing level of technological advancement, subsequent specialization, and daily disruptions to the status quo we have…well we still cling to our comfy pillow. Why can’t society just accept us for who we are?  Rhetorical question.  Pillow getting a bit flat after 45+ years?

Well here is my FINAL plea for the profession of Interior Design to go biological and split.  It is time Interior Design to become just plain “Interior Design” to include everyone who decorates and designs interior spaces that are not regulated by code, ordinance, standard, law, or any other legal oversight and those who choose to practice “code regulated Interior Design”¹.  The distinction is clear.  Not everyone understands the fine line between interior decoration and interior design.  But most people understand and respect those whose work affects their health, safety and/or improves their overall welfare vis-a-vis regulations and laws.

This is our cleave;  Not “designers can decorate but decorators cannot design”. Not “I am a state certified interior designer and you’re not”.  Not “I went to design school and you did not”.  But simply I am an Interior Designer and you are a code regulated Interior Designer¹.  If we make this our message, or mantra, we can use this simple distinction to easily and effectively self-regulate the professional domain.

NOTE 1: Recent ID legislation (Utah, Oregon, Washington) has contained the title “Commercial Interior Designer” as a means to help policy makers grasp the nuances between those who practice code regulated Interior Design and those who do not.  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER agrees with this semantic ploy but urges us all to fully consider the implications of that distinction. Some regulated Interior Design is quasi-residential in nature…..and many larger communities regulate residential construction in some fashion.   Ultimately PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER really does not care what we call our new form of Interior Design. We just need to adopt a model title and our professional organizations need to adopt their preference and self-regulate based on this split.  There is a way.  Who has the will?

P.S. Code Regulated Interior Design Update.

Pennsylvania just introduced a bill incorporating “Code Regulated Interior Design” in its language.

Now if they can just loose the “Interior Design” nomenclature altogether, other than to define it as something we are not, we’ll be on to something.





PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER will miss Miss Morrow and her Institute for Justice funded campaign to deregulate the profession of Interior Design….NOT.