RESIDENTIAL vs. COMMERCIAL- IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

The idealist in me says “NO”.  A qualified interior designer is able to properly design interior spaces regardless of the function. Does not matter if it is a space for living, a space for healing, a space for fellowship or a space for work.  There are single family residences with spectacular office spaces and commercial grade kitchens. We all know that hospitality design is a deft blend of residential amenities within commercial functions. I just worked on a new hospice project in which the interior design had to convey a sense of “home” while providing institutional services that one might find in a serious healthcare environment..albeit not for healing purposes.   Interior space is interior space- right? 

Well unfortunately the “profession” has allowed itself to become bi-polar. From HGTV to the platforms of ASID & IIDA the die for two interior types is cast. And now given the semantic hair-splitting in Florida anybody with a pulse may practice residential interior design while some elements of “non-residential” design are still regulated.  The pessimist in me says that this dichotomy is one of our fundamental roadblocks in our effort to gain respect.  So what are we to do?

If we collectively agree that government regulation is our preferred model of advancing our profession we must make sure that all legislation does not result in the verbal hair splitting that usually occurs with such bureaucracy. There are as many terms for regulated interior designers as there are ID related statutes. I know this is difficult if not impossible. That is just one reason that I do not favor government regulation as a means to sort out the qualified from the not. None the less if we proceed with this business model to promote our professional brand we need to be very diligent and focused on the intended outcomes. We can not allow the profession to be parceled as some convoluted legislation may require.

An alternative would be to realize that our greatest strength is in our ability to improve peoples lives regardless of the setting and to promote that strength.  This is a truly unique trait that by default distinguishes us from those that dwell only in residential decoration yet insist that what they do is actually interior design.  It isn’t!

4 thoughts on “RESIDENTIAL vs. COMMERCIAL- IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

  1. Interior Design is a profession, therefore it needs to be regulated as such. Calling yourself an Interior Designer should carry the same weight as calling yourself an Architect or a Professional Engineer. I believe the only way to ensure that this happens is to educate the legislation on the value of what we do, as well as, the fact that we are able to improve the value of life and well-being of people in the spaces that we design.

  2. Again, I think the Interior Design profession is far too diverse to regulate. I would be curious …are Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers and Electirical Engineers regulated under one entity? I don’t think so.
    How do we seperate and define the various “levels” of interior design to enable an effective regulation.
    I have personally been “educating” Legislators for over twenty years. There aren’t any two that would/could agree what an interior designer is or does. We can’t define such a broad spectrum of our profession ourselves. How can we expect Legislators, or the general public for that matter, to understand who we are?

  3. Thanks for the comments. If we could redirect all of the collective intellectual and financial capital that we are investing in government regulation toward an internal public relations effort I am sure we could come up with a better way.

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