Protecting whose right to practice?

WHAT HAPPENS IN FLORIDA DOES NOT STAY IN FLORIDA!
You will hear two reasons that we should support ID legislation; one, to protect our right to practice and two, to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.  Unfortunately we can not have it both ways and the anti-regulation proponents are taking advantage of our flawed plan. 
 Now that the litigious dust has settled in the Florida Interior Design World (why is everything in Florida a “world”?) we are starting to see how the pro-regulation and the anti-regulation sides are claiming victory. From the Interior Design Association Foundations website we see that the opinion issued by Judge Hinkle does in fact leave those aspects of the practice act for “licensed” interior designers intact. But what does that actually mean and is it really a “victory”?  Granted this legislation has been in place since 1994 but not until now has the Professional Interior Designer been able to really wrap his cashew sized brain around the implications of the legislation for the entire profession. First and foremost this is about us and not them. But I digress…So according to IDAF;
 
 Without the restrictions on the title “interior designer,” the interior design law does not take anything away from non-licensees, but opens up an area of practice previously reserved only for licensed architects prior to the law’s passage in 1994. The 1994 interior design law added, for consumers, the option of using interior designers or architects for the same services, as long as they are within the statutory definition of ‘interior design.”                               ( http://www.idaf.us/index.html )
 
From the 2009 Florida Statutes this is the definition of Interior Design in that state;
 
8)  “Interior design” means designs, consultations, studies, drawings, specifications, and administration of design construction contracts relating to nonstructural interior elements of a building or structure. “Interior design” includes, but is not limited to, reflected ceiling plans, space planning, furnishings, and the fabrication of nonstructural elements within and surrounding interior spaces of buildings. “Interior design” specifically excludes the design of or the responsibility for architectural and engineering work, except for specification of fixtures and their location within interior spaces. As used in this subsection, “architectural and engineering interior construction relating to the building systems” includes, but is not limited to, construction of structural, mechanical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, ventilating, electrical, or vertical transportation systems, or construction which materially affects lifesafety systems pertaining to firesafety protection such as fire-rated separations between interior spaces, fire-rated vertical shafts in multistory structures, fire-rated protection of structural elements, smoke evacuation and compartmentalization, emergency ingress or egress systems, and emergency alarm systems.
  
Here is the definition of the scope of regulated interior design practice in that state:
 
 (1)  A registered interior designer is authorized to perform “interior design” as defined in s. 481.203. Interior design documents prepared by a registered interior designer shall contain a statement that the document is not an architectural or engineering study, drawing, specification, or design and is not to be used for construction of any load-bearing columns, load-bearing framing or walls of structures, or issuance of any building permit, except as otherwise provided by law. Interior design documents that are prepared and sealed by a registered interior designer may, if required by a permitting body, be submitted for the issuance of a building permit for interior construction excluding design of any structural, mechanical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, ventilating, electrical, or vertical transportation systems or that materially affect lifesafety systems pertaining to firesafety protection such as fire-rated separations between interior spaces, fire-rated vertical shafts in multistory structures, fire-rated protection of structural elements, smoke evacuation and compartmentalization, emergency ingress or egress systems, and emergency alarm systems.      ( http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0481/ch0481.htm )
 
I have several concerns with the scope of this legislation and the implications for the broader professional domain. I may be off base but don’t throw me out yet….
 
All of this seems much ado about nothing more than obtaining permitting privileges by licensed interior designers for a very limited scope of commercial interior work.  With apologies to the independent interior design practitioners – that’s how I see it and quite frankly the amount of effort required to allow this privilege to those who choose to practice within this narrow scope of contract design far exceeds the benefit.
 
As I have said I believe the effort to regulate the practice of Interior Design started as a noble effort to advance the status of the profession (read weed out the decorators) and to provide right to practice opportunities for limited scope independent practitioners (read furnish and decorate commercial interior space without the oversight of a registered/licensed professional). But I also believe that in the 40 +/- years since this effort began that things have changed and blind devotion to the legislative paradigm is actually doing more harm to the profession than good. If a hammer is your only tool…everything starts looking like a nail.
  
Now on the other end of the professional spectrum we have ASID which is trying mightily to support legislative efforts while at the same time appeasing it’s residential designer base.  ASID has been the strongest proponent of ID legislative efforts since day 1. Now I was not directly privy to those early discussions but I was practicing in Florida in the early 1980’s and I knew quite a few of the efforts leaders. I believe the effort was a noble attempt to validate the emerging profession and to legitimize the practice thereof within the entrenched limitations of permitting policies. In short the Interior Designers felt that they should not always have to be subservient to licensed professionals (Architects and Engineers) in order to perform mere surface and furnishings design efforts in commercial spaces.  Again I can appreciate the desire to perform services that you are qualified to perform…..but at what cost?  The A.I.A. is a formidable opponent and until they become an ally instead of an opponent we will never realize progress  on the legislative front. Back to my point.
 
I have noticed over time that ASID’s position on licensing has evolved to one of supporting legislation that protects the rights of interior designers to practice to one of not supporting legislation that limits the rights of interior designers, to wit;
 
ASID does not support legislation that limits, restricts or prevents anyone from using the title “interior design” or “interior designer.”
 
I thought the whole licensure effort was started to prevent just “anyone” from using the title.
 
So ASID what exactly to you support?
 
 
 
 
 
 

  

 
 

 

  

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