I have been thinking about this issue way more than most sane people……..Unfortunately defining the professional domain of Interior Design is a mind numbingly complex, confusing, and completely debatable issue. I certainly understand why many of my peers avoid it like the plague.

In our case (the United States) we have convinced ourselves that it is the government’s responsibility to tell us who is a qualified interior designer and who is not. We have been trying for 35+ years to obtain Uncle Sam’s oversight to help us weed out the interior designer wannabe’s. That effort has caused an insurmountable backlash that, those of us who care about such things, find deeply troubling. I have spent much of this blog waxing (what the hell does that mean anyway) unpoetic about the problems inherent in pursuing government regulation of professional issues that are clearly the responsibility of the profession to deal with.

In my mind we (the profession) have become blindly devoted to a form of professional legitimization that has actually caused more negative public relations than progress. Despite what you might think of the anti-regulation effort -do not think that it is ineffective or short lived.

If you are unaware that there is a concerted effort to de-professionalize Interior Design you are welcome to inform yourselves here;

Now assuming that you look at both sides of this issue objectively I hope that you might possibly reach the same conclusion as Professionalinteriordesigner.  What we have here is an absolute debacle.  As long as we pursue government oversight of our professional domain we can expect a concerted and effective push-back. So much so that we are creating enemies out of allies. Never mind the expense of untold financial and intellectual capital on this effort. This is just stupid.

So I have been looking at how others have pursued professional legitimization of interior design. Yes it is in fact a global issue. This is best defined by this organization;

If Professionalinteriordesigner were to suddenly be anointed Supreme Leader of the Interior Design profession I would make IFI the de facto representative organization for the profession and I would instill a global credential system that would provide indisputable and globally defensible professional legitimization. 

Some call me a dreamer.


  1. I have to agree on a couple of things:
    1) “What we have here is an absolute debacle. ”
    2) ” there is a concerted effort to de-professionalize Interior Design”

    What I would question is the idea of IFI being a “global” “de facto representative organization for the profession” somehow fixing anything at all.

    1) Other professions are regulated successfully but that is not a very convincing argument
    2) Why would IFI (I have nothing against IFI, it could be IFI or any other organization) not suffer the same push backs state regulations currently face. Better yet, what would make a “designer” want to comply with any such voluntary credentialing system?
    3) At first, it may be fine but in the end, wouldn’t IFI have to impose similar things as states regulations do and would have to charge designers yearly dues to stay in business and fund there PR efforts to educate the public, etc.
    4) You would end up with all the drawbacks of the current system (assuming you see it that way, which I don’t) and none of the benefits of the current system (no way to enforce anything since it would basically be a voluntary participation.)

    I personally think that having the state give you a license based on a set of agreed upon criteria (education, experience) is not the problem. Is the system perfect, of course not but the problem, I think, has more to do with the public having no clue what an interior designer does (besides what they see on HGTV) and the design community being a fairly “young” profession with no unified voice.

    I much prefer the idea of “decorator” versus “registered interior designer”. It is straight forward, easy for the public to understand (with some fairly basic PR efforts) and would allow the professional to decide how “professional” they want to be and provide the public with a clear understanding of what to expect. Think of it this way…if you go in for a facial…you might be “fine” with someone who has limited training (though in most states, it is a regulated profession as well) but if you go in for a massage or plastic surgery…you definitely want the person to know what they are doing! If I were to re-think furniture placement or color selection in my living room, I may be fine working with a “decorator”, but would certainly want to hire a “registered interior designer” for a complete kitchen and bath remodel.


    1. Why would IFI (I have nothing against IFI, it could be IFI or any other organization) not suffer the same push backs state regulations currently face. Better yet, what would make a “designer” want to comply with any such voluntary credentialing system?

      The problem with government regulation of “interior design” has been that we (the NCIDQ certified) were FORCING ALL interior designers to either follow the education/experience/examination route or cease and desist using the title “Interior Designer”. It was not a choice. In short, a few changed the rules for the many. Consequently a lot of people were not happy about it. Sure it happens…..anytime a segment of an emerging profession desires to create higher standards there will be collateral dissatisfaction from those that prefer the status quo. That is why we were forced in most legislative efforts to grandfather in anybody that could claim “experience”, prove that they had a pulse and that they could pony up the requisite license fee. Not only did the government water down the qualifications for a license they also told us that the license really only allowed us to legally use the title “registered” or “certified” interior designer. And we still did not clearly define and legally protect the act of designing interior space. So we gather up all of this steam and charge into our respective state houses and we demand that the government tell us (the public) who can practice interior design and who cannot. And if we are lucky we get told that the best Uncle Sam can do for us is to allow us exclusive rights to the title of “registered” or “certified” (precedent is being set that designers will have to call themselves “ State Registered Interior Designers” as in Indiana Registered Interior Designer or Florida Reistered Interior Designer) interior designers while the title “interior designer” can still be claimed by anybody with a flair for color. Sorry but that sure seems like a waste of time, energy and effort…READY- SHOOT- AIM
      Call me silly or naive or both (silleve or naivilly?) but it seems to me that if we (the certified interior designers) would create a trademarked/copyrighted credentialing process and an accrediting body to oversee the process (ala USGBC- ) we could easily weed out the qualified from the unqualified and it would be by choice not by government force. Anybody that claims that they are a credentialed/accredited Interior Designer when they are not can be quickly and easily reprimanded (sued) in a civil court. WAM BAM THANK YOU MAM!
      This is what professional organizations are supposed to do. They are to draw a hard line in the professional sandbox by accrediting education, instituting apprenticeships/training, certifying baseline skills and knowledge via examination, raising standards, enforcing ethical behavior, continually educating its members, promoting and validating the value of the profession to society and strictly enforcing adherence to all of the above.
      While they do serve the profession in many of these regards neither ASID or IIDA are able to properly act as “THE” representative organization for the entire profession. Hence it is my hope/dream/hallucination (call it what you will) that an organization such as IFI (or even a unified ASID/IIDA- I don’t care) will create such a professional structure on a global basis.

      This organization would welcome all who choose to abide by its rules.
      This organization would not differentiate between residential interior design, commercial interior design or interior architecture.
      This organization would clearly establish it’s accredited members as the global standard for the professional practice of Interior Design
      This organization would promote the value of our knowledge and skills such that society would have no doubt what we can do and how we do it.
      This organization would pave the way for practice regulation and government oversight should the profession deem it necessary.

      That is why designers would want to comply with a voluntary credentialing system.

      Thanks for your comments.


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