Interior Design Hasn’t Changed- We Have!

More on the interior design campground:

All students should decide what camp you want to join. You do not need to join right now– but as you progress through your academic career you will need to decide if you want to earn the right to be a “professional” interior designer or if you simply want to pretend you are one.  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER described 3 different camps in his previous post. They were;

  1. The Pro-Legislation Camp. Supports “Professional” status with licensure being the capstone professional status
  2. The Anti-Legislation Camp. Wishes to de-professionalize the profession so that all can practice regardless of qualifications.
  3. The Self- Certification/Regulation first, Legislate Later Camp. Supports Education/Experience/Examination and professional credentials as a starting point. Licensure may or may not be a necessary status but should be approached with great caution and undivided support.

Actually there is a hybrid 4th camp. The I Don’t Have Time to Deal with This Crap I am too Busy Making A Living Camp. More on these campers later.

So in my previous post I mentioned that “despite our 35 years of legislative efforts to affect it, interior design has not changed. But we have.  This is a key distinction.” What the hell did I mean?

The effort to license the practice of interior design began some 35+/- years ago. The aim or goal of the effort was to distinguish the “qualified” from the not by using the government (state level licensure) to make that determination.  Essentially a group of ASID/IBD (Institute of Business Designers now IIDA) interior designers wanted to change the definition of interior design so that only certified ASID/IBD member could call themselves interior designers.  They were hell bent on changing the title and the act of “interior design”.  As recently as the late 1990’s it was a dictate of several pro-legislation groups such as the one representing New York state (IDLNY).  They even had a name for it which surprised PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER. To wit;

“While energy was focused on “democratizing” and broadening the base of the board of IDLNY, most of the time, energy and resources were marshaled behind the development of legislation that would mandate that any and all interior designers in the state who wanted to offer their services to the public as interior designer would need to become licensed by the State Education Department, the same state agency that regulates the design professions: architecture, engineering, landscape architecture and surveying. This legislation become know euphemistically as, “Owning the Title, Interior Designer”, and groundwork was laid at the end of the 1990’s to create forums and Town Hall meetings for the concept to be shared and debated with professional interior designers throughout the state.”

Essentially what IDLNY and the entire pro-legislation movement wanted was ownership of the title and, by default, the act of interior design.  Well of course this did not sit too pretty with the old school interior decorators cross practicing as interior designers. Nor did it sit too well with the Architecture crowd….oooh did it not sit well with the AIA. 

Anyway the Pro-Legislation camp continued with their battle plan for 20 some years with only marginal success. Most legislative efforts for licensing got watered down to mere title acts (Of course the state will acknowledge “certified” or state “registered” interior designers if you pay them) with overly generous grandfather clauses to appease the old timers- but in the end anybody with a pulse could still call themselves an interior designer. Well Duh! Some legislative efforts particularly in Alabama and Florida were influential enough to implement practice legislation for interior designers. Alabama’s practice act has been declared unconstitutional and Florida’s is under threat as we speak.  So as of 2 years ago even ASID realized that legislating the term interior design was a very expensive and losing effort. They have since acquiesced and clarified their position.  ASID will not support any legislative efforts that regulate the term interior design. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is unsure what IIDA’s position is but suspects that is in line with ASID. However, now that the licensing focus has shifted toward permitting privileges for interior designers, often at the chagrin of the AIA, it will be interesting to see if IIDA fully supports that effort. This is still evolving. Stay Tuned.

Point is- WE HAVE NOT CHANGED INTERIOR DESIGN….Most Americans still think all we do is pick colors, arrange furniture, hang art and generally decorate. Interior Design continues to be confused with Interior Decoration day in and day out…much like 35 years ago.

What we have done though is create a solid basis for professional status as defined by all of those experts that I listed in my previous post.  Those of us who have followed the vetted and accepted path toward professional status to educate, train and follow ethical business practices have created a professional domain that is more than interior design as being practiced by most interior designers…we are different-not them. We are evolving as certified professionals- not them. They have not changed- we have.

When we all get our brains around that simple truth maybe we can proceed with our professional development in a far less onerous way. Maybe we can even eek out a smidge of respect for our hard earned knowledge and skills without relying on Uncle Sam to do it for us.

I hope that makes sense and enables you to choose your campground accordingly.

6 responses to “Interior Design Hasn’t Changed- We Have!”

  1. Boston Decorator Avatar
    Boston Decorator

    How many of your K State Interior Design students actually got jobs this year?

    If Kelly Wearstler or Michael Smith (working for the Obama’s on the White House) offered them a job, should the accept it?

    Should they turn down their job offer (if they can get one) if their employer never even heard of NCIDQ?

    Should your students hold out and keep that waiter/waitress job until an NCIDQ designer decides to hire them?

    Yes or No?


    1. Oh yeah… answer your questions;
      Yes…….No and Maybe


  2. Where our students get jobs, how and from who is totally up to them. Once they have their diploma they are on their own. All I can do is hope they make the right choices. I have nothing against Ms. Wearstler or Mr. Smith. But my students will know enough to check their credentials and to consider the consequences of accepting an offer of employment from them, or you or Mr. Magoo.


  3. Boston Decorator Avatar
    Boston Decorator

    Hey Mike:

    Thanks for answering Mike and I realize that the question was a bit of trap, so here’s a followup.

    If they land that job, should they ask for time off to take the NCIDQ test or to attend a rally at the statehouse to fight for ID legislation? Especially ID legislation that could harm their employers firm?


  4. Well Decorator if you knew anything about “PROFESSIONAL” interior design firms you would know that many give time off to take the ARE and/or the NCIDQ. Many will pay for it if passed for an extra incentive. So your question is moot. Now I do not know of any firms, interior designer, architect, decorator or otherwise that will give time off for personal political activities of any kind. Again your question is moot.
    If you have a point why don’t you just get to it.


  5. Oh yeah Decorator, If you do come back and want to engage in a rational discussion please read my blog postings regarding licensing and regulation, or for brevity sake you can read “about me” at the top. Once you understand that I do not support licensing of interior designers you will find that your point again is totally moot.
    P.S. Since you have obviously drunk the IDPC Kool Aid can you tell me what flavor it is? I am guessing sour grape.


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