I say “amateur” and you still say “professional”

Continued pondering on the issue of the interior design profession and its professional identity crisis.

Who are we to say that;







Seems pretty arrogant of us to claim they are not. Seems even more arrogant of us to demand that they stop making such claims until they take and pass the NCIDQ, or equal, exam.  Hell Ralph Lauren’s pocket change exceeds my lifelong net worth by a factor of 10.  If Ralph Lauren wants to call himself an interior designer who are we to say no?

Unfortunately it seems many people firmly believe that professional status is simply self-proclaimed. If one acts professional then they must be “professional”.  Many trees have been sacrificed by scholars, respected practitioners, admired elder statesmen and me trying to rationalize this issue. Maybe it is just TMI (too much information)…..certainly John Q. Public does not have the time to ponder the nuances of the fine line between interior decoration, interior design and NCIDQ certified/licensed interior design. Unfortunately,  Johnny Q. is too consumed by the interior design/interior decoration pabulum being force fed into his cerebrum by all facets of the popular media to expend any synaptic effort beyond pushing buttons on the remote control and/or keyboard (this assumes that page turning exceeds his small motor skill abilities). Do we give John Public too much credit? Is it his job to figure it out or is it our job to TELL him?

The answer seems obvious to me. John Q. Public needs to be told that we are not typical amateur interior designers…we are different (not better), we are professionals, and we can prove it.

The real question is not what an interior designer is, or does, but when does an amateur interior decorator, no matter how rich, creative, beautiful or handsome posing as an interior designer, become a professional interior designer?  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has had some interesting discussions lately regarding my posts here as well as on LinkedIn as to the issue of “professional” status and the profession of interior design.

Fact is no matter how we spin it. Interior design is what it is. We are not going to change it to be what we say it is, professional, certified, registered or otherwise.  As modern medicine evolved from natural holistic healing, holistic healing did not change. A new paradigm emerged. Funny how holistic healing is still around and actually has increasing value…except for the use of powdered endangered animal penises to increase libido thing….but I digress. So how is interior design’s evolution from interior decorating any different?  I say we are at a point where we have established a distinct hybrid, or paradigmatic shift, from interior design. Certainly we have established a clear and vetted path to professional status.  But we simply cannot say that Kelly Wearstler  is not an interior designer because she is not a professional, licensed, registered or certified. That dog just won’t hunt.  Unless of course we clearly define what it is to be a “professional” interior designer. We have the professional paradigm in place. We just don’t know how to promote it.

Is the answer simply in defining our brand?  Or is the answer pursing practice regulation to sort out the amateurs from the vetted professionals ? I think you know my stand on licensure. I am here to talk about our brand identity.

There have been some attempts at defining our brand. Should we call ourselves something else…interior spatial engineers, interior architectural designers…and on and on?  Some of us have tried to distill the NCIDQ definition of interior design down to an elevator ride. In PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s mind that is too long. If we do this right we should be able to tell people, when queried as to our occupation, “I am a certified professional interior designer” at which point the all-knowing light should appear above their heads. ‘Ahh yes I understand and respect what you and your profession do for me, my family and society in general you have my complete admiration”.

Wouldn’t it be nice?

Is it really as simple as defining our professional brand and promoting that brand to society? PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is convinced it can be. We just have to have the courage to do it.

If we don’t do it the amateurs will do it for us. And we are not going to like the outcome.

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