PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER loves to see people give away interior design service. Makes me feel proud of my profession and I just can’t wait to tell my students how valued their knowledge and skills are in the real world. Oh and this free stuff will really make the general public appreciate our value to society in a way that will make our efforts to license the practice of interior design a mere formality…NOT!

But seriously I understand people have to work and if you have to work for one of these companies I hope that as the interior designer you had no say in this particular business model. What IIDA and ASID in particular need to do is to take a public stand against free interior design service. This is why interior designers pay membership dues. Hello!

P.S. Now that I have struck a nerve with a couple of folks let me add that the only time a professional should provide Pro-Bono service is for those that truly need the service but may not be able to afford such service. If we devalue the service by giving it away then it is worthless. Got it?

P.P.S. I firmly support that interior decoration service should be free because the goal of decoration is to sell stuff. If you did not sell furniture, surface finishes and ornamentation or art and accessories then there is no decoration. Got it? Good!


  1. Not exactly free and what’s the big deal? They want you to buy their furniture at 70% Markup. The Pottery Barn “free designer” is not going to take you to a Design Center or Ethan Allen. Duh!

    And, 99% of Residential Professional Interior Designers charge markup in addition to design fees. In fact, most of their profits come from markup on the products they sell.


    1. at my Danville Interior Designers
      Gallery I have heard about some
      interior designers
      giving away their services and this is sad it lowers
      the value in the clients eyes.


  2. Why Not Free Design? Avatar
    Why Not Free Design?

    At least the Interior Designers at Pottery Barn get a salary (although they are probably on commission). Better than working at Starbucks after you spent 4 years getting that K-State Interior Design degree.

    Why do they have net and list prices at the Chicago Mart and other Design Centers? So designers can charge markup and sell furniture. That is the business most of us are in.


    1. There is not a “profession” in the world that intentionally gives its intellectual capitol away, regardless if they are screwing the client on other aspects of the transaction to make up for their ethical lapse….and I am not talking about prostitutes here. Just because decorators, to the trade only showrooms and big box decorator retail practice this form of smoke and mirror economics does not mean it is acceptable to those of us who actually assign some value to our knowledge. I am glad that you can accept and apparently justify the practice.
      I did acknowledge that some retail sales people posing as interior designers may be doing so because options for legitimate professional design positions are nil.
      The practice of free design to sell product at unreasonable mark-up is one of the more obvious decorator tricks that the profession of interior design needs to disavow itself of quickly.

      Happy decorating!


    2. Correction- interior decorators posing as professional interior designers are the ones who have no qualms pushing unnecessary furniture, artwork and accessories on unsuspecting clients for exhorbitant mark-up while claiming that design is gratis. If you do not see the ethical/moral dilemma there then we’re in different planes of reality.
      And if any of our graduates freely choose to work at Starbucks then that is their choice. However if they are forced to work there due to economic reality I can only hope they find their way to a design role in which the value of design is honored and that they are duly compensated for their investment in what is a highly regarded undergraduate design degree.


      1. Unethical Interior Designer Avatar
        Unethical Interior Designer

        So what you’re saying is that 99% of the residential interior designers in the United States are unethical. Including all of the licensed, NCIDQ designers out there who practice residential interior design and buy merchandise through Design Centers. THEY ALL CHARGE MARKUP.

        I dare you to do a survey of the Design Centers in the US if you don’t believe me.

        You’re doing a grave injustice to all of your students if you are telling them to run their business on pure Design Fees. They will end up working in Starbucks or worse yet, working for an unethical Residential Interior Designer who charges markup.

        Most Designers disclose their markup to their clients (or tell them it’s none of their business). Does Bloomingdales tell their clients their costs? How is it unethical if the client and designer agree via a contract that this is the way they wish to work together.

        Who are you to tell designers how they should run their businesses?


  3. Let me answer your question with a question.
    Do you think interior designers should not charge for interior design service?
    That is the point of this thread afterall.
    If the designer who sells product is honest in their mark-up of product to a client I think that is fine. But whoring your design fee and then marking 2x list to realize excessive profit is unethical. Don’t care how you justify it.


  4. P.S. Unethical Designer. I do not have a problem with “Mark-up” I understand that is how retail works. If you would stick to the point of the thread which is giving away a professional service FREE I think we can have a rational discussion.
    Finally if you want to consider me an arrogant asshole to tell designers that they should not give away design service for free. I am just fine with that.
    Thanks for posting


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