Florida Interior Design Deregulation-Okay Let’s Think About This

Florida lawmakers have whittled the list of regulated professions to be de-regulated down to 20.  Interior design is still on that list along with hair braiders, auctioneers, yacht brokers and body wrappers- go figure.  While there is much misunderstanding and misinformation on the issue of licensing for interior designers it appears that the Interior Design Association Foundation is trying to clarify the real impact of Florida House Bill 5005.  It is a matter of independent Florida Registered Interior Designers losing their right to practice (on a limited basis) without the oversight of registered architects or engineers. I respect the desire and ability of those interior designers to be able to sign and seal limited scope interior permit documents.  This does in fact provide more choices for the consumer….much to the AIA’s chagrin.  This is the most straightforward distillation of ID licensing issues to date;

“The Interior Designs Association Foundation (IDAF) says deregulation would force businesses and consumers to use registered architects for some plans that can currently be submitted by registered interior designers, who are recognized by building departments.” http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2011/03/28/interior-designers-fight-deregulation.html

Unfortunately the IDAF has tossed out two red-herring arguments, or emotional appeals, that PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER wishes were kept in the de-bait-bucket.

The first is the gender card. Has it really come to this? Bad old predominately male architects are taking advantage of the mostly female interior designers. Can we not just keep this to what it is, a professional economic turf battle? Now if we were forced to settle this dispute with a tug of war….well yes…my money would have to go with the AIA.  However, we can compete on an intellectual and skill level. WE ARE MORE QUALIFIED TO DESIGN INTERIOR SPACE!  We just don’t realize it.

Unfortunately we have chosen Health Safety and Welfare as the tiny mud puddle over which to tug the rope.  To use another non-physical competition metaphor- our hand may hold the gender card- we just gotta know when to show ’em.

So who do you think will win this tug-of-war?  Do we want to arm wrestle or outwit them proving our worth to society?

Second is the whole ID student issue.  I get the angst and the concern- I teach interior design for a living. The ground is moving beneath the student’s feet and there is a lot of uncertainty, misinformation and vitriol. The adults are arguing and it is unsettling.

“The group says the impact could hurt 12 schools that offer degrees in interior design, because their graduates would not have a professional registration anymore.

Book told the Gulf Coast Business Review that schools would be devastated by deregulation”

If any Florida ID students (or any ID student for that matter) actually takes the time to read this post, and others I have posted on the subject, I commend you. Please consider this. If ID is deregulated in Florida it will impact your ability to assume responsibility for submitting interior design construction documents to obtain a building permit and yes, in order to practice at the highest level of the profession, you will have to do so under the supervision of an architect and/or professional engineer- welcome to the world of integrated design and multi-professional collaboration. It will not mean that your education is worthless. In fact as someone who teaches at a highly regarded institution in a non-regulated state I am beginning to feel slighted. By default our student’s education is worthless? Me thinks not.  So let’s all keep this in perspective. If ID is deregulated in Florida it will be a set-back to the registered  practitioners in Florida and a warning shot over the bow of the entire profession.  As the future of our profession, and it still is a very valid and vibrant one, your challenge will be to get out there into the real world and help us prove that we deserve to be peers with other regulated professions (like manicurist and barbers….obtuse?….no really think about that) and that our ability to actually improve people’s lives and livelihoods is far more important than being able to sign and seal permit documents.

5 responses to “Florida Interior Design Deregulation-Okay Let’s Think About This”

  1. You got one thing right, it is a turf war. But you are wrong on your opposition. As a licensed architect that employs licensed interior designers, I, like most professionals respect the added value that interior designers provide to a project.

    Re-evaluate your opponents. Just look to see who showed up in support and who was in opposition of the bill at the different committee meetings. They are the unlicensed kitchen designers, the professional shopping buddy, the furniture store, or the bored housewife.


    1. Anonymous – We know that many architects don’t agree with this bill and are not pushing for it. We also know that AIA has been advising IDPC/NKBA and has provided opinions for House Committee. It’s difficult for most of us to deal with – as we’ve entered this profession working hand-in-hand with architects.

      Many of us believe the decorators and kitchen designers are just pawns in this. They’ve been promised commercial work that simply will not be available to them.


  2. Thanks. First I do oppose the effort to deregulate ID in Florida- I support the regulation of non-residential ID in Florida. So I am not sure where you think I am wrong. I do have concerns with the entire issue of ID regulation but let’s stay in Florida for this discussion- I hope you come back. I have one important question.

    Do you allow your licensed ID staff to sign and seal permit documents?

    The point of licensing interior designers is to allow them to practice independent of RA’s and PE’s not to be employed by them-which unfortunately is a regulatory/licensing issue. The licensed ID’s you employ have done so because they desired and earned a higher level of professional respect- that is not the governments job. These are two very different end games. However if you allow them to sign and seal documents with all of the requisite liabilities then IDAF needs to hire you to be a spokesperson. Thanks again for visiting.


  3. I agree that the student issue has been blown a bit out of proportion, however the important thing to realize is that if interior design is deregulated there is a very real risk that pay scale will drop in response. Additionally, if the independent commercial design firms are forced to close, these students will be competing over the few jobs available at architectural firms.

    What that means is that these students, entering an industry already devastated by the economy, will have a much tougher time finding work. Personally, I decided to go back to school to become a commercial designer because I wanted my own firm. This option will be gone for these students. As I’m now just starting the process of opening my own office (bought an office building, filing corporate paperwork, etc,) this legislation is especially difficult to swallow.

    As a design teacher myself, I’ve been trying to explain what it actually means to the students – the career they thought they were going into will be forever altered.


  4. Thanks Deborah and I appreciate your passion for our profession. I do hope that when the dust settles, if it ever will, that we can engage in a discussion about the pros and cons of legislating ID. I think what is missing in the dialogue is that there are cons but nobody is willing to consider them and how to address them. Another issue is the complacency of the profession. I see a lot of interest in the Florida issue, mainly from Florida, and it is clear to me that it is a profession wide issue of great importance. As you said it will affect our collective value and worth to society. Unfortunately many people just don’t understand it or they don’t have time for it. I understand they are trying to make a living…but that is ultimately what this issue is about isn’t it?
    Best wishes in these uncertain times and thanks for the comment!


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