“Interior Design”- Stick a Fork In It – I Think It’s Done!

I wish I had a dollar for every press item in which “interior design” and “interior designers” were presented as somebody with a flair or innate talent and great self promotion skills.  Here is the Interior Designer to the Stars Du Jour- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/26/martyn-lawrence-bullard-i_n_867248.html Now I will freely admit that Mr. Lawrence-Bullard could decorate me under the plush shag rug but let’s face it-this is the public face of interior design

In response to another blog thread regarding Interior Design’s identity crisis a poster stated that maybe interior design cannot be fixed.

While it may seem like I am splitting a fine mohair I maintain that Interior Design is just fine. It’s us that has an identity crisis. “Whoa PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER are you daft”?

Well maybe but hear me out on this point. We have to understand that interior design is what it is (many things to many people) and we are not going to change it. Interior Design, as society knows it (and Martyn Lawrence-Bullard practices it), has been around for about 100 years +/-.  As a professional domain it is about 50 +/- years old.  Is it the interior design we know? No.  Is it the interior design we wish society understood? No. Unfortunately too many of my peers are convinced that we can change that paradigm by using regulation to force the issue. That is where I disagree with those blindly devoted to licensure.

We could spend the next 100 years trying to change that paradigm with legal and political force and expend a whole lot of valuable intellectual and financial capital on the effort.

Is licensure necessary? YES. However we all must understand that a license does not make one interior designer “better” or even more qualified than an unlicensed interior designer. It simply allows one to stamp/seal and sign drawings, of appropriate scope, to obtain a building permit without the oversight of an architect.  An admirable goal for some but is it the answer to our collective identity crisis? Not only no but hell no!

I say let’s move on. Let’s let the innately talented and flair for color crowd have their quasi interior decoration posing as interior design. There is nothing wrong with that. Let’s raise the white flag- stick a fork in it I think it’s done. Those of us who have invested time and effort into a deeper understanding of the power of design, its impact on HS&W not to mention the environment and the physiological/psychological wellbeing of the users of interior space have got to understand that we are in fact different. NOT BETTER, but different. Different knowledge, different skills, different values.
Forcing “interior design” to suit us is simply a poor business plan. Differentiating the professional interior designer from the innately talented by emulating architects (who already own HS&W) is also a flawed model for professional advancement.

We are creative folks (at least that is the Institute for Justice’s position see previous post)  so we should be able to come up with a better strategy for professional advancement.

P.S. In case you missed it- The new Bravo series Million Dollar Decorators continues to blur the fuzzy line between interior decoration and interior design- AAAaaarrrrgggghhhhh!

“Millions of dollars and out-sized egos are constantly on the line as Bravo gives viewers an unprecedented look into the exclusive and affluent world of high-end interior designers in Million Dollar Decorators”    (http://www.bravotv.com/million-dollar-decorators/season-1 )

4 responses to ““Interior Design”- Stick a Fork In It – I Think It’s Done!”

  1. Your vision is right on, but how do you get ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ, CIDA, etc. to call a truce and/or completely re-design their business model to embrace the “decorative” side of the business instead of bashing it on a daily basis.


  2. I don’t think it is that difficult. The framework is in place. Create a profession wide credential around the passage of the NCIDQ. Keep it simple.
    Professional Level
    Associate Level
    Industry Level PERIOD

    No grandfathering, no lowering of standards in any way. Associates do not have to take the exam but if they do not then that is their choice.

    We need to sort our own certifications and honor those that have earned professional certification by creating a brand and promoting it to the public. Once the pubic and our policy makers understand our value to the built environment and society in general then, and only then, can we begin to realize success in our effort to earn professional parity with architects and engineers. Thanks for the comment.


  3. Except you are still caught in the trap where the media definition of “professional” has absolutely nothing to do with the Academic/ASID definition of Professional. Whether it’s codified into a statute or is a private sector credential created by a trade group. On top of that you have “Academic” professionals employed by “Media” professionals and working side by side with other “media” professionals.


  4. Good Point! You are correct about “professional” since many believe that simply wearing a suit or a business dress qualifies one to be a “professional”. I really don’t care what the certification is called……Lord knows I have spent many a braincell trying to come up with terminology…”certified”, “registered”, “qualified” and yes even “interior architect” or “interior architectural designer”. I think the label is the easy part. If we can all agree that self certification/regulation is the basis to establish a strong, cohesive and respected professional domain then the rest should be easy.
    As to the “professional” educators and media professionals they can all pass the test too!
    Thanks again.


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