The Interior Design License Battlefront Shifts to The West Coast

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has been monitoring the ID licensure effort in Oregon closely since it is a full on ground up practice act effort. Recently the Oregon House sent the latest ID practice act as described in HB 2491 to committee. While this is often a way to bury a bill apparently it still has some life. With that the effort in Oregon succinctly illustrates how contentious this issue can be.

The gung-ho practice regulation is supported by the Interior Design Collective-Oregon (IDC-O);

If you are still confused as to the logic and rationale behind licensing of ID’ers this page is a good primer.  The IDC-O presents a reasonable case for ID licensure- or does it?

Anyway, unfortunately for the IDC-O the Interior Design Protection Council-Northwest (IDPC-NW) which is a branch of the Interior Design Protection Council, which is a front for the Institute for Justice, which is funded generally by the Koch Brothers and for this specific issue by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, amongst other allied design organizations (still with me here?), are whipping up a back-lash of angry decorators, kitchen and bath designers, stagers, office furniture dealers and all their grandfathers (pun intended;-) all of whom are convinced their livelihoods are under threat;

In addition Ms. Diane Plesset, a local Oregonian interior designer and staunch anti-regulation proponent is also advocating publically against the ID licensure effort;

Evidently the IDC-O was able to get an informational hearing at the statehouse in Salem to clarify some confusion regarding the proposed legislation.  Thanks to Ms. Plesset you can listen to the hearing here (click on the link at ‘listen to it at your convenience”);

Now I know this is classic TMI and it is easy to lose interest but I urge you to listen to the entire discussion as it presents some interesting points- of course you can judge for yourself. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is particularly impressed with the testimony of Troy Ainsworth, A.I.A. who is a partner in Fletcher, Farr, Ayotte Architects in Portland. I have railed endlessly about the American Institute of Architects opposition to ID licensure but Mr. Ainsworth very eloquently stated why he supports ID regulation. Instead of competition or conflict of interest Mr. Ainsworth sees ID regulation as a marketing opportunity.  Maybe the IIDA/ASID advocacy crowd should hire Mr. Ainsworth as a spokesman.

Unfortunately all one has to do is read the actual Oregon HB 2491 ( ) to see that it includes language that is classic 1st amendment minefield legalese. When will the pro-licensing proponents realize that they cannot tell others what they can do or that they can no longer be forced to change their occupation? In short Oregon HB 2491 is telling a lot of people that they can no longer be interior designers unless they register and under this act they will be forced to do so or stop calling themselves interior designers. And we wonder why they get all pissy-to wit; 

“SECTION 5.   (1)  A person may not practice interior design
or use the title Registered Interior Designer unless the person
is registered with the Board of Interior Design under section 6
of this 2011 Act.”

This is the exact exclusionary language that the IJ/IDPC cited in recent successful lawsuits resulting in overturning the ID practice act in Alabama (the first in the States) and the recent court ruling granting 1st amendment protection for interior designers in Florida.  Should this bill find life PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER will guarantee that the Institute for Justice will have a legal field day, maybe even a walk in the proverbial constitutional park with this effort. 

What part of we cannot force interior designers to not be interior designers is unclear? We need to present ID licensure as a free choice. Doing so will eliminate legal challenges and minimize the collateral bitching and moaning to nothing but sour grapes. Of course it does not eliminate the political dogma from the battle plan but it does quell the angry decorators.

Lastly it appears that the ID regulation effort in Oregon is keying on commercial interior design only.  This is an unfortunate tack that is being taken by most regulation efforts because the paradigm has shifted from broadly distinguishing the qualified from the not to focus on allowing ID’ers to stamp and seal permit drawings. Or as ASID is now framing the effort, allowing qualified interior designers to practice in a codes base environment. All well and good until you think about the schism created by differentiating commercial and residential interior design. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has also railed about the danger of such myopic distinctions. The way I see it there is as much opportunity for qualified/licensed ID’ers in the residential realm as there is in the commercial realm. Or have we surrendered that battle to the angry interior decorators? I hope not.

3 responses to “The Interior Design License Battlefront Shifts to The West Coast”

  1. Interesting post on the Oregon front. Unfortunately our bill was drafted erroneously, hence the first amendment issue you mention. Now that the legislature understands the issue better, we’ll have a more clear draft that does not have this problem. The registration is intended to be voluntary for those who wish to practice independent from architects. I hope you keep interested! Feel free to email us with any questions.

    Sermin Yesilada
    Public Relations Chair


    1. Thanks Sermin I appreciate the comment and despite my criticisms I do wish you luck with your efforts.


  2. Thank you! Also thank you for the criticism, as this is a learning process and an ever changing issue.


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