Design Star or Design Scourge

 We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Analysis of Interior Design Regulation To Bring You This Important Announcement!

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER told himself not to continue punishing his hyper-sensitive identity complex by subjecting himself to another season of HGTV’s Design Star series. But lo I cannot avoid it. The HGTV juggernaut is omniscient- it is like being forced, with eyes propped open, to watch a slow motion train/school bus collision. The promotion of the series and its impact on the profession of interior design is unavoidable and in my not so humble opinion……devastating.

If you are a professionally educated and/or trained interior designer who has vetted your knowledge and skillset via examination, continuing education and a commitment to ethical business practices you know what I am talking about. If however, you consider yourself an innately qualified interior designer who dresses professionally and has a flair for self-promotion and fashion but has no other validation of competency then you probably think I am an arrogant poop shoot.  So be it.

I have ranted incessantly about the public’s perception of “interior design” and their subsequent level of respect and appreciation for our value to society. Many of us endeavor to distinguish ourselves from the publicity seekers and drama queens by clinging to acronyms such as “RID”, “CID” “NCIDQ® Certificate Number 000000”. Surely the public must understand and respect those credentials. But many professional designers do not fully understand the litany of abbreviations and letters posing as credentials- how can we expect armchair home improvement enthusiasts (A.K.A. “general public”) to grasp the nuances? Well we can’t and we have to stop wasting our time trying to change the paradigm.

In order to avoid the incessant stereotyping some of us have even created our own terms such as “interior workplace strategist”, “interior environmental designer”, and the inevitable “interior architect”. But ultimately we are still “interior designers” and we are subject, by default, to all of its misperceptions. Unfortunately, until we demand better of our professional organizations, even with their limited resources, and apply some out of the box strategic public relations effort we will forever be judged by whomever, or whatever, has the broadest impact on our chosen profession. Take a guess what that might be.

Gotta go buy some Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop (I am watching my girlish figure don’t ya know) and get my snuggie ready. It’s going to be a great season of Design Star.

P.S. If you missed the casting call for this seasons’s Design Star fret not! You should try this one….AaaaaaaaRrrrrrrrrrrrrGGGGGGGGGGhhhhhhhhhh!


10 responses to “Design Star or Design Scourge”

  1. In regards to an out of the box strategic public relations effort. Do you think there is even a way the outsider perspective could be changed? Seems like a tall order with crap like this on TV.


  2. It’s possible if ASID/IIDA would plow their dues into marketing their members instead of having websites full of stuff that the consumer of design services could care less about. If they put 90% of their dues (run the numbers) into marketing it would certainly be possible. They should also both give up on legislation and close their legislative offices down.


  3. Agreed! As I posted earlier;
    the profession (ASID/IIDA/IDEC/CIDA/NCIDQ & all Canadian and Latin American Associations are also welcome) should relinquish all legislative advocacy efforts to create an independent testing and credentialing agency that would do nothing but self-regulate, advocate, brand and promote the profession using NCIDQ & IDEP as a basis. It is what is best for the profession PERIOD. Similar to what USGBC did by creating the GBCI -only not so apparently self-serving/in-bred, particularly helpful when pursuing government regulation. All of the components are in place- all it will take is some leadership to make it happen. This will allow ASID and IIDA to go on their merry disparate ways supposedly representing the profession. ASID & IIDA have failed to properly define, represent and defend the NCIDQ certified within the profession because they have been kowtowing to too many other aspects of the profession from innately qualified Associates (who are the main opponents to regulation), to independents demanding parity with architects for permit priviledges to deep pocket manufacturers- who could really care less about licensure unless of course they have drunken the IJ/IDPC Kool-Aid. And as ANONYMOUS alluded all of it seems to be preached mainly to the choir.

    Sure it is easy for me to sit back and launch such seemingly inane suggestions and criticisms but maybe that is what is really needed- the status quo aint cutting it. I acknowledge that the recent brouhaha in Florida has forced both ASID and IIDA to reconsider the intent of licensing and that, gosh golly, it does affect all of us- so this is a good thing. But I still see the use of licensure as the only method we have to validate our value to society and to acknowledge our hard earned investments in our careers. It’s still bass ackwards.
    Self-regulate- Self Credential first…….then pursue government regulation. Cut out the freaking grandfathers and stop trying to tell interior designers that they can no longer be interior designers. Aaarrgghhh!

    So thinking even further out of the box, assuming that we could pull off such a coup, what would it look like? We have discussed ad-infinitum what we should be called….I don’t really care if it’s R.I.D.(Registered), Q.I.D. (Qualified), P.I.D. (Professional) but not C.I.D., which is the most logical but unfortunately the Certified Interior Decorators beat us to that punch with a trademark ( ) that alone is a telling sad tale of our profession but I digress….Way out of the box what if NCIDQ/CIDA collaborated with NCARB/NAAB to create an education/experience/exam model that was more interior architecture than “interior design” and really keyed on HS&W? God forbid we should actually create and official professional domain of “interior architects” where we do not have to be RA’s to use the term. IA has been there for almost as long as ID but it does not have the legitimacy of ID and ID does not have the credibility…Hmmmm maybe we have more to gain together than at odds. Crazy? Well yes but as long as we rely on anybody within ASID or IIDA to ponder such possibilities we will remain stuck in this narrow conflicted and confusing identity crisis. Strategic vision on behalf of the NCIDQ certified is not their focus unfortunately. Thanks to NCIDQ I actually think we are moving in the IA direction anyway but it has been in direct competition with the AIA- we can’t beat them but what if we joined them? Then we could really wash our hands of the innately qualified interior designers, HGTV and the drama queens that have for the most part decimated what little professional identity we have. Now I know there are ID’ers out there that cringe at the thought of joining forces with the AIA- but if it will allow you to sign and seal permit documents isn’t that all you want anyway? I can’t see such a relationship as anything but win-win. We gain legitimacy and respect, the AIA gets to claim a chunk of the interior domain and the independents get to sign and seal their documents without engaging an RA.

    Unfortunately residential interior design may be a victim of the effort I described above but frankly even I concede that it may time to surrender that aspect of our domain. It’s done stick a fork in it. I could go on. Jason did I answer your question? Again this may seem wacky but if you really drill down it’s a simply a reorganization and not a reinvention of the wheel.

    Whew! Sorry but that makes me feel better.

    Some call me a dreamer- looks like I’m not the only one.


  4. Thanks Michael your points are clear! Whats the deal with AIA anyway? I have a friend who is an architect and he says the issue is that interior designers are talking their jobs and he says many are not pleased with this. See I really enjoy the architectural side of ID but I could care less about designing the outside of a building. I wouldn’t want to get a degree in architecture because those areas don’t interest me. What is the AIA’s stance on the NCIDQ and why can’t I when I graduate take a licensing exam to be a IA???


  5. Wow great questions Jason-
    The AIA has taken an official position against ID licensure because many of its members are sole practitioners, or small firm owners who depend on income generated from tenant improvement and interior remodel projects- the very work that the pro-licensure ID’ers would like to own by being able to submit CD’s for permit. It is simply an economic turf battle. Reality is that many Archs who work in larger multi-disciplinary firms and on large projects understand that a professional working at that level must be able to prove they are baseline competent. Some firms even see it as a marketing advantage to have staff licensed and credentialed to the hilt. So even the AIA is trying to play both sides of the issue but the official stance is an ID’ers place is in the interiors library picking finishes and furniture. What a shame.

    I do not know that the AIA has a stance, or opinion, on the NCIDQ (nor the NCARB who would be best suited to have one). Because the test has changed considerably, from an aesthetic focus to a code/HS&W I would be interested myself to hear what the Archs think of our competency exam. Of course many archs will compare it to the ARE which is like apples to kumquats but when you compare it to the narrow scope of interior planning, accessibility, code and interior life safety issues I would be willing to bet they compare favorably. I wish somebody would take that comparison on because it would settle a whole lot of angst out there. It may even open the doors to a strategic alliance between NCARB and NCIDQ to create an official professional credential of “Interior Architect” that is not a full blown RA nor an interior designer. Unfortunately at this point you have to have an architecture degree to sit for the ARE in order to use the term “Architect” in any fashion. The force to change that exists- we just have to use it. Thanks for your comments.


  6. P.S. Right after I posted this comment I received the digital copy of ARCHITECT the AIA’s magazine and on page 18 was an article titled oddly enough “Interior Design Billings Improve”
    So yes fees generated by “interior design” work is very important to, even coveted by, architects. The kicker is that much of that work is in fact performed by “interior designers” and not the licensed endorser of the permit documents.


  7. So a Trade Group called “The Decorators Club” is listed on the New York pro legislattion site IDLNY?

    Please explain?


  8. Well Anonymous I had no idea the DC existed until you posted…..Thanks for bringing this to my attention- I wish more designers would notice this stuff-

    Looks like they support efforts that might actually advance the status and societal perception of the decorative/design arts- how refreshing- regardless if it is seen as competitive of not. Here is a blurb from their mission statement.

    To encourage the promotion and advancement of the standards of education, for and of the practice of the profession of interior decoration and design.

    To establish and maintain such rules of ethical and professional practice as will serve as a guide for the decorator, the client and the trade.

    To maintain a spirit of friendly relationship among those who must work competitively



  9. I thought interior designers are like stylist, they tell people to buy expensive crap. You guys scammed my family enough to buy contemporary furniture that loses in value the next year. Fuck you guys, my interior designer will be a store clerk at Big Lots from now on. All my furniture will come from Big Lots too. What’s the point of cooking in a kitchen if it will ruin your design? Oh yeah, if any of you has a fine eye for glass furniture, I hope the shards of glass blinds you when it breaks. If it’s fragile, it’s worthless.


    1. I could not have stated the problem better…..However, I was unaware that Big Lots sold furniture. Thanks for the tip that helps.


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