The Goal is Clear- The Path Not So Much

We pursue licensure of interior design so that qualified and vetted ID professionals can practice “within code based construction environments” independent of other licensed professionals. We can now see the goal…..parity with, and subsequent independence from, allied licensed design professionals (read Architects).  A noble goal no doubt. Many of us hear the call of such a challenging goal- for many reasons.  Yet, choosing not to pursue licensure, or to climb Mt. Everest, should be considered nothing but a conscientious free choice and it certainly should not be looked down upon or as an act of professional treason. Conversely licensure, as important as it is, should not be looked upon as the ultimate level of professional status but one of many penultimate goals with many paths to access it.  Licensure does not equate to professional status- it does however grant the licensee special privileges and responsibilities. Somehow we seem to have adopted licensure, and the ability to work independently in code based construction environments as the ultimate goal- is it really?  If it is we have some work to do.  

Should any interior designer wish to obtain a license they can freely choose to take the proverbial path to status as a licensed interior design professional. We can no longer force anybody to take a particular path or force them to turn around and return to base camp. Now we just need to make sure the paths to professional status are well-marked and well-travelled. Where is this going? Funny you should ask-  I am introducing a new analogism- professional path identification and maintenance (time to wean myself of the militaristic and sports metaphors) which as any hiker/biker knows is critical to….well quite simply-not getting lost.

 With the goal in sight PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has noted several blockages and washouts with the current evolution of the legislative effort and the restructuring of ASID.  So we can either maintain the path to help others navigate easily around the impediments or we can continue to ignore path maintenance and blindly forge ahead with no regard to those that might follow. Here are a few areas that need attention;

  1. Licensure creates an increasing chasm (see the metaphor is working) between residential interior design and commercial/contract interior design. Uncle Sam is in fact requiring this distinction to protect “interior designers” (confusing isn’t it?). Should we leave them behind or possibly create another separate path? Doesn’t IDEC educate students to design for human interaction and not spatial typologies? How does this jibe with our students path to professional status? This path is yet to be marked.
  2. Our 35+ years of effort to force regulation on the profession has created a maze of confusing routes to professional status- which in my guidebook does not end with licensure. None the less we, the path keepers need to be mindful that prospective professionals need to start with clear directions and clearly marked paths.  The American Psychology Association publishes a 213 page guide-book on licensure and certification While the profession of interior design may not be to that point we must admit that is where we are headed.
  3. We are still unsure what to call ourselves and who really represents us.  We need a strong organization that will honor, unify, and advocate for, our efforts………….other than Uncle Sam. With the new ASID membership structure it is becoming less clear just where base camp is and who is mapping out our treks? 
  4. Wielding a license is still seen by many as a the ultimate form of professional validation. Licensure is still widely perceived as a qualitative tool and our only means of garnering societal respect. When will we fire Uncle Sam as our Director of Public Relations? What one professional see’s as the ultimate summit of professionalism should not necessarily make it the de facto goal for the entire profession.
  5. Our experiences in Florida prove that government regulation is not only an expensive litigious issue but a taxing political/public policy issue- (pun intended). Have we determined how much we are willing to invest and what exactly is the return on that investment? (Hint: The ability to work independent of architects how much is that really worth?)Should we alert our hikers to the potential for bear, or elephant, attacks?
  6. We have clearly put the target for ID licensure on the AIA. The battlefront has shifted from distinguishing our efforts from the innately qualified to claiming parity with the uber-qualified.  A logical and far more strategic parry with greater potential reward- but is going head to head with our greatest ally in our best interest? Think how much easier the trek can be if we do it together.

In the end we may decide that there is only one safe and viable route to the summit. I can accept that. What I cannot accept is being lost.

2 responses to “The Goal is Clear- The Path Not So Much”

  1. I would argue that in some cases designers who pursue credentials are actually trying to make up for a lack of natural talent. Designers who are established and talented don’t need to put ASID or anything else next to their name.


  2. The only credential worth anything in the realm of “professional” interior design is NCIDQ. I do know designers that buy ASID/IIDA credentials in the hope that it will add credibility to their marketing effort but to say they are trying to cover for some lack of self esteem is a reach. Many claim that all one needs is talent. to practice interior design. I can’t disagree until you tell me what your definition of “interior design” is. I also believe that pursuing NCIDQ certification has nothing to do with quality and it does not ensure that the NCIDQ certified are “good” designers- there is a difference between “quality” and “qualified”. Unfortunately many of the ASID haters and interior decorators posing as interior designers keep trying to twist this reality to suit their own lack of professionalism.
    Thanks for your comment.


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