Defining the Interior Design Body of Knowlege

In an update of their continuing effort to define the interior design profession Dr.’s Denise Guerin and Caren Martin have provided us with a sharper tool by which to sculpt and form our profession. It is by any measure an impressive summation of all things interior design profession. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has read the report linked here;

however, I have not taken the time to fully digest it. I will offer some key points here for those who may not have the time to read the full report ALTHOUGH EACH ONE OF US SHOULD READ THE ENTIRE REPORT.

On the issue of Health Safety and Welfare (HS&W), which remains the crux of our professional validation, the authors presented updated definitions of all 3 aspects which provide stakeholders a more focused and pertinent tool to help describe ID’s role in each. 

HEALTH:Definition of Health as Related to Interior Design Practice: Interior designers create  interior  environments  that  support  people’s  soundness  of  body  and mind; protect their physical, mental, and social well-being; and prevent disease, injury, illness, or pain that could be caused by occupancy of interior environments.”

SAFETY:Definition  of  Safety  as  Related  to  Interior  Design  Practice:  Interior  designers create interior environments that protect people against actual or perceived danger; protect against risk from crime, accidents, or physical hazards; and prevent injury, loss, or death that could be caused by occupancy of interior environments.”

WELFARE: Definition of Welfare as Related to Interior Design Practice: Interior designers create interior environments that support people’s physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being; and assist with or contribute to their financial or economic management, success, and responsibility.”

For those of you who have trouble explaining our role and value to society by using the HS&W frame of reference these definitions will be helpful.

The authors even went as far as to suggest that the profession reconsider HS&W “Recommendation 12. Interior design practitioners and researchers need to change the order of the HSW terms and speak of these terms as WELFARE, health, and safety (WHS) to reflect interior design practitioners’ critical contribution to quality of life.”

WH&S…….that is going to be hard to get used to but I agree.

In another of their recommendations the authors fired a large cannon ball over the decks of those interior designers who choose not to engage in the advancement of the profession, “Recommendation 3. Interior design practitioners must become and remain engaged with the evolving BOK or be marginalized by the profession as being less qualified.”


Again PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER appreciates and respects the authors tireless and scientific analysis. It is the closest thing we have to a shareholders report for the profession. It will be interesting to see if all shareholders read it and support it.

2 responses to “Defining the Interior Design Body of Knowlege”

  1. Maureen Jeanette Soules Avatar
    Maureen Jeanette Soules

    I have the distinct honor of being an advisee of Dr. Martin, and am a graduate assistant to both Drs. Martin and Guerin. I am currently enrolled in the Evidence-Based Design graduate program at the U of M and think the current edition of our BOK should be manditory reading! It is one of the best sources and definitions of who we are and what we do. Some may not agree with their findings or opinions; it certainly throws down the gauntlet to those who want to play at designer, but it will certainly engage the reader. If we don’t embrace adding to the BOK, we will most certainly fall behind as a profession. All other professions are recognized for continued research, growing their knowledge base, and dissemination. Can we, as professional interior designers, say the same?


  2. Thanks Maureen. You are lucky to learn from the best. It will be interesting to see if the BOK is widely embraced by non-academics and how it is disseminated by the shareholders. In my brief post I noted one point of concern, or amusement, regarding the disengaged being marginalized. Personally I wonder- even with all of its weight, literally and figuratively, can the BOK can overcome common misperceptions such as this; ?

    Unfortunately every person (hopefully not many) that attends this seminar will think that arranging furniture is “interior design” and that when they arrange their furniture they are, if but for a fleeting moment, an interior design star or worse a PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER.


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