Legislation: The Role of Interior Design Educators

From a panel discussion held at the 2012 Interior Design Educators Council Annual Conference. While geared toward ID educators it does address some of the larger issues that are relevant to all PROFESSIONAL INTERIOR DESIGNERS. Unfortunately the panel was poorly attended so I post this to hopefully reach a few more of you that may be interested….or not.

We owe our students a clear career path forward for their monumental investment in us and the profession.

This path should include an understanding of various models of professional validation from education to licensure.

We must define what a profession is, who can be an interior design professional and what a professional does.

Dressing or acting professional does not make one a “professional”. Conversely wielding a “license” also does not make one a good designer.

We must explain that education is only one component of professional status.

 And more importantly professionals, licensed or not, are obligated to never stop learning.

We must be clear about the goal of regulation.

It is not about garnering respect for the profession of interior design. It is about pursuing equality with, or independence from, our allied design professionals¹.

We must lead our students to their own conclusion regarding regulation.

 We must not coerce them. If we do our jobs correctly the majority of students will become fully invested in, and forever committed to, the cause.

We must present the NCIDQ as the standard proof of competence to practice as “professionals” in code based construction environments.

We must walk the walk. 

We must be honest about the issues related to regulation both politically and legally.

We must openly discuss the pros and the cons of government regulation. We must admit to our victories as well as our failures. We can learn from both.  We are peeling a political hot potato with a double edge sword while lecturing on a legal slippery slope – use caution when discussing.

We must be knowledgeable of all political and legal issues pertaining to regulation so that we can present it in terms that are relevant to student’s level of legal & political comprehension/sophistication.

Whether we agree with the issues or not.

We must convey an understanding and a respect for our obligation to protect the Health & Safety and to improve the Welfare (HS&W) of the public.

If our professional organizations will not do it- we must.

We must enforce the importance of our unique ability to improve the quality of life (“W” of HS&W) in meaningful and measurable ways.

This is how we can achieve professional validation. Licensure (Health and Safety) is the vehicle that will allow us to do this at the highest level.

We must determine if we are teaching to the license or not.

If so- then we need to reconsider its place in our stated mission.  If not- then we must acknowledge that our mission is much broader and that legal recognition¹ is not our primary mission.

We cannot ignore it nor can we have it both ways.


1. From a joint statement issued during the spring 2011 Florida State Government effort to deregulate Interior Design in that state;


The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IlDA) recognize and support each other’s role in the development of the interior design profession. The two organizations each work to further the growth and success of the interior design profession in the United States, nurture the global design community and offer education and inspiration to members throughout their careers.  To that end, both ASID and IIDA strongly support voluntarily licensing that provides expanded practice opportunities for interior designers, allowing qualified designers to work independently in code-based built environments. This type of licensure for interior design is right for the economy, right for consumers, and right for the interior design profession.  Further, ASID and IIDA join together to oppose current attempts to deregulate the interior design industry. Licensing allows designers to establish independent small businesses that offer a full scope of services, hire workers, increase payrolls and contribute to the tax base. Regulation has helped create jobs in interior design as well as affiliated wholesale and retail sales.  This has, also meant reduced costs for consumers by increasing competition in the commercial design market. Licensing for interior design differentiates the responsibilities and services of each of the design professions, eliminating a monopoly for architects in the design of code-based built environments. Overall, licensing in Florida has created a robust design industry that employs thousands of Floridians and contributes significantly to the economy. Deregulation of voluntary licensure in Florida will only serve to disrupt small business and remove key safeguards vital to keeping the economy on track, creating instability for business and uncertainty in the marketplace. For these reasons ASID and IIDA are working to together to prevent the deregulation of interior design and to promote a vibrant and dynamic environment in which the design community can thrive.”

Davis, D. & Levy, A. (2011) Joint statement of the American Society of Interior Designers and the International Interior Design Association. Retrieved June 14, 2011 while attending the 2011 ASID/IIDA Legislative Roundtable, Chicago, Illinois.

© 2012 Michael Dudek

 Also I offer this abstract titled Practicing Independently in Code-Based Built Environments: Implications for Interior Design Educators which was disqualified for exceeding the word limit. Rules are rules. But that does not mean it is not worthy. Hopefully those of you seeking information on ID regulation can find something of scholarly worth here.


4 responses to “Legislation: The Role of Interior Design Educators”

  1. It is a shame that the abstract was disqualified, as the subject matter has importance over many other presentations that ultimately did occur. Until all the academic institutions agree, I believe we can’t teach to the ideal ( IMHO) of regulated practice. There seems to be still a disconnect in places where NCIDQ is still not the norm, or required of the educators, so I don’t see state regulation being accepted within those institutions any time soon. Licensure or taking a test, does not guarantee good designers, but it does provide minimum competency.
    BUT of course, you are preaching to the choir.
    How about an expanded forum for this subject at NEOCon? Not sure it can get on the docket, but let’s try.


  2. Wow great minds think alike. I am going to explore holding a state of the ID profession summit at NEOCON 2013…too late for ’12.

    Unfortunately since I am not a “fellow” or a leader in any of the stakeholding organizations my ego may be writting checks my reputation cannot cash but I have to see if it is even possible.

    I have considered the logistics of such an event….whether to limit entrance to certificate holders or not. Maybe one session like a panel discussion could be wide open to all but for productivity sake access will need to be limited. Most importantly the general press will be invited to all sessions. I would be happy if ID magazine, Contract and Interior Sources showed but we need to get our word out to the non-industry choir book press. Lots of ideas like I said- may not have the influence to pull it off. Thanks for the comments!


  3. Miceal, I love the idea of a “state of the ID profession summit at NEOCON”!… I would attend. 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing!


    1. I will give it my best. Thanks for the support!


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