Turning Grapes Into Whine

In response to the Massachusetts Interior Design Coalition’s (http://www.supportmidc.org/) effort to implement a title act in their state (http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S00093) there is a new whine being brewed in the birthplace of Liberty.

The MIDC has been careful to craft their bill so that there could be no infringement on anybody who wishes to practice interior design……ANYBODY. Here is the key language;

Nothing herein shall prohibit any person from performing interior design services or using the title “interior designer,” “interiors consultant,” “interior decorator” or the like, so long as the word “registered” is not used in conjunction with the word “interior designer.”

What part of that is unlclear?

So of course the NKBA has joined the fray both kitchen sink spray guns blazing (http://capwiz.com/nkba/issues/alert/?alertid=50617546).  According to the legal/political hawks at the NKBA, Massachusetts SB93 is more than a title act and includes restrictions on the practice of interior design.  They are pleading with their members to take a stand by writing their respective state senators and to voice their stand against such regulation. Here is sample of their suggested canned messages;

Once again, the proponents of the SB 93 have asked that the Commonwealth consider enacting a new registration for interior designers and award them with the state title “Registered Interior Designer”. Passage of this bill will unfairly grant a state-sanction to a small segment of the design community and is merely another attempt by the interior design lobby to give themselves an unfair competitive advantage through enlisting the aide of the Commonwealth to market their services. Such a law will be anti-competitive and anti-consumer and will make it more difficult for me and my company to continue to do business in Massachusetts.

While I certainly support legislation that is necessary for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the public, Senate Bill 93 does nothing in that regard. It merely places a government sanctioned distinction between the many thousands of designers in Massachusetts, for no reason other than the desire of a select few to elevate their status and market themselves as “state registered”. Surely that is not the role of our government.

Senate Bill 93 does not benefit the public in any meaningful way; instead it is being advanced by a small group of competitors who seek to benefit their own economic self interest to the detriment of the many thousands of design professionals in Massachusetts who will now find themselves at an unfair competitive disadvantage because of a state registration which they are unable to obtain. The bill will add nothing to the health, safety and welfare of the public. Rather, it will enable a handful of interior designers to market themselves as “state registered “and elevate themselves at the expense of our members and others in the design community who are essentially barred from being able to achieve that same status.

SB 93 will add nothing to the health, safety and welfare of the public. The public already has the ability to make a distinction between the credentials of interior designers. They may rely on existing credentialing systems developed by interior design professional organizations (such as NKBA, ASID, IDS and IIDA) that essentially duplicate the qualifications required under the proposed law. State title registration merely duplicates those efforts (with the force of law) and takes over one of the primary functions of a trade association–to promote and market their members to the public.

Senate Bill 93 would be a misuse of government resources. Interior design registration duplicates a process that is already in place to distinguish between those individuals who have a certain expertise and credentials and those who don’t. There are trade and professional associations that educate the public on the benefits of hiring a member of their organization. The American Society of Interior Designers has Professional members who are the beneficiaries of a nationwide marketing campaign to encourage the public to retain the services of their members. The qualifications for that membership are virtually identical to those being proposed in this legislation. Likewise, the National Kitchen & Bath Association undertakes consumer marketing to explain the benefits of retaining the services of an NKBA professional. We are happy to compete on the merits and will match our skill and expertise with anyone. Let’s just keep the playing field even and let the free market decide.

There is no evidence that the public desires additional regulation that SB 93 would create. Massachusetts consumers already have the means to verify the credentials of interior designers through verification of membership in existing private sector interior design professional associations, such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the American Society of Interior Designers and the Interior Design Society. And of course, there are always client references and portfolios to assist the consumer in selecting the right designer to meet their individual needs. Additional governmental regulation in this regard is not necessary.

I am not making this up. Somebody at the NKBA has been busy trying not to sound drunk on sour grapes. If I were a dues paying member of the NKBA I would ask for my money back. Since when is earning the right to display professional credentials (something the NKBA is very adept at) that in no way infringes on the rights of those who choose not earn that title illegal. Anti-competitive? Are you serious? Unfair….maybe if you let it be.  How is this unfair to a person who merely claims to be a residential interior designer or kitchen and bath designer?  If the competition wants to earn status as a registered interior designer then they are welcome to do so. If not you are equally free to wallow in self-imposed envy. Good grief NKBA spend your dues money on something important.


3 responses to “Turning Grapes Into Whine”

  1. It is interesting that they say that they support legislation “necessary for the health safety and welfare of the public.” In Florida, interior designers have been fighting to maintain our licenses which have been under attack by the NKBA, among others. In our state they accused us of being a “cartel” and are on record as saying that licensure is not needed to protect health, safety and welfare.


  2. lesalorusso312 Avatar

    Oops, didn’t mean to submit the above comment anonymously


  3. Thanks Lesa and welcome to the wacky world of Interior Design regulation and professional identity. Florida and California are interesting bookends to a nation of misdirected, misguided and misinformed battles for the ID mantle.
    The more we can inform ourselves the better we can inform our constituents.
    Thanks for stopping by.


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