INTERIOR DESIGN REGULATION- NOT TOO POLITICAL, COMPLICATED OR ABSTRACT

“…..Yet when it comes to taking action to advance the practice, many designers feel overwhelmed. The entire topic can seem too complicated, too political, too abstract.  It doesn’t have to be.”

Hmmmm….now you tell me.  Guess it depends on how you define “too”.

http://www.iida.org/resources/content/8/0/7/8/documents/AdvocateIIDA_Brochure_Final_SmallSize.pdf

Props to IIDA and the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter for trying to SUCCINCTLY explain the issue of legally and politically advancing the profession and how we might be our own best advocates.  I know for a fact that it isn’t easy to distill this issue down to manageable sound bytes or bullet points.

Again for fear of being labeled an arm-chair (albeit ergonomically designed w/ adjustable lumbar support) critic I truly respect the time and effort involved here.  I learn from each of these organizational missives…and I also see lot’s of missed opportunities and mixed messages.  My first reaction is that it is complicated, it is very abstract to those who care not to understand it, and it is hyper political.  I get the soft pitch approach but if you have to sugar coat it to get the message across to your constituents, the ones directly affected, then how do we expect the general public to understand the nuances…..much less care?

Heck we can’t even agree on a definition…..speaking of which I see IIDA is trying to spin a new one;

“WHAT IS INTERIOR DESIGN?
Interior Design is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

Finally a definition that is less than a chapter and does not require a glossary.  Well done!-No seriously this is the best iteration I have seen.  I am overjoyed to see the issue of quality of life included.  Hallelujah!

My only concern here is the fast and loose use of “Interior Design”.  While we all would like “Interior Design” to hold this meaning amongst the general public (AKA our policy makers) I know (IMO) the common use definition of interior design is far from this (see my previous post https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2014/04/21/pitching-a-new-interior-design-paradigm/) and as long as the public perception blends decoration with design, which it will despite our continued efforts otherwise, the use of Interior Design to describe what we do is a lost cause.  Several years ago when I contracted this obsession I assumed we could in fact change the “interior design” paradigm simply by educating the general public…..silly me.

The legal and political forces, which I have discovered to be onerous and labyrinthine, have convinced me otherwise- WE CANNOT CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF “INTERIOR DESIGN” SIMPLY BECAUSE WE SAY IT IS SO. Now if IIDA’s message had begun something like this……

Code regulated Interior Design is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

or maybe;

“Interior Design, as practiced by Registered Interior Designers ®, is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

Now that is a unique definition that by default eliminates any societal cross-over with ‘Interior Design” as performed by those born with a flair or are innately talented self-proclaimed Interior Designers….which is perfectly legal -and we all know they are the majority here….. I digress.  Heck IIDA North Pacific should understand this as their neighbors in Oregon are trying mightily to change the semantic paradigm to be “Commercial Interior Designer” via https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2014R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB1521/A-Engrossed

How is that not politically abstract?

I know we would all like it to be as simple as changing the meaning of “Interior Design” to match IIDA’s definition but even if we all wore that definition on our shirtsleeves (or had custom tee shirts made….note to self-$$$) we cannot possibly overcome the critical mass of popular perception that considers us nothing more than finish pickers and furniture arrangers.

Now the next part of the definition gets even murkier….

“WHAT IS AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
An Interior Designer is an individual who has been trained to identify, research and creatively solve problems pertaining to the development of an interior environment, and who possesses the knowledge and skills to implement these solutions. Interior Designers apply their expertise of Design and the built environment to solving problems at the interior scale and at the level of direct human experience.”

Again on the surface this is the best summation of our profession that I have seen.  However, according to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida anybody with a pulse can legally claim the title ‘interior designer” and practice “interior design” despite what IIDA says here.  We lost that battle in a very complicated and convoluted legal battle 3 years ago.  If the recent ASID ICON article on the future of Interior Design https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2014/03/19/the-future-of-interior-design/ and this IIDA effort to re-spin the professional validation effort are any indication of lessons learned by the Locke v. Shore debacle we have a very long, very complicated, and very abstract game of softball ahead of us.

Once again folks- WE CANNOT CHANGE THE COMMON DEFINITION (AKA PERCEPTION) OF “INTERIOR DESIGN”, NOR CAN WE INFER, IMPLY OR TACITLY DIRECT, WHO IS QUALIFIED TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES AS AN “INTERIOR DESIGNER”.

I am well aware that there are many in the profession that firmly believe that it is possible to instill a societal paradigm shift of their understanding of Interior Design by education (one relative at a time) and lots of behind the scenes lobbying- I wish them well but I have a much different take on this issue……as you may now realize.

Call me a pessimist, call me an idiot, call me a pessimidiot….if you think the current model for our professional advancement is just fine then you probably are not reading this.  If you are still here then I hope you find my wry ruminations amusing at worst and thought provoking at best.

Sure makes me feel better.

 

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