For several years now I have been lamenting the lack of a unified and cohesive professional identity for those interior designers who work within code regulated interior environments.  My position has evolved over several years…of endless rants and debates, but ultimately I maintain that we (the code regulated) are much more than “Interior Designers”- at least as society understands the practice of “Interior Design”.  I have gone as far to say that we should do what we can to distance ourselves from this term.  We are not merely ‘Interior Designers”.  However, as long as we try to distinguish ourselves solely by pursuing governmental regulation, that supposedly grants society the collective recognition and respect of our learned and vetted abilities to improve the quality of their lives and livelihoods, we will never achieve parity with other regulated/licensed building design professions.   I get tired of saying this….We have to create this distinction BEFORE we pursue such legal/political recognition.  Let’s assume that our current mode of distinguishing our professional domain from the larger domain of “Interior Design” by use of regulation achieves success on a national basis…it won’t, but let’s just assume for a second that all states recognize qualified Interior Designers from the innately qualified by way of title or practice legislation.  What we will end up with is a collection of Certified Interior Designers, State Certified Interior Designers, Registered Interior Designers, Commercial Interior Designers and Interior Designers. Got it?  Some of us will feel better because of the semantic title twist…some of us may or may not be able to pull permits for our work, some of us will be registered/certified via some quasi-public board with no real right to practice and some of us will just have to settle to be lumped in with the local carpet store sales person who has a flair for color and a title in his/her business card “Interior Designer”. But as I said we will not even get to this level of consistency.

We have numerous state Interior Design (note the reliance on “Interior Design” nomenclature) coalitions many of which work as private support entities for their state boards where Interior Design is legislated.  Currently there are 39 such coalitions…in various stages of activity http://www.asid.org/content/state-legislative-coalitions#.U-OSTmPpW1E as far as I can tell only 28 state coalitions exist in states with active Interior Design legislation. Michigan just de-regulated its title act and the MIDC appears dormant, California has a quasi private/public regulatory effort and of course there is a litany of various title and practice regulations in place.  Have I convinced you that there may be a better way?

So I have given this dilemma a bit of thought…..”how do we achieve a critical mass of societal comprehension and respect for our profession that will allow us to effectively pursue our right to practice as registered/licensed design professionals?

We need a National Board of Regulated/Registered* Interior Designers.  There I said it.

* I don’t care what we call ourselves…let’s just stop calling ourselves “Interior Designers”.  Let the Interior Designers have it.  Confused?…..join the club

Now back to my big idea.  I have not fleshed this out, obviously.  I am sure my interpretation is rife with misunderstanding.  I do not know everything about our professional domain particularly on the public/regulated side of things.  Know that I exist in State that may never achieve legal recognition based on the current status quo.  Obviously I have made a lot of assumptions.

So here is a link to a graphic model of how I see the profession of Interior Design currently and how it might look with a National Board.  https://www.dropbox.com/s/a2yp41hikgnro1q/ID%20NATIONAL%20BOARD.pdf?dl=0

If you have ever taken the time to do an organizational chart of the profession of Interior Design (sarcasm intended) you know how difficult this can be to represent graphically.  Yes it looks confusing, and I will admit to lots of graphic mis-steps but I hope that you can see the kernel of an idea….a big idea.

While the first inclination might be to compare this idea with the architectural profession (AIA & NCARB) I am leaning toward other examples of private/state regulated professions.  Certified Public Accountants for one.  Obviously I have a lot of work to do to fully flesh my idea out.  But I am more than willing for anybody who has taken the time to hear me out to comment/question for better or worse.

Bring it.


  1. as a regular contributor to comments on this blog, I am sure you know I support this position, as really one of the only ways to start fresh from the crazy patchwork quilt we have sewn the past 25 years. NCARB is often referred to as the “holy grail” and is similar to the CPA way of life. This is the way to make it all happen, ‘cept, there is this thing called the States. I don’t know how the CPA’s of the world get around that issue. Do you? It seems to me that NCARB and the States co-exist ( why can’t we all just do that?).
    Thanks again for providing a very good synopsis for my sophomores to read, to get up to speed on this very confusing part of our profession!


    1. Thanks CBIRK! I have lots of research to do to vet my ideas here. As far as the “States” go, again as long as we can get our act together before we pursue licensure I think we can achieve the stature of CPA’s and RA’s


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: