If you have visited PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER.COM before you know that I have a thing for titles and professional recognition…okay it’s an obsession….but if you are back maybe you understand the importance of this issue as it relates to “Interior Design” and our particular identity crisis. I have posted previously on the effort by the lighting design profession to establish a professional credential. Their effort is relevant in that they are a relatively young profession sprung from the rapid specialization, and relative dearth of design sensitivity, within the lighting engineering profession- much like interior design was cleaved from the well established profession of architecture…and its brief dalliance with interior decoration- I digress.

I see many parallels between Interior Design’s effort to establish professional credentials (note I did not say “licensure”) and members of the International Association of Lighting Design’s (IALD) effort to distinguish themselves as a self-regulated professional domain who deserves respect and a place at the proverbial building design profession’s table.  We can learn a lot from them.  Conversely there are also many things that the lighting designers are doing that are far different than interior designers and our alphabet soup of professional credentials (ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ, AAHID, IDS, CID, RID)…I think they have learned what not to do from us…..but I speculate.

Here is an update to the efforts of the IALD to establish the Certified Lighting Designer (CLD) credential;

Here is the link to the CLD website;

My take away from this effort is that a strategic approach that has a singular and inclusive mission is much more impactful than one that has multiple competing/conflicting interests who seek credentials, private, public, or otherwise, purely to distinguish themselves from each other.  Furthermore the CLD seeks to self-regulate in order to achieve professional respect as opposed to utilizing government regulation to gain professional respect. A subtle and oh so misunderstood nuance amongst us professional interior designers. In short theirs is an effort to “certify” and not “license”.  The distinction here is critical particularly as it pertains to regulated interior designers effort to validate themselves as a peer profession with other licensed design professionals.  As Elizabeth Donoff explains in her update;

“The most commonly mistakenly interchanged terms are the difference between licensure and credentialing, and the distinction is a very important one to make. A license allows someone to practice a profession in a particular state and is governed by health and safety issues. Credentialing, on the other hand, is a “method for maintaining quality standards of knowledge and performance, and in some cases, for stimulating continued self improvement. Credentialing confers occupational identity.”

In my bumble opinion the profession of Interior Design has spent the last 35 years trying to confer its occupational identity with a license.  My hat’s off to the IALD task force for making this nuance clear and starting with establishing a clear identity based on performance and not the simply leaping for the brass ring of licensure.

Unfortunately it is too late for us (the regulated profession of interior design) to go back to our roots so to speak and rethink out path to societal respect and then pursual of licensure.  But it isn’t too late to think about how we proceed from this point forward.

Stay tuned.



  1. Christine Walker Avatar
    Christine Walker

    How does it come to pass that you are now admiring self-regulated certified lighting designers, when I don’t think you have ever written one positive word about state recognized Certified Interior Designers in California.


    1. If you actually read what I have posted dozens of times you would understand that I support self certification/regulation as a means to validate our value to society. We unfortunately skipped that particular step in our rush to regulate the practice in pursuit of the almighty license. We are still suffering from our effort to legally own the term interior design. We need to police ourselves first….before we can demand a license to practice.

      I am absolutely for self-certification. I admire the CLD model because it has established a very high bar for certification. As far as California’s CID credential is concerned….pretty low bar and no real reason to jump it.


  2. Christine Walker Avatar
    Christine Walker

    In the CLD model there isn’t even an education or examination component to their certification. Very high bar? ha ha ha ref:

    Write what you will, it’s your blog, but as far as California’s LAW is concerned, sticks and stones and maybe even a little ignorance and envy thrown in, Mister, you just don’t know what you are talking about.



    I am willing to let readers of this thread decide what they will about the CCIDC, IDEX and the CLCID and the merits and actual benefits to the profession of regulated interior designers thereof. It’s is obvious whose Kool-Aid you drink. I never claimed to be an expert in this area….albeit better informed than most. Again I let the readers be the judge of what I write here.

    Ding Ding Ding….you are correct the CLD does not base it’s credential on an exam. It actually bases it’s membership on ability to uphold the 7 practice domains. Given that this is a new ground up professional credential I think this is a brilliant end around the “Grandfather” issue and forcing old timers and the innately qualified to actually prove that they have the chops to join. Just one misstep that the ID regulatory effort is still suffering from.

    Another admirable aspect of the CLD is that it knows no boundaries…how refreshing to be so inclusive and not so myopic…Of course licensure and permitting is not a factor in the formation of the CLD credential, but that is not to say that in the future it will become important.

    I can assure you that the NCQLP (assume you know that acronym) is still a factor in the development of the lighting design professional advancement. I suspect that most lighting designers will start using LC & CLD and lighting engineers will start using P.E. & CLD after their names. Seems reasonable to me.

    There is a lot to admire here…..and as they admit there will be some bumps in the road as they progress. At least at this point they seem to be on the same page. Us…..not so much.


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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: