HOW DO WE ADVOCATE FOR THE PROFESSION OF “INTERIOR DESIGN”?

IIDA UPS THE ANTE WITH COMPELLING PRESENTATION ON ADVOCACY….YES I SAID COMPELLING…

But not without some semantic flaws…..more on that later.  Watch the presentation-particularly the video.

https://prezi.com/embed/8uabl5erq9ch/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0&PARENT_REQUEST_ID=bf7836807e1d667c#

Kudos to Karen Hailey, IIDA for creating this presentation and to Emily Kluczynski, IIDA’s Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs for promoting it.  Evidently this was presented to IIDA members in Colorado back in February.  This is the most imformative and entertaining take on the issue of professional recognition and legal/political advocacy that I have seen come out of any ID organization….but hey that’s just me.

That said I am concerned by the continued confusion over the term and ultimately the very definition of “Interior Design”.    The presentation continues to beat the tired old semantic nuances between Interior Decoration and Interior Design as if the distinction is straightforward.  It isn’t.  It never will be.  Within this presentation I counted 5 different prefixes to the traditional term “Interior Designer” that the speakers relied on to help distinguish us from them.

US=

  1. “Educated”
  2. “Qualified”
  3. “Licensed” (grossly misunderstood)
  4. “Registered”   &
  5. “Certified” Interior Designers

Then by default THEM=

  1. Uneducated- Ouch
  2. Unqualified- Maybe…..but who makes that call…state boards I guess?
  3. Unlicensed- Only in 2 states and D.C….but whose counting?
  4. Unregistered – Well only where “Registration” is legally enforced which is the exception.  Or
  5. Non-certified Interior Designers…Certified as in passing NCIDQ, or by the State, or as in California (which this presentation dances around) privately “Certified”….confused?  You should be.

Why do we continue to think this is an acceptable way to advocate for our profession?  Hell I can’t keep it straight.  The one term/prefix I did not hear or see is “Commercial” Interior Design(er) – which is how IIDA is positioning itself to be different than it’s allied professional organization ASID.  At least that prefix gets at the difference between Commercial vs. Residential Interior Designers which in my opinion is a much cleaner distinction – even for the layperson- I digress.

To Ms. Kluczynski’s credit she did reference Andrew Abbott’s Theory of Professionalization from his book ‘The System of Professions- An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor” to provide some perspective on our profession and how it has evolved.  I refer specifically to Abbott’s stage #2 “Name change of the occupation to help create definition for the new profession“.  The presentation then alludes to the evolution of “Interior Design” from “Interior Decoration” which occurred sometime in the 1950’s…..well yes…..Interior Design did evolve from Interior Decoration but somebody forgot to tell the general public that that happened-evidenced by the brief street interviews included in the video.  So without acknowledging the almost 30 year and constitutionally illegal effort by the profession (mainly ASID) to legally own the term/title of “Interior Design(er)” we continue to flail at how to differentiate us from them.  50 years ago is an eternity in the evolution of professions….haven’t we evolved beyond mere “Interior Design” at least as it is understood by the public?

So as Jenny West of Knoll asked in the video “How can we clear up the blurred line between decoration and the profession of Interior Design?”- my simple answer is we can’t.  Let’s stop trying to use legal prefixation of the term “Interior Design” and let’s stop beating ourselves up trying to redefine “Interior Design” and make it what we want it to be by way of legislation.

If we are going to talk like Educated/Qualified/Licensed/Registered/Certified  Interior Designers then we should also walk like one…..Sarcasm intended.

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