It is rare when PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER comes across a mainstream press article that actually discusses professional Interior Design as we know it.  95% is simply innately talented interior decorators posing as qualified interior designer pabulum.  4% are articles targeting Interior Design regulations as a prime example of government over-reach and the remaining 1% is simply too bizarre to categorize (e.g. http://www.realtytoday.com/articles/33386/20150908/celebrity-real-estate-adolf-hitler-home-interior-design-media-fluff.htm )

So when I came across this article from the Grand Rapids Business Journal I was surprised to say the least.    http://www.grbj.com/articles/83223-states-design-industry-struggles-with-lack-of-certification.  Granted the GRBJ is not the New York Times but at this point a positive and accurate article in any Business Journal is a positive P.R. moment.  I was so excited I almost posted it to the many online forums PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER frequents (well okay only two) before I finished reading it.  And then I checked myself.

While the intent of Mr. Nichols article, that of the importance of the NCIDQ exam to the profession and how difficult it really is, is admirable, I noted two glaring misunderstandings included in the dialogue between Nichols and his subject Ms. Autumn Fuchs.  I am willing to consider that  there was some misinterpretation on the reporter/journalist’s part as well- that happens.

Let me be clear here….I admire Ms. Fuchs and her perseverance in taking and passing the exam (cue cheering crowd).  Ultimately this little bit of P.R. is a ray of positivity in our effort to convey our message.  But I would like to illuminate two subtle misunderstandings, per Ms. Fuchs, that perpetuate some very important political/legal nuances that we as a profession must wrap our collective brains around if we are to realize any real progress in our effort to advance the profession on the legislative front.  Bear with me -this gets real fussy;

  • “In some ways it’s a bad thing (that Michigan doesn’t require it) because anyone can call themselves an interior designer. If you wanted, tomorrow you could wake up and make a business card and just say, ‘I’m an interior designer,’”

Unfortunately the courts (in the U.S. at least) have ruled that anybody can in fact claim that they are an interior designer whether they are qualified or not, whether they have an education or not, whether they have taken and passed the NCIDQ or not, or whether they have a pulse or not.  Many interior designers are under the misunderstanding that one must pass the NCIDQ exam and/or become licensed in order to call themselves an “Interior Designer”.  This is untrue.  We cannot force people to surrender their use of the term ‘Interior Design” or the title “Interior Designer”.

  • “I know there’s a lot of talented interior designers that have not passed the exam, so it’s hard for me to say they should be required because then they wouldn’t be able to practice. But I do think there’s a lot to be said for a designer to take the initiative to take the exam when it’s not required,” she said. “To me, it’s not important that it’s required or not. Taking it for myself is what’s important.”

So parsing out this statement there are a lot of simple truths included….”there’s a lot of talented interior designers that have not passed the exam”  and ….there’s a lot to be said for a designer to take the initiative to take the exam when it’s not required,” and “Taking it for myself is what’s important.”  But……………again Ms. Fuchs seems to view the exam as a legal tool to force interior designers to take and pass it in order for them to claim themselves to be “Interior Designers” …….”it’s hard for me to say they should be required because then they wouldn’t be able to practice.” 

That is simply not true.  In the U.S. we cannot force anybody to take the exam (except in Louisiana and D.C.- another story).  This misunderstanding may be a function of Ms. Fuchs also listening to the anti-ID regulationists and their effort to deregulate the ID profession (another other story).

Now if we can just get all Interior Designer who understand the value of the NCIDQ exam and its role in their own professional identity, such as Ms. Fuchs, to also understand the legal issues with the exam and its concomitant  legal/political role in our collective professional identity I would have nothing further to byte about…..well okay I probably could find a few other things….

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