Belated happy 2020……hopefully your vision matches the new year….or is that hindsight? Well hopefully your vision and your hindsight are 20/20.
PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER woke up this morning feeling a bit melancholy and nostalgic ….getting older has a way of doing that to one’s psyche. Assuming you do not wake up dead, which is a great way to start your day, one begins to question their purpose and meaning and whether their life has left a positive legacy, or any sort of legacy for that matter. What does it all mean? Why am I here? Does anybody really care? Can I snooze the alarm one more time and still make that morning meeting?
Well what do you know this month represents my first full decade of blogging on the very narrow topic of professional code regulated interior design identity. I do not have a track record of doing much of anything for as long as 10 years so this is a remarkable achievement ( yes this is gratuitous self gratification but it’s my blog).
Happy birthday PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER! You do not look a post over 300.
Because I firmly believe a little introspection is important for all of us to appreciate the continuum of our search for answers, and that a lot can change over the span of 10 years, here is my first post from January of 2010 where my assessment….or rather opinion, of this much maligned and confused profession was broadcast to the world; https://wordpress.com/post/professionalinteriordesigner.com/11
I am actually surprised that my position on the title “Interior Design(er)” has not really changed;
“It is incumbant on the profession, as we have established it, to get it’s collective act together and figure out why and how we are going to correct our path to legitimacy. If we truly believe that we have a right to the term ‘interior design’ then we have a hell of a lot work ahead of us.”
Wouldn’t it be easier to consider another title?”
Carrying on with the theme we have to ask ourselves….okay I am probably the only one asking myself……………….
What has changed over the past 10 years?
I created this blog 10 years ago in the heat of the Institute for Justice campaign to eliminate the regulation of interior design in the State of Florida and eventually nationwide. At the time, at least in my assessment, there were very few ways that concerned interior designers could inform themselves as to the issues at hand. ASID and IIDA’s professional advocacy outreach were not not necessarily accessible or current. To their credit both organizations have since stepped up their advocacy outreach greatly. Back in 2010, and as an avowed independent designer, I felt it important to at least try to help broadcast the war on ID in Florida to those who cared about such things. Prior to this blog the best I could do is glean news from the internet, popular media and, what was then, very active discussions on numerous LinkedIn Groups as well as the oppositions blog The Interior Design Protection Council (now defunct). I also need to acknowledge the efforts by IDEC, CIDQ, and CIDA who expended copious amounts of time and volunteer effort to counter the IJ’s efforts in various venues. In particular I acknowledge Caren Martin whose name and scholarly counters to the IJ’s misinformation campaign, which I have cited throughout the early posts of this blog, should be required reading for any interior design student who wishes to practice at the highest levels of the profession.
FUN TIMES THOSE………
If my efforts resulted in anybody becoming more informed and engaged as to the dire situation our little profession found itself in then it was worth it. Even if my efforts were for naught it made me feel better about the situation, well worth the cost of this blog.
So in February of 2010 Judge Robert Hinkle handed down his decision on the Locke V. Shore lawsuit in Florida. See my post from that time here https://wordpress.com/post/professionalinteriordesigner.com/108
With that monumental precedent setting decision the term “Interior Design” and title “Interior Designer” became legally protected by the First Amendment. In other words we lost the rights to claim the term and title as our own. Anybody with a pulse can claim that they are an interior designer and that they perform interior design services. And they do….by the thousands. Unfortunately that leaves those of us who practice in the code regulated realm of interior design in a bit of a quandary. Are we interior designers with all of that label’s misunderstanding and confusion or are we something else?
In a nutshell the profession of code regulated/commercial interior design has spent the past decade trying to come to grips with this new reality as this blog highlights.
While there have been some wins in regard to our march to legitimacy and parity with other licensed design professionals I remain……..well let’s just say disappointed.
“Well it is a young profession and it is still discovering itself” you might counter. Hmmm okay I keep hearing that defense thrown about….I have been hearing it for the past 40 years I have been aware of the profession of interior design. And I know that it was bandied about for at least 30 more before I burst onto the scene. Here’s a good question for you age conscious types…..Exactly how old does a profession need to be before it becomes legitimate? Not a rhetorical question folks…..somebody? Anybody?
So while arguments and excuses against creating a cogent title and a unified voice for the profession of code regulated interior design go on we continue to try to define and codify “interior design” to be what we want it to be. Those of us who do practice interior design within the code regulated realm, and wish to practice at the highest levels of the licensed building design professions, continue to suffer from the ongoing societal confusion brought about by this overly broad occupational label. For more detail see my previous 10 years of laments on this blog.
At ground level there has been some effort to shift the focus of our identity crisis but whether it is a positive shift or not depends on which side of the label/title fence you sit. At the professional level our two primary membership organizations continue to “represent” the profession of interior design. Although IIDA has made a strategic shift to be the “commercial” interior design organization. Whether this is simply a semantic shift or fundamental change in how the profession of code regulated interior design presents itself to society remains to play out……maybe I can be more helpful on this shift in my “It Was Twenty Years Ago Today“ retrospective…..look forward to that sometime in 2030. Oh boy!
To their credit ASID and IIDA have seen fit to collaborate on legislative advocacy issues both at the grassroots level and at the law/policymaker level. They continue to invest large sums of money and personnel capital in combating deregulation efforts and those few new legislative efforts that the profession can claim as wins over the past decade (Mississippi, Utah, and a few others). I am happy to acknowledge their advocacy efforts. They can also legitimately claim several wins on the deregulation front. We can only hope that this evolving mutual experience creates an environment wherein the logic of creating one voice and face of the profession becomes obvious and unavoidable. Let’s talk again in 10 more years.
Additionally, and very unfortunately, on the academic side of the issue many more interior design degree programs have adopted the title “interior architecture” into their program names, diplomas and recruitment messaging. I see this as nothing but a collective vote of no confidence, by the academy, that “interior design” is a viable and unique identifier. Another story.
So it really isn’t just me.
What’s my point and what have I accomplished here?
Now you may be wondering…….“Okay PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER what the hell have you accomplished in the past ten years of ranting and pontificating?” Well I know one thing- I sure as hell am not getting rich off my sponsors here (I have none). Unfortunately I do not have any evidence that this blog has had any impact on anything. Over the past 10 years, and as of January 13, 2020, this site has had 97,564 views, 44,590 visitors and 1,504 followers, with much of that activity occurring during periods of contentious legal and regulatory efforts involving the interior design profession. I suspect many of those views were misdirects but given I do not cross promote this blog, or pay for clicks, I am good with those numbers. I could search the web for emerging designers, students, policymakers, and academics, who may have Googled this blog for inspiration, or a handy hotlink, but I doubt any of them would bother to cite this blog as a scholarly reference. I get that.
Also in that time I have answered a few questions from folks looking for information on education and licensing. But not enough to make me think that I am making an impact. I have replied to numerous comments on my posts, both favorable and critical, and have enjoyed the banter. But really has it made a difference? I doubt it.
Where is this going?
With Ten Years Gone it appears that our march to legitimacy has evolved from defending our profession from the interior decorators claiming to be interior designers to defending our right to practice to our fullest capabilities within the architectural realm. Our biggest hurdle for the next decade is convincing the American Institute of Architects that we have every right to own our little portion of the built environment and to practice as peers with, or independent of, them and other licensed building design professionals.
Instead of getting beaten up by interior decorators, the architects are now throwing hurdles in our march to legitimacy. Seems to me this is a perfect opportunity for our professional membership organizations to decide if they want to help define and defend the code regulated interior design profession or continue to play both sides of that well designed and code compliant fence. Many architects understand our value to society and their practice….unfortunately many of their peers, and in particular their professional organization, do not. That is the real fight for us.
Certainly gives me something to complain about for the next 10 years or so.
After that all bets are off that we will even have a professional domain worth validating;
There is a big disruption coming and if we are not prepared it will render us irrelevant regardless of how right I am or not. I hope to be sitting on a beach (somewhere in Kansas I suspect) sipping my daily umbrella drink drenched in SPF 1,000 sunscreen.
Since I started this little bit of reminiscing it would be a waste of time if I failed to ask myself the most difficult question;
Was it worth it?
Well we’re still here aren’t we?