A lot has changed in the profession of Interior Design in the 10+ years since I started this blog. Much of it for the better.

If you are like me it seems that simply maintaining sanity demands more of our time these days, so I understand if you do not have the time or inclination to focus on how the Interior Design profession is charting it’s course. It is challenging enough to pay the bills, stay healthy, and put food on the table. So allow me to cut to the chase.

While the battle for the title of “Interior Designer” continues, it appears that the captains of the Interior Design profession have at least changed tack (somehow the nautical theme works well here…) by charting a course away from the interior decorators who claim dominion in interior design, and straight into the realm of Architects. Call it Architectlandia if you need a geographic analogy.

If you recall the angry decorators were the ones who sued us for infringing their 1st amendment rights. Start from the beginning of this blog if you need the gory details on that litigious nightmare. The decorators actually landed a cannon shot into our mainstay which caused the profession of Interior Design to lurch in irons for several years. So those of us who care about such things spent a lot of time trying to enlighten society as to the distinctions between interior designers and interior decorators. The profession of Interior Design needed to find a tail wind and put as much distance between us and the decorators as quickly as possible. While I still see the decorators, off the stern, angrily shaking their tassels at us, it seems that we have righted the ship and are actually putting some distance between us and Decorator Bay (too much?)

All the while we were scraping with the decorators the wary architects across the bay were firing at our good ship from their well designed and fortified ramparts. They wanted no part of our professional quest for independence. With a bigger and better funded navy, the Architects (of Architectlandia) blocked our every attempt at releasing us from the grips of their imperialistic hold on the building design professions.

Okay okay enough of the obtuse storytelling…Now I will really cut to the chase….

I want to bring two recent events, or accomplishments, to your attention.

  1. The American Institute of Architects Stands Down on it’s Opposition to Interior Design Legislation
  2. The National Council for Architectural Registration Boards and the Council for Interior Design Qualification Compare Notes

Here is an 8 minute video synopsis of the NCARB & CIDQ Collaboration;

Okay so that is a lot to process for those of us who are not in the Interior Design wheelhouse so to speak. The above events, or milestones, in our quest for professional recognition and right to work represent an incalculable amount of time, effort and diplomacy. All of those involved deserve our gratitude.

Now what does it all mean? Or where exactly is this ship headed? Guess who has an opinion?

First to the AIA’s welcome change of heart. The AIA’s long standing anti-ID legislation stance was simply unsustainable in this day and age. To continually fund and work to deny a predominately female building design profession the right to work to their fullest and vetted potential was increasingly poor optics. The good ole primarily white boy Architecture contingent is experiencing an internal struggle to prove that it is a profession that is open to all. Apparently the newer generation of architects has an open mind in this regard. So in this case the need to diversify the AIA brand is a positive move on several levels. Win win?

Now the comparison of the Architectural Registration Examination and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification Examination. What started ostensibly as an effort to address the Interior Designer posing as Interior Architect issue could be interpreted in a couple of ways. As far as the ID vs. IA issue PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’S jury is hung. One could interpret the overlap in the exams as common territory that lies between ID and Architecture. Which means why shouldn’t that territory be the domain of Interior Architecture (never mind the title legalities)? Or one could say that there is enough territory that is unique to Interior Design, and vetted with a level of rigor akin to the ARE, that we should be able to occupy that seat at the licensed/regulated building profession’s table- as licensed Interior Designers.

Title and territorial issues aside the fact that NCARB and CIDQ took the time and effort to explore our differences and similarities is a remarkable step for the profession of Interior Design. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER looks forward to watch this relationship develop.

Now if the captains of this profession are truly serious about this change of tack PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has a few suggestions to shout into the wheelhouse voice pipe….should anybody care to listen.

First CIDQ should divorce itself from the Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator debate. Genghis Khan would have left this unwinnable battle years ago.

Second if CIDQ is serious about addressing the Interior Architecture issue then that may be a worthy clarification to include within it’s definition of Interior Design. It is no secret that such a stance would curry valuable favor with NCARB and the AIA. In support of that paradigm shift or sea change…the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) needs to also take a stance on this IA vs. ID issue by requiring Interior Design schools that have adopted the IA title, in any form, to address the legal issues of such a claim via their recruitment materials. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER supports IA or IA/ID degrees as granted by Schools/Colleges of Architecture! But there are way too many interior design programs who have no right to present themselves as purveyors of Interior “Architecture” degrees, legally or ethically. It is time to address this glaring omission from the current CIDA professional standards.

Of course that will never happen in my shortening lifetime- but I have to get that off my chest.


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