There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that humans (at least in the U.S.) spend 85%-90% of their time indoors¹  While this is old news to many and numerous environmental/behavioral scientists,  design scholars, IAQ advocates and professional organizations have referenced this fact, I was reminded of the importance of the “design” of interior space after reading this missive from the American Institute of Architects;


While we could spend decades arguing and investing intellectual capital trying to prove which profession is best suited to design interior space, at the expense of actually improving the quality of those interior spaces, PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER wishes that we all could learn to play nicely in the indoor sandbox.

I know that there are numerous examples of multi-disciplinary collaborations in which Architects have relied on Interior Designers to help craft healthy and safe interior environments that enhance the client’s edifice (let’s not loose sight of who really “owns” the inside of our buildings) and their quality of life.  I also know there are qualified Interior Designers that have engaged Architects and Landscape Architects to help them create a holistic building design solution.  Sure there are exceptions to those rules in which a sole practicing architect has created a successful edifice in which he/she designed the landscape, the shell and the inside spaces including F.F.&E, lighting, finishes, hardware, accessories, artwork, etc.  However, this occurs primarily in the residential realm which truth be known is actually dominated by builders and developers not trained as architects or designers.  We should all be concerned that whoever creates our interior spaces is trained and qualified to do so and while architects may often be the lead on such efforts they know that this is simple due diligence in assembling their team of experts.

This should be the crux of the above AIA disinformation campaign.

In addition any architect worth their training knows that the design of new edifices is a holistic process that equally considers the exterior with the interior and the relationship between the two realities.  It should not be an inside-out or outside-in proposition.  This paradigm certainly changes if the exterior is existing and the design effort address only the interior spaces and functions. Kind of throws the inside-out/outside-in model out the window (most likely specified by an “exterior architect”) doesn’t it?  Yes, yes I am well aware of the contextual issues inherent in the restoration or re-purposing of an existing building and those are important.  But again any qualified designer knows this.

Can we just stop the territorial (literally) pissing (figuratively) matches and accept that the complexities inherent in the creation of safe and healthy interior spaces require the expertise of many qualified design professionals?

Wishful thinking I know.

NOTE 1: In case you have been living in a cave (which BTW is “indoors”) or your head has been in the sand (which if beach based…you may want to keep in place) here is some proof:









OR- What’s in a Name Redux Part 3 (Rev. 2) Release 3.2.

So it’s been awhile since PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER posted. I have been busy making toothpicks out of logs. But honestly not much has been happening on the Interior Design identity and regulation front lately.  That is until a couple of things scrolled across my Google Glass recently that prompted me to take pencil to paper…er mouse to pad…


My alma matter Florida State University has decided to change the title of its Interior Design Program to the Department of Interior Architecture & Design   Not earth shattering news but this was after a recent title tweak by the Interior Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to the Interior Architecture Undergraduate Program  -dropping the term “Design” altogether.  These are two highly regarded INTERIOR DESIGN programs. This of course is in addition to numerous other interior design programs that have already adopted the title “Interior Architecture”.  I am certain there are more waiting to jump from the Interior Design bandwagon.  This, as you know, is not a new phenomenon in academia.  Interior Architecture degree programs have existed since the 1960’s in the U.S. and earlier in Europe. I am not ready to call these recent Interior Design conversions a trend…let’s just say it’s a thing.  A thing we need to be aware of.

Full disclosure I have not spoken to anyone in either of the above programs regarding their title shift. But I have plenty of opinions on the reasoning behind and of course the implications thereof.

Okay so why the worry PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER?  “Afraid you might have to change your domain name or something?”   

Good question.  I was not even going to make a point of this department title “thing” until my Google Eyes filled with this missive by Dak Kopec, respected educator and co-editor of The Routledge Companion for Architecture Design and Practice, regarding what he see’s as a trend in the field of Architecture;

“What are some current trends in the field?

Some of the current trends include Interior Design moving closer and integrating with Architecture to form the program nomenclature of Interior Architecture, and we have already seen the integration of landscaping to form the specialization of Landscape Architecture. While Landscape Architecture has already folded itself into the larger discipline of Architecture, Interior Architecture is only at the first evolutionary stages. Today, Interior Architecture continues to be a separate disciple with a separate professional accreditation body, however the use of the word “architecture” to general populace means that Interior Architecture is a branch of the greater foundational profession of Architecture. The current trajectory thus indicates that Interior Architecture will eventually become folded into the greater field and discipline of Architecture.” https://www.routledge.com/architecture/posts/9277?utm_source=shared_link&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=SBU3_mbs_3rf_8sl_1arh_ain16_stan16_X_X 

To be clear…Dr. Kopec’s assessment of Interior Design as we know it is simply not his opinion posted on some fly by night blog that nobody cares to read except the author. He is a vetted, published and widely disseminated author.  His opinion on this topic is not unique and it represents a major school of thought.

So there you have the recent trifecta of actual and perceived semantic shifts that I believe have MAJOR implications for the title and the act of “Interior Design” on the academic and professional levels.

So my point here folks is there are many of us who believe that the term/title “Interior Design” no longer applies.  It is a liability.  It fails to describe us.  Okay I do not disagree.  But if we are going to keep our collective head in the proverbial professional sand while this title shift occurs organically, or by happenstance, we may be surprised by what we see when we do pull our heads out.

Makes it a bit of challenge to demand the public’s respect if we do not know what to call ourselves.

My final plea is this; if we are going to go there (IA) we better know where there is.  Based on my POV…we don’t have a clue.

Now excuse me while I see if the domain name PROFESSIONALINTERIORARCHITECT.com is taken.

Rev. 2/18/2016    And then there is this…………

“Yet, I would suggest that fashion shares a common malaise with interior design, one that is at once borne out of shame, and an ethos that takes queers for granted given their purported ubiquity. The effects of the stereotype of the gay decorator are still tangible in a profession so burdened by shaming that not only is “interior designer” often preferred over “decorator” but the more “manly,” and by association straight, designation of “interior architect” is advocated by students and professionals alike, both gay and straight. How might we explain such a panic beyond the contemporary moment? In both the extant scholarship and popular culture to date, the “gay decorator” has been both omnipresent and yet oddly invisible, becoming the spectre that haunts the profession.”

Potvin, J. (2016), The Pink Elephant in the Room: What Ever Happened to Queer Theory in the Study of Interior Design 25 Years on?. Journal of Interior Design. doi:10.1111/joid.12068

Me thinks Mr. Potvin hit the ole nail on the head.  We are running away from ourselves.




Seems the California Council of the AIA (or a related chapter) is trying to corner the market on the permit review process in California under the guise of assisting over worked/over burdened  and under staffed building permit departments.  California Assembly Bill 2192, ( http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB2192  )which is currently in committee, proposes a limited pilot program that will allow permit documents to be reviewed for approval by other architects…….That is, where local codes require that permit drawings be stamped and sealed by an architect that another architect, on behalf of  the local jurisdiction,  can review and approve those documents to be permitted…..It is unclear to me how a set of non-seismic/non-structural permit drawings signed and sealed by a Certified Interior Designer will be considered under such a scheme….but I can imagine that since the fox will have the key to the hen-house door that the cost of entry might go way up.

Yes this is only a limited proposal and the bill may never move out of committee but to an anti-government/less government mindset this appears to be a brilliant proposal.  Many building/permit departments already employ architects as plan reviewers and building officials.  If successful the quasi-privatization of local building departments could become a trend…..a stretch maybe but hey this is California….anything can happen and if it catches on Katie bar the hen-house door.

BUT……………..besides the potential issues of bias and favoritism..not that that would ever happen amongst fellow professionals….it just seems that the AIA is using this to idea to monopolize the building permit process which cannot be positive for California’s already sketchy CID permitting process.



AB 2192 (Melendez), the AIACC-sponsored legislation to create a pilot program for three local jurisdictions to implement an alternative plan review process for residential design, has been dropped and is now dead. While the author’s office and the AIACC were confident we would be able to move this bill out of the Legislature and to the Governor for his consideration, the good question the author asked was why move the bill if no local jurisdiction has been found that is willing to implement the alternative review process?

Our bill would have implemented a pilot project in three local jurisdictions that would have allowed residential plans prepared by architects to be reviewed by another architect, and that “peer review” would have been in lieu of plan review by the local jurisdiction. Thus, a building permit would have been issued upon the submittal of “peer reviewed” plans.

Many groups opposed this bill, including the California Building Officials, California Architects Board (oppose unless amended), and several interior design groups.

We, and the author’s office, were unable to find any local building department interested in becoming a part of this pilot project, causing the author to question the need to move the bill.

Initially, the bill would have given all local building departments the authority to implement this alternative plan review program, at its discretion, but we had to amend it to a pilot program for three jurisdictions in order to get the bill out of the State Assembly, which we did on a 72-4 vote. Unfortunately, with that amendment, we needed to find local jurisdictions in a short amount of time who were willing to be a part of this program, and we were not able to do that.

AIACC staff will work with the AIA Members on the AIACC Advocacy Advisory Committee to consider whether we should work with local jurisdictions in an effort to try this again next year.  http://www.aiacc.org/2014/06/25/legislative-update-june-2014/


Many of my previous posts have addressed the ongoing professional struggles between architects (represented in this corner by the AIA) and professional interior designers (represented in this corner by an assortment of interior design legislative coalitions and hiding behind the curtain-ASID).

But is there really a struggle?  Well yeah but…………

When it comes to the relationship between qualified interior design professionals and architects I firmly believe that respect and mutually rewarding collaborations are commonplace. I have no data other than my 25+ years of commercial interior design/architecture experience in which I have worked for, or with architects.  Of course some unfortunate stereotypes persist but once an IDer proves his or her mettle within the code regulated building design environment the relationships generally turn synergistic.  If an interior design professional can walk the walk and actually contribute to the success of a design effort any licensed design professional with an ounce of common sense will respect that ability.

However try as we might interior designers still struggle with overt biases that have built up over the years. For instance we have the proverbial, “we are only qualified to select furniture and finishes” misperception not to mention the more covert/unspoken prejudices such as sexism and even homophobia.  Yes many of these biases and prejudices are a result of  larger and more complex societal intolerance but to say that they are not endemic in the much smaller cadre of building design professions is simply delusion.  These prejudices generally start in school and little is done to tamp these misunderstandings and biases out until one professional has an interaction with another professional that forces him, or her, to reconsider their assumptions.  This is a hard way for our professions to move forward with any amount of mutual respect and benefit.

I have always maintained that we need architects and more importantly they need us. Much like doctors need nurses……or maybe much like Zubin Mehta needs Vladimir Horowitz….or does he…I digress.

But when it comes to those devout independent ID’ers who are gung ho regulationists I am in the minority on this belief…..add in the gender issue and I maybe alone on my middle age hetero male interior designer island. For it is the issue of regulation and licensure, or right to practice, that severs our professional domains like a serrated knife.  This is an unfortunate circumstance for both professions and is the crux of the aforementioned “struggle”.

Ultimately when the debate turns to which professional domain is best suited to own code regulated interior design work the gloves come off.  The well entrenched AIA continues to lobby against all legislation pursued by various interior design coalitions (vis-a-vis ASID). The AIA oft kicks sand in the our collective professional faces.  I understand the turf protection aspect of this issue as I have been on all sides of this fence.

Ultimately the AIA wants to protect the income producing potential interior projects provide for its sole/small practice members and the pro-regulation interior design contingent claims that they have earned the right to practice in certain conditional code regulated interior environments without the oversight of an architect.  That’s the “struggle” in a nutshell folks.  Correct me if I am wrong.

So over the past few years, as the profession of interior design has slowly made strides in advancing its worth to society and its place in the design of code regulated interior design environments, there have been lot’s of suggestions as to how regulation minded interior designers should, or could, create a valid professional path that avoids both practice conflicts with licensed architects and, at the other end of the spectrum, the vitriolic push-back of disenfranchised interior decorators and residential designers.  By default we have unfortunately modeled our professional path after architects and our similarities are also our biggest roadblock.  Should we continue this potentially incestuous path to professional status or should we create a new and unique paradigm that is uniquely our own?

The one alternative model for ID professional advancement getting the most traction (IMO) is the nursing model….er….um the

The Medical Profession Model


Of course this is not a new analogy.  Both sides of the interior designer/architect equation have pondered its validity and viability for some time now.  The Interior Design Coalition of Arizona has adopted the nursing analogy in its legislation justification material;

“Other states have concluded that establishing this category of registered professional in the field of architecture and design is similar to the prior emergence of the physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner in the medical field.” http://www.idca.info/uploads/2/9/0/7/2907520/idca_fact_sheet.pdf

Most recently the medical model was promoted as a way for ID to move forward in this March 2013 article in Design Intelligence Magazine.


In it John Weigand posits a very reasoned and eloquent case for ID to follow the nursing model, particularly its education pathways, to move ID out of its professional stasis.

He is correct in this observation;

“Nurses, technicians and others are important contributors in the medical system, but they are credentialed at levels appropriate to the work. There is flexibility in the system.”

And there are numerous comparisons one can make between the two occupations.  Decorators and Medical Assistants , Interior Designers (non-NCIDQ certified) and LPN/LVN’s, and Certified Interior Designers and RN’s or Nurse Practitioners.

He is also correct in stating that the ID education model has many of the academic prerequisites in place but getting buy-in from the architect side of the equation would require a quantum leap in cross profession collaboration

“This model could be developed jointly by NAAB and CIDA and might need to exist for some period of time in test mode, not replacing but paralleling current standards.”

Well yes and when all 8 planets, Pluto and the Sun align these discussions MIGHT be possible.  Call me a skeptic.

There are also some parallels with the examination and licensure of nurses…they protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and so do we…..or at least that is how we try to frame our right to be regulated. But let’s face it- justifying nurses responsibilities in that regard is a no brainer. Interior designers ability and obligation to protect the HS&W of the public…well that is a very hard sell….even if you are shopping for ID services.

And to address the 800 pound white male gorilla in this discussion.  What about the issue of gender subservience?  Articles on the subject abound; http://www.nursingtimes.net/home/clinical-zones/leadership/nursing-has-still-not-escaped-its-subservient-past/5061426.article


So what is the difference between being subservient to male dominated profession of architecture?  Well nothing- no improvement here.

It also appears that at the highest level of the medical profession that Nurse Practitioners and Medical Doctors are vying for control of the patients health… http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/the-gulf-between-doctors-and-nurse-practitioners/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Sound familiar?

And let’s be honest the profession of architecture as we know it is evolving and reinventing itself.  The days of the black caped walking stick wielding master of the built domain are long gone.  Given the quantum leap in construction and design technology, coupled with the great economic resetting of the past decade (resulting in up to 45% unemployment in the profession at the peak of the downturn), architects, vis-a-vis the AIA, are scrambling to redefine their position in the design of the built environment.  So maybe architects need to retool their image and approach as to how they validate their value to society as well.

Given the UNDERLYING issues of subservience, turf (or in this case patient) protection and gender bias inherent in the nursing model PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER would like to think outside the box a little bit…….okay maybe a lot.

I would like to be so bold as to propose a new model for ID professional advancement….oh and this applies to the architects as well.

The Musical Profession Model


Cutting to the chase. Let’s imagine that the role of the conductor is played by the architect and the interior designer is first chair violinist or if you’re so inclined…the pianist.  Obviously in the design and execution of a large multi-discipline building somebody needs to make sure everybody is in tune, on time and contributing their individual effort to the betterment of the whole composition.  For me the analogy between architect and conductor is much more palatable than architect and doctor.  Another nuance of this analogy that should appeal to ID’ers is that when an orchestra is not necessary, as in a violin solo, or simple string quartet recital, there is no need for a conductor.  If an interior designer/violinist wishes to go solo…they are welcome to do so and can even make a living performing solo.  Arguing with myself here- YES Nurse Practitioners can also treat patients to a certain extent without the oversight of an MD…..but then remember all of the other legal, political and territorial baggage that comes with that.   No thanks.

Now obviously the professional musician analogy looses some validity when you drill down to the issue of regulation and licensure.  But if we believe that ID leaders and architect leaders can get together to even consider the possibility of some sort of mutually beneficial education/examination/practice pathways then what the hell….let’s take full advantage of this fantasy and create something that benefits both of our professions.  Just some food for thought folks.

Cue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj9bXn4jr6M 

Fade out and fade in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFt-Y4gUySU

Fade to black.

Roll the credits

Cut. Print. THAT’S A WRAP!



Awhile back I posted a notice about an event in Tampa, Florida that I was the instigator of and a co-conspirator.  https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2013/10/30/rivergate-tower-at-25-years-a-retrospective-celebration-of-an-architectural-icon/

Yes we held a 25th birthday party for a building. http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2013/10/22/architects-builders-plan-birthday.html


Crowd of architects, designers, landscape architects, contractors, vendors and fans of Rivergate Tower in Tampa gather on the evening of November 21st to hear a panel discussion and a feature presentation by the building architect Harry Wolf, FAIA

Why would anybody in their right mind do that?  Well I am not of right mind and this is not just any building.  Here is the back story.

Last year I submitted an article to an academic journal on this building, my experience working on it, and the subsequent decline of its interior architecture/design.  Well that Journal, published by the Interior Design Educators Association…(get it “IDEA”…..very clever acronym heh?) decided my article did not respond to their provocation http://idea-edu.com/journal/2013-idea-journal/ They declined it with such informative feedback as “this is a fluff piece…..”.  Fluff?  Really?
This was the first time in my 9 year academic career that I actually played my professional practice card.  I have been very careful not to rely on what I did as a practitioner to advance my scholarly work.  I wanted my academic work to speak for itself.  As one who has made the transition from practice to academia I can vouch that they are two disparate worlds and it is very difficult to exist and excel while dwelling in both. I have discovered that writing about an actual experience in design that was constructed and assessing that experience is different from writing about a theoretical design construct and hypothesizing what the experience might be like.  I have come to the conclusion that I am better at the former than the latter…at least that is my excuse and I am going with that.

So with that stinging rejection I steeled myself to somehow honor the building and validate my experience as a member of the interior architect of record design team.  The fact that the building had turned 25 and that Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University had nominated it for the AIA 25 year award http://www.in-rel.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/5fea9854-bc02-8209-7755-5033931c3662.pdf (since won by Piano’s Menil Collection)certainly added some motivation but there were other reasons for my conviction that this building, vis-a-vis our design effort, deserved recognition.

Controversial in its form but steeped in a level of design sophistication that few sidewalk critics can appreciate the building ultimately won numerous awards and press accolades.  Harry Wolf, FAIA was the architect http://www.wolfarc.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=10391&Akey=WXNQY2J6  and our charge by our client, NCNB Bank (now Bank of America), was to see his vision to fruition-whatever it took.  It certainly helped that we were young, we were energized by Harry’s vision and we were lucky that we were working for a bank….with lots and lots of money.  It was the late 80’s and America’s urban skylines were the battle grounds for high rolling banking and real estate tycoons trying to outdo one another.  What a great time to be a designer.


Harry Wolf, FAIA and Mickey Jacob, FAIA (2013 AIA National President) meet while Mike Dudek, NCIDQ of PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER.COM fame ponders his next move

interior team

The Interior Architecture/Design team for NCNB Plaza with Harry Wolf- 25 years older and still looking good.

But alas the past quarter of a century has taken its toll on the project.  The park-like setting designed by Wolf and renowned Landscape Architect Daniel Kiley has been stripped of its original beauty. Due to a series of insensitive owners the interior of the building has also been derenovated and altered in order to create some revenue out of the shifting tide of tenants.  This is why I took on the role of event planner- to bring attention to what we achieved and what it has become.   However, there is hope that the current owner In-Rel properties will be a better steward of Harry’s vision and our sweat equity. Lots of planets need to align in order for In-Rel to restore the park and the public spaces of the project but hopefully our little soiree in November will help that happen.

Kudos to my cohort Catherine Kreher for her local assistance and perseverance in helping me make this unique event happen.  I promise to start planning for the 50th anniversary much earlier.

Oh and P.S. IDEA Journal……Fluff This!



RIVERGATE TOWER AT 25 ANNOUNCEMENTIf anybody is in Tampa, Florida on November 21st please join us as we gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Rivergate Tower (formerly NCNB Plaza).

I dedicated about 4 years of my life helping to bring this building to fruition.  This is the source of PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’S well earned cred.

More to follow.


In his current editorial Contract Magazine Editor John Czarnecki notes that he is heartened by what he sees as an upturn in cross discipline and cross organizational dialogue. 

Read the editorial here;


Read the entire issue here;


Kudos to Mr. Czarnecki for broaching such a sensitive (in my mind anyway) subject.  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER will be the first to admit that he sees the professional glass as half full at best and at times leaking profusely.  However, I am willing, and in fact hope, to be proven wrong.

Around NEOCON each year there is a flurry of tepid,  cross or co-sponsored, events in which ASID and IIDA appear to be reading the same book if not the same page.  The events for students and the legislative affairs forum are certainly positive steps….baby steps but I have to commend the effort.

Evidently there is even some interaction between the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Committee and ASID…albeit mere attendance by ASID CEO Randy Fiser at an AIA IAKC committee meeting. Other than expressing a desire to be included in discussions with AIA leadership regarding being included in more discussions Mr. Czarnecki did not elaborate as to what Mr. Fiser took away from the meeting. Which Mr. Czarnecki failed to mention was a meeting with an organization that is currently plotting against ID regulation efforts (see my previous post https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2012/06/08/interior-design-legislative-update/).  Kudos to Mr. Fiser for stepping into the lair of the two-faced dragon.  It will be interesting to note what comes of his duly noted request.

Evidently ASID CEO Fiser and IIDA CEO Cheryl Durst have been meeting as well which Czarnecki notes as “progress”.  Well Okay but talk only goes so far and let’s not forget there is a long history of such talking between the two organizations. Mr. Czarnecki also noted newly elected IIDA president Jim Williamson’s desire to communicate and even collaborate with ASID. Positive signs no doubt.  Mr. Czarnecki sums it up nicely

The landscape for communication in the design profession is stronger today than ever. Recent changes in leadership in related organizations and the reality that the recent recession has brought to both the interior design profession and architecture professions present a basic need to cooperate to do what is best for designers. I am heartened by this. The time for even greater collaboration is now”

Here here! Let’s escalate that challenge THE TIME FOR EVEN GREATER ACTION IS NOW!