Category: American Institute of Architects

LEARNING FROM NORTH CAROLINA’S EFFORT TO REGULATE THE PRACTICE OF INTERIOR DESIGN

or

What is the AIA’s Beef?

The latest example of ID regulation to consider is occurring in North Carolina where H-590 is currently making its way through the NC Legislature.  As of July 6th the bill has been referred to the Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate.  I am uncertain if this means the bill is dead or it will be sent back out for debate when the NC General Assembly reconvenes in August (stay tuned).

While I appreciate that discretion is sometimes needed in the early phases of these legislative efforts I also maintain that there is a lot to be learned from each state’s efforts to advance the profession via title and practice regulation. Let’s face it once a bill has hit the state house floor it is public knowledge and monitoring/assessing the effort should not be some big professional secret.  In my opinion we do an inadequate job of keeping the general profession abreast of these efforts, particularly those that are tabled/sent to committee or fail completely, if for no other reason than to learn from other’s mistakes….of which there have been many.  In addition not all registered/certified interior designers are dues paying members of our professional organizations which does not mean they do not have skin in the ID regulatory game. We are all in this together.  To my point.

The North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects has mounted an effort to lobby against H-590 and their pushback is enlightening.  In addition to the general anti-regulation contingent and interior decorators who see ID legislation as an infringement on their rights the national AIA is our most vocal and forceful opponent.  If we are to achieve any success in regard to pursuing practice legislation we have to understand our opponents objections so we can address them head first.  Let’s look at their formal opposition letter.   To wit;

  • The AIA believes that the level of education, the experience requirements and the NCIDQ testing for interior designers does not appropriately and competently address the full array of health and safety issues that impact the public for interior architecture.”

This is a common statement of opinion by the AIA….we (Certified Interior Design practitioners) need to provide factual evidence to the contrary.  Based on my experience the NCIDQ exam is a widely accepted baseline vetting of a designer’s ability to appropriately and competently address the full array of health and safety issues that impact the public for interior.  That is the NCIDQ Examination’s focus and those that pass the exam are entirely competent to practice certain aspects of code regulated interior design.

  • “HB 590 looks to sever interior elements of architecture in an attempt to carve out building segments for less qualified designers. Severing the regulation of building interiors could do serious harm to the integrated practice of architecture.”

Again “less qualified designers” is their opinion devoid of any factual evidence.  Furthermore it is not our objective to “sever the regulation of building interiors” of which the AIA has established a monopoly that infringes on the rights of educated/trained and vetted interior design professionals from practicing to the fullest potential of their knowledge and abilities.  We are not here to take over your work.  We simply want to be fairly considered for work that we well qualified to perform.  Simple.

The stranglehold that the AIA has instituted over the past 50+ years on the regulation of building interiors actually infringes our right practice to the fullest of our abilities. This is a classic example of simple turf protection on the AIA’s part.

  •  “As an illustration, we point you to the devastating fire less than a month ago just three blocks from the Legislative Building. An entire city block of apartments under construction went up in flames threatening hundreds of residents in the fully occupied Quorum Center and the Link Apartment Complex. In the dead of night those residents were awoken by emergency alarms, they were protected by fire rated building materials, and they were escorted through smoke filled corridors designed specifically for fire egress for such emergencies. All of these systems are interior architectural elements and because of the education, training and testing of licensed architects, we are happy to report that these structures performed as designed, giving the residents and first responders the level of protection needed to save their lives.”

NEWSFLASH!  All of the “systems” Mr. Crawford mentions above are part and parcel of a qualified Interior Designers education vetted by the NCIDQ examination.  Mr. Crawford goes on;

  • “In no way do we believe this level of life safety should be compromised by allowing less qualified designers to verify building design through stamp and sealing authority.”

There he goes again with conjecture…we can prove that we are as qualified.  Maybe Mr. Crawford would like to sit for the NCIDQ examination so he can back up his claims.

  • No Evidence of Need
    “There is really only one reason for the State to convey a license for any occupation or profession and that is to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.” WE AGREE! There is no body of evidence calling for interior designer licensing. The public is not clamoring for, or perishing as a result of unlicensed interior designers.”

Then why, for one instance, is there a chapter of the International Building Code dedicated solely to interior finishes?  And we all know that Architects don’t do finishes (okay I can play the rhetoric game too).  The vast majority of Certified Interior Designers are unable to accept liability and own their work when it is regulated by local building codes.  As stated above most ID’ers are obligated to surrender their work to licensed Architects simply to obtain a building permit.  Granted the licensed architect assumes liability for the work of that designers but that could be why evidence of litigation involving the work of interior designers is negligible.  They do not legally own their work.  Yes of course there are legal nuances that provide for designers and specification writers and CADD detailers to be held accountable for their work even when signed by a licensed designer (think Kansas City Hyatt bridge collapse) but in general the licensed designer assumes basic legal accountability for the safety of a permitted project. Qualified/certified Interior Designers can prove that they have the knowledge and skills to assume this liability.

  • Consumer Confusion and Limiting Choice
    For more than 100 years, building inspectors and consumers have turned to the three major licensed design professionals; architects, engineers and landscape architects to ensure that their buildings have been designed and constructed according to the stringent building codes that are regularly reviewed and updated for current science and construction practices to maintain the safety of the public.
    The addition of another class of licensee able to sign and seal building plans for acceptance by building officials adds an unnecessary level of confusion and regulation that the building industry does not need nor want.

Times have changed.  It is time that the AIA accepts that the built environment has become much more complex and there are many professions that are performing work that was traditionally owned, or claimed, by architects.  The addition of another class of licensee offers the public an option to what is currently an economic monopoly that infringes on our rights to perform that work..

  • “Barrier to Market Participation
    The real reason interior designers seek to institute a licensing law is to create a protected market for their services. As stated above the only legitimate reason for the state to entertain such market limitations is for the protection of the public’s health, safety and welfare.  Interior contractors, kitchen and bath specialists and traditional interior decorators would all be prohibited from performing their traditional services if HB 590 is passed. We’d like to point you to an excellent study, as mentioned above, done by the Institute for Justice, “Designing Cartels: How Industry Insiders Cut Out Competition,” by Dick Carpenter, III, PhD. 
    The report covers most of the arguments we have outlined in this letter but it pays particular attention to the idea that non-health and life safety professions that have obtained or seek to obtain state sponsored licensing protection are in effect creating barriers to market entry from other professionals in the market place.”

This is a tired old libertarian anti-regulation song that can be rendered irrelevant in one sentence…. Interior contractors, kitchen and bath specialists and traditional interior decorators do not perform code regulated interior design services and H-590 in no way limits their ability to continue performing their unregulated interior design, interior construction, kitchen and bath work and decoration. In other words if your work does not require a building permit then this argument is moot.

  • “Monetized Conflict of Interest
    It is a long-held practice for interior designers to work closely with interior product manufactures in specifying their products for client projects. That’s not unusual in the design and construction industry as a whole; however, the difference within the practice of interior design is the lack of transparency and disclosure to the client about the monetary benefit the designer receives for the specification of those products. Interior Designers make commissions on the sale of product, other licensed design professions do not, and in the case of architects, they are specifically prohibited from this practice in performance of their duties to their clients under the following
    statute.

    G.S. 83A-15(3)(c) states:
    ‘It shall be unprofessional conduct including but not limited to:
    Knowingly undertaking any activity or having any significant financial or other
    interest, or accepting any compensation or reward except from registrant’s
    clients, any of which would reasonably appear to compromise registrant’s
    professional judgment in serving the best interest of clients or public.’

As interior designers have attempted to enact practice act legislation in other states, this issue has come up time and again. In all cases attempts to address the conflict of interest issue with some sort of transparency language has been rebuffed. We see this as a major consumer protection issue that cannot be overlooked.”

The impropriety alluded to above is common in the interior decoration realm where decorators maintain to the trade only alliances and yes…dubious pricing and procurement practices.  However, such practice rarely occurs at the higher level of code regulated commercial construction which is typically governed by legally binding contracts in which product specification and procurement practices are clearly spelled out or at least required to be transparent as part of the project budgeting. Professional/Certified Interior Designers are obligated by the same contractual requirements for product specification and procurement as architects.

Now if you want to complain about unethical business practices in the unregulated interior decoration realm we would be happy to join you.  But that is not your beef here is it and you should stop using it as evidence against code regulated Interior Designers.

Following is a list of talking points offered by the North Carolina AIA in the hopes that their members will use them to lobby their friends family and policy makers to act against the break up of their monopoly on the practice of regulated Interior Design…..I offer my rebuttal to their facts in red;

Interior Designer Claims Rebutted
IDs say: “NC Restricts IDs from obtaining building permits”
The Fact: NC requires qualified design professional to submit for building permits.

Well-hence the bill. 

THE TRUTH-North Carolina HB-590 seeks to expand opportunities for qualified interior design professionals thereby creating expanded job opportunities and consumer choice in what is now a very limited and restrictive aspect of the building design professions.

IDs say: “IDs must pay excessive fees to an architect”
The Fact: Categorically false and completely unsubstantiated. If unlicensed individuals choose to work in a regulated building environment, they must have a qualified design professional verify and assume responsibility for permitted plans.

THE TRUTH-While the adjective “excessive” is relative the issue is even for the most minor interior REMODEL/renovation or tenant fit up projects that require a building permit qualified interior designers must pay for an architect to sign and seal their documents.  The cost to pay an architect, or licensed engineer, to sign and seal the permit documents is seen as an added expense on the Interior Designers part.  If the interior designer were able to accept liability for their design by signing and sealing their own permit documents this would eliminate the added expense for the architects seal and signature.  Again, qualified Interior Designers who are trained and vetted by examination to perform limited scope regulated interior design projects should be able to act as their own “qualified design professional” on projects in which the scope of interior work is limited to non-structural and minimally affects the overall base building life safety systems and assemblies.

This will allow consumers to have more choices for their limited scope interior design projects and it will expand opportunities for qualified design professionals.

Interior Designers who are forced to pay premium fees for licensed Archtiects or Engineers to sign and seal their documents simply to pull a permit need to document those charges and quantify the added expense to their clients and their policy makers.  This can easily be substantiated.  Thanks for the suggestion.

IDs say: “Having to use architects to approve ID plans costs ID firms an additional 12%.”
The Fact: No basis of verification for this number.

THE TRUTH- Note to North Carolina ID’ers….you did not make up the 12% fee upcharge…..you should cite the source.  None the less this argument is redundant…see discussion above.  12% does not seem “excessive” but it is an added expense to North Carolina consumers that could be eliminated.   

IDs say: “Architect owned design firms will always be less in fee because design plan approval is free for them.”
The Fact: Plan approval is never “free.” The business costs associated with an architecture firm vs. an interior design firm would contradict this statement. The assumed liability associated with a professional license ensures that a licensed design professional assumes the high cost of liability insurance, something interior designers do not have in their overhead now.

THE TRUTH-Again this is another way to look at the issue of who should be able to sign and seal limited scope interior design projects and how the fees for signing and sealing permit documents is passed on to the client.  Interior Design professionals fully understand the legal ramifications for signing and sealing their documents.  Currently Architect owned firms that provide interior design services have a built-in process for the signing and sealing of permit documents which does provide for an unfair advantage over those Interior Designers who may not work within a licensed architect owned business.

IDs say: “The law restricts IDs from partnering with an architect to form a business partnership.”
The Fact: Not true. The NC Professional Corporations Code allows for 33% non-license ownership in a professional corporation. The Architects Practice Act is not the appropriate place to address professional corporation ownership issues.

THE TRUTH-So let’s say two professional designers, a licensed architect and a certified interior designer decide to form an equal partnership.  By law the Interior Designer can only own 33% of the company.  That is not at all a fair partnership. There should be no such limitations in a free market.  In many states the AIA lobby has managed to provide legalese both in practice bills and business/corporation regulations that limits or fully restricts the right of certified/qualified interior designers to own an equal share of the business entity. What are you so afraid of?

IDs say: “Creates voluntary registration for IDs”
The Fact: All licensing and registration is voluntary.

THE TRUTH-Interior Designers must include this qualifier in their pursuit of title registration so as not to incite the ire of the unregulated Interior Design community that sees such legislation as an infringement on their right to the title “Interior Design”.  The AIA does not have a dog in this hunt but if you really believe that all licensing and registration is actually voluntary talk to our friends at the Institute for Justice about their well-funded campaigns to litigate regulatory infringement and discrimination.  

IDs say: “The bill does not restrict any individual from referencing themselves an interior designer or interior decorator.”
The Fact: If the State is carving out a scope of practice for interior designers, this will create complete confusion on the part of the consuming public and regulators.

THE TRUTH-There is a fine line between a “Registered Interior Designer” and an “Interior Designer” but such subtle title distinctions are common in professional regulations….think accountant vs. Certified Public Accountant or financial planner vs Certified Financial Planner. 

IDs say: “The bill does not restrict any individual or business from practicing interior design.”
The Fact: Then what is the NEED for the bill?

THE TRUTH-The bill actually seeks to open up a market that is currently restricted by, and for the benefit of, licensed architects.  As long as building permits are required to construct interior design projects…many of which most architects would not consider due to scale, scope or lack of fit, certified interior designers will pursue these right to work bills to open up the market for regulated interior design work.

IDs say: “Interior Designers focus on how an occupant and the space around them inside a building is going to interact and function together.”
The Fact: Interior architecture includes all of this plus the very important relationship of how the interiors’ relate to all the other building systems.
YOU CANNOT DIVORCE INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE FROM THE REST OF THE BUILDING!

THE-TRUTH- You assume that code qualified interior designers do not understand “building systems”  Again I refer you to the breakdown of subject areas in the NCIDQ Examination and the Professional Standards as defined by CIDA.  Furthermore we both know that there are millions of square feet of interior space that exists quite successfully that is devoid of any relationship (apart from structural) to the exterior architecture. In fact there is an entire typology of buildings that were intentionally designed with no regard to interior/exterior relationship…Spec. office buildings or big box retail for example.  You also presume that a building can be parsed into interior architecture and exterior architecture.  Did you consult with any Exterior Architects to confirm your assumption? 

I think we can all agree that most examples of textbook architecture from Andrea (Palladio) to Zaha (Hadid) are admired because they comprise a holistic solution. There is no distinction between the design of the inside and the outside -other than one offers protection from the elements.  But we can also agree that these projects are the exception and much to architect’s chagrin this ∇ is the norm for “architecture” in the public’s eyes.

1200px-Strip_Mall_Troy                                                                                   (https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/9/6/strip-malls)

Shall we continue?

IDs say: “Interior designers impact health safety & welfare.”
The Fact: Yes they do, but their education, training and testing is incomplete to address all the building systems that must work together to ensure complete building occupant safety.

Well thanks for acknowledging that our work does impact HS&W even though this conflicts with other claims you make later.  Unfortunately there is no easy, or clear, line of demarcation between the legitimate scope of Interior Design work and that of Architecture.  Interior Designers do not claim to have expertise in “all the building systems that must work together to ensure complete building occupant safety” and we never will so calm down. We are not coming for your jobs.

Maybe instead of a wasteful turf battle, which is what this argument really is, we can begin to appreciate, understand and respect our particular knowledge and skill sets.  I can assure that qualified Interior Designers have a deep respect for your body of knowledge- so the ball is in your court -so to speak.  With that understanding and respect maybe we can begin to work together to understand how we both can improve our professional domains in a manner that mutually benefits our bottom lines and our clients interior spaces. I digress.

IDs say: “The NCIDQ exam formalizes a structure and path to ensure an interior designer has an adequate amount of education and experience in order to uphold health, safety and welfare.”
The Fact: The NCIDQ and its education/experience requirements does not come close to the necessary training and testing required to meet the minimum life-safety benchmark for stamping and sealing authority. See chart below that highlights the standards for interior architecture.

Unfortunately based on your rhetoric posing as “facts” below you do not have a clue whether the NCIDQ comes close to necessary training and testing required to meet the minimum life-safety benchmark for stamping and sealing authority.  Your arguments are misinformed at best. 

Finally I wonder why the AIA is so defensive when it comes to protecting such a minor portion of its domain.  I know many registered architects (AIA members and not) who support the idea of licensure for qualified Interior Designers. They understand the concept that educated and vetted designers make for better teammates and ultimately add value to their projects and even their bottom lines.  Do you really care about 7,500 square foot cubicle re-shuffles or 1,500 square foot tenant fit-ups? Could the AIA be threatened by the fact that Interior Design is a female dominated profession?  Don’t make me play the gender card- oops sorry guess I just did.  Could it be that Architecture, as represented by the AIA, is suffering from loss of relevance due to other emerging professions such as Project Management and Design/Build Contractors?  It does seem like you have bigger issues to address.  

Interior Designer Claims Rebutted;

Certified Interior Designers                         Licensed Architects

Education Requirement:

Minimum 2 Year Associates Degree                         Minimum 5 Year Accredited Degree

The facts.  In order to sit for the NCIDQ Examination an Associate Degree (60 hours of ID Coursework) is currently acceptable as long as the exam candidate has also logged 5,280 hours of monitored internship/apprenticeship (see Internship Requirements below).  The current pathway to sit for the NCIDQ Examination that allows Associates Degree with 40 hours of ID coursework & 7,040 hours of apprenticeship is being eliminated in 2018.  Needless to say that the work/internship threshold for the Associates Degree pathways provides for a higher threshold than simply stating “Minimum 2 Year Associates Degree.  This is an insurmountable hurdle for many AA degree holding designers to take on.   In states in which the practice or title of ID is regulated the minimum education threshold is far more stringent and none allow 2 year degrees. Of course if you care to really understand the facts for this important comparison you will have to read the ID acts in 27 states and thoroughly read the eligibility pathways for the NCIDQ Examination.  But why let facts stand in the way of your opinion.

Certified Interior Designers                         Licensed Architects

Examination Requirement:                                                                                         

2 tests 300 questions 7 hours total                           6 tests 605 questions 21 hours total

The facts. The NCIDQ Examination consists of 3 sections with 370 questions over a total of 11 hours.  Out of the gate Mr. Crawford’s comparison is moot.  Again if you care to know the facts please visit the NCIDQ Examination website.

Certified Interior Designers                             Licensed Architects

Testing for Code Related Issues:

Less than 15%                                                                               At least 22%

The facts. The NCIDQ Professional Examination (part 2 of 3) includes 18% of its content which is directly related to building codes and standards. The ID Practicum Examination (part 3 of 3)  includes 25% of its content which is directly related to building codes.  Again this is content that deals directly with building codes and does not include additional content that also tests for more indirect health, safety and welfare or “code related” knowledge.  Mr. Crawford’s numbers are not based on any factual evidence and therefore are moot. 

Certified Interior Designers                            Licensed Architects

Continuing Education:

0-6 undefined hours a year                                                     12 HSW hours a year

The facts. CEU’s are typically not measured in hours but in credits earned.   For those of you that prefer factual evidence over baseless claims here are the NCIDQ CEU requirements;

NCIDQ Certificate holders are expected to meet continuing education minimums set by CIDQ (0.6 CEU), a professional organization (ASID, IIDA, IDC) or a regulated jurisdiction.  CEUs must be tracked through the IDCEC System.  To ensure compliance, CIDQ reserves the right to conduct random audits of IDCEC accounts each year of those who signed the Appellation Agreement Form

In order to maintain professional membership in any of the North American Interior Design Associations there are strict requirements for CEU’s.  None allow “0 hours” of continuing education to suit their membership requirements.  Again in those states that regulate the title and/or practice of Interior Designers are held to CEU credits similar to licensed architects. 

Certified Interior Designers                          Licensed Architects

Education in Health Safety Welfare

None Required                                              Must graduate from accredited university                                                                                                                                                    

Wow that is misleading.  Here are the facts.  To be clear there is a difference in “Certified Interior Designers” that simply take the NCIDQ examination and those that actually practice in a state in which the title and/or practice of Interior Design is regulated.  But neither allow for a designer to become “certified” or maintain their certification without proving baseline competence and knowledge of Health Safety and Welfare issues that impact our work.  Most* certified interior designers have earned 4 year minimum degrees from an accredited institution that must offer students the opportunity exposure to and understanding of a multitude of HS&W content.  Again if you care to understand the facts in this regard, please visit the Council for Interior Design Accreditation website for professional standards and expectations for accredited Interior Design programs.

* While I do not have actual figures for this statement I am confident based on 30+ years of experience in Interior Design my generalization is sound.

Certified Interior Designers                             Licensed Architects

Internship Requirement:

3520 Hours                                                                                        3740 Hours

Given the much narrower scope of Interior Design work vs. Architecture this comparison seems reasonable.  Interesting observation to note here is that the NCARB is now allowing qualified candidates to take the exam based on experience and less stringent education requirements as explained here.  Furthermore, NCARB has created a “streamlined” pathway that allows certain Architecture degree students to sit for the examination prior to graduating and earning their work experience. Seems the numbers of ARE candidates has been declining for years due to the cost and effort to qualify for the Architectural Registration Examination in pursuit of licensure. Again I suggest that you have much bigger issues to concern yourself with than impeding Certified Interior Designer’s right to practice to the fullest of their potential.

So if anybody has taken the time to read this diatribe I commend you.

In closing I offer this;  The AIA and the Certified Interior Design profession have so much to gain by working toward a mutual understanding and respect for each other’s professional domain.  This petty turf war does really does nothing to benefit either of our professions.  I also know there are many Registered Architects that hire and rely on certified Interior Designers to help them create the best projects for their clients.  The AIA is out of step with the profession in this regard.

IF WE SPEND 90% OF OUR TIME INDOORS WHO REALLY IS BEST QUALIFIED TO CREATE THAT SPACE?

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;

http://www.aia.org/aiaucmp/groups/aia/documents/pdf/aiab105700.pdf

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:

https://indoor.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl-47713.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20040930

https://ofmpub.epa.gov/eims/eimscomm.getfile?p_download_id=458976

 

 

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE vs. INTERIOR DESIGN

BREAKING NEWS…THIS JUST IN: TAKE THIS SURVEY….PLEEEEAAASE!

https://www.esurveycreator.com/s/interior_architecture

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…

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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.

CALIFORNIA ARCHITECTS LOBBY FOR END AROUND CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNERS

UPDATE 6/26

UPDATE 6/30 SEE BELOW

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.

http://www.interiorsandsources.com/interior-design-news/interior-design-news-detail/articleid/17657/title/asid-helps-to-defeat-california-assembly-bill-2192.aspx

AND FROM THE CALIFORNIA  AIA-

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/

REVISITING THE NURSE/DOCTOR-INTERIOR DESIGNER/ARCHITECT ANALOGY

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

doctor-nurse-615x345

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.

http://www.di.net/articles/interior-design-and-architecture/

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

http://www.archdaily.com/353219/pritzker-responds-to-denise-scott-brown-controversy/

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

Conductor-Andris-Nelsons-leads-the-BSO-and-violinist-Baibe-Skride-in-her-BSO-debut-in-Shostakovichs-Violin-Concerto-No.-1-Stu-Rosner

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!

RIVERGATE TOWER AT 25- CELEBRATION OF AN ARCHITECTURAL ICON

RIVERGATE

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

RIVER

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 & MICKEY JACOB

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!

ALL PHOTOS BY ALI DURVISH…NOT USED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.

RIVERGATE TOWER AT 25 YEARS: A RETROSPECTIVE CELEBRATION OF AN ARCHITECTURAL ICON

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.