Category: Colorado Interior Design Legislation

Time for Interior Design to Split

mitosis-02
http://www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-mitosis

For those of you who still visit this site, or receive notifications, you will note that PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has been quiet for the past year.  Several reasons;  First, I have not had time.  Second, not much has been happening on the Interior Design identity front-good or bad.  Third, I am tired of posting the same old diatribes.  Fourth, since I do not tweet or promote my thoughts via  wider social media I find this forum….blogging…rather limited in reach.

If nothing else it helps me to frame my thoughts about this much maligned and misunderstood profession.  If it has any influence above and beyond that then great.

I continue to serve the profession via two of the three ‘E’s (education/experience/examination) and for the time being, find that my time is better invested in that regard.  So unless something earth shattering comes across my Interior Design Identity Radar (IDIR) this will be my last post for a while.

Remember the concept of Mitosis?  “During mitosis one cell divides once to form two identical cells. The major purpose of mitosis is for growth and to replace worn out cells” (http://www.yourgenome.org/ ).

We have spent the past 45+ years trying to make Interior Design into what we think it should be.  It has been so much to so many.  From the innately qualified interior decorators to the licensed professionals who practice at the highest levels of the code regulated building design professions we have all claimed “Interior Design” to be our very own by title and performance.  Some of us have tried to regulate the title. Some of us have abandoned the title altogether (shout out to my IA brethren/sistren) while others have railed against any effort to own the title and redefine it to make it their own.

How has that worked out for any of us?

The world (at least here in the U.S.) still considers Interior Design to be an unessential occupation, a flight of fancy requiring little more than an artistic flair and eye for color. Of course there are exceptions…but you cannot prove my overall assessment to be unfounded.  45+ years…..

Suffice it to say we have done a poor job of defining our value to society. 45+ years.

Interior Design is tired…and may well be “worn out”.  Growth has been limited but the potential is unlimited.  I have used many metaphors to describe our conflicted identity, from familial to militaristic to camping to athletics.  I grow weary trying to conjure another. So let’s try genetic science.

While much of the world endeavors to adapt to an exponentially increasing level of technological advancement, subsequent specialization, and daily disruptions to the status quo we have…well we still cling to our comfy pillow. Why can’t society just accept us for who we are?  Rhetorical question.  Pillow getting a bit flat after 45+ years?

Well here is my FINAL plea for the profession of Interior Design to go biological and split.  It is time Interior Design to become just plain “Interior Design” to include everyone who decorates and designs interior spaces that are not regulated by code, ordinance, standard, law, or any other legal oversight and those who choose to practice “code regulated Interior Design”¹.  The distinction is clear.  Not everyone understands the fine line between interior decoration and interior design.  But most people understand and respect those whose work affects their health, safety and/or improves their overall welfare vis-a-vis regulations and laws.

This is our cleave;  Not “designers can decorate but decorators cannot design”. Not “I am a state certified interior designer and you’re not”.  Not “I went to design school and you did not”.  But simply I am an Interior Designer and you are a code regulated Interior Designer¹.  If we make this our message, or mantra, we can use this simple distinction to easily and effectively self-regulate the professional domain.

NOTE 1: Recent ID legislation (Utah, Oregon, Washington) has contained the title “Commercial Interior Designer” as a means to help policy makers grasp the nuances between those who practice code regulated Interior Design and those who do not.  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER agrees with this semantic ploy but urges us all to fully consider the implications of that distinction. Some regulated Interior Design is quasi-residential in nature…..and many larger communities regulate residential construction in some fashion.   Ultimately PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER really does not care what we call our new form of Interior Design. We just need to adopt a model title and our professional organizations need to adopt their preference and self-regulate based on this split.  There is a way.  Who has the will?

P.S. Code Regulated Interior Design Update.

Pennsylvania just introduced a bill incorporating “Code Regulated Interior Design” in its language.  http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/CSM/2015/0/20088_11187.pdf

Now if they can just loose the “Interior Design” nomenclature altogether, other than to define it as something we are not, we’ll be on to something.

 

 

 

HOW DO WE ADVOCATE FOR THE PROFESSION OF “INTERIOR DESIGN”?

IIDA UPS THE ANTE WITH COMPELLING PRESENTATION ON ADVOCACY….YES I SAID COMPELLING…

But not without some semantic flaws…..more on that later.  Watch the presentation-particularly the video.

https://prezi.com/embed/8uabl5erq9ch/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0&PARENT_REQUEST_ID=bf7836807e1d667c#

Kudos to Karen Hailey, IIDA for creating this presentation and to Emily Kluczynski, IIDA’s Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs for promoting it.  Evidently this was presented to IIDA members in Colorado back in February.  This is the most imformative and entertaining take on the issue of professional recognition and legal/political advocacy that I have seen come out of any ID organization….but hey that’s just me.

That said I am concerned by the continued confusion over the term and ultimately the very definition of “Interior Design”.    The presentation continues to beat the tired old semantic nuances between Interior Decoration and Interior Design as if the distinction is straightforward.  It isn’t.  It never will be.  Within this presentation I counted 5 different prefixes to the traditional term “Interior Designer” that the speakers relied on to help distinguish us from them.

US=

  1. “Educated”
  2. “Qualified”
  3. “Licensed” (grossly misunderstood)
  4. “Registered”   &
  5. “Certified” Interior Designers

Then by default THEM=

  1. Uneducated- Ouch
  2. Unqualified- Maybe…..but who makes that call…state boards I guess?
  3. Unlicensed- Only in 2 states and D.C….but whose counting?
  4. Unregistered – Well only where “Registration” is legally enforced which is the exception.  Or
  5. Non-certified Interior Designers…Certified as in passing NCIDQ, or by the State, or as in California (which this presentation dances around) privately “Certified”….confused?  You should be.

Why do we continue to think this is an acceptable way to advocate for our profession?  Hell I can’t keep it straight.  The one term/prefix I did not hear or see is “Commercial” Interior Design(er) – which is how IIDA is positioning itself to be different than it’s allied professional organization ASID.  At least that prefix gets at the difference between Commercial vs. Residential Interior Designers which in my opinion is a much cleaner distinction – even for the layperson- I digress.

To Ms. Kluczynski’s credit she did reference Andrew Abbott’s Theory of Professionalization from his book ‘The System of Professions- An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor” to provide some perspective on our profession and how it has evolved.  I refer specifically to Abbott’s stage #2 “Name change of the occupation to help create definition for the new profession“.  The presentation then alludes to the evolution of “Interior Design” from “Interior Decoration” which occurred sometime in the 1950’s…..well yes…..Interior Design did evolve from Interior Decoration but somebody forgot to tell the general public that that happened-evidenced by the brief street interviews included in the video.  So without acknowledging the almost 30 year and constitutionally illegal effort by the profession (mainly ASID) to legally own the term/title of “Interior Design(er)” we continue to flail at how to differentiate us from them.  50 years ago is an eternity in the evolution of professions….haven’t we evolved beyond mere “Interior Design” at least as it is understood by the public?

So as Jenny West of Knoll asked in the video “How can we clear up the blurred line between decoration and the profession of Interior Design?”- my simple answer is we can’t.  Let’s stop trying to use legal prefixation of the term “Interior Design” and let’s stop beating ourselves up trying to redefine “Interior Design” and make it what we want it to be by way of legislation.

If we are going to talk like Educated/Qualified/Licensed/Registered/Certified  Interior Designers then we should also walk like one…..Sarcasm intended.

INTERIOR DESIGNER vs. INTERIOR DESIGNER- WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

membership-780x350image from http://idc-oregon.org/

Can Interior Designers ever distinguish themselves from Interior Designers in order to advance the profession via government regulation?

Okay read that question again….does it make sense to you?  Well from where I am sitting it makes no sense but yet that is what numerous well intended interior designers are trying to do by pursuing government regulation. These interior designers freely invest copious amounts of time and energy into the grassroots effort to achieve recognition by their state legislatures.  They have my respect simply because they want to improve the status of the profession.

However, since the term “interior designer” is not a protected title anybody with a pulse can call themselves an ” interior designer” and many people do- qualified or not, professional or not, educated or not, breathing or not.  Unfortunately it is typically the unqualified, innately talented self-proclaimed interior designer that society equates with the term “interior designer”. Why should they support regulation of a profession (if they even consider it one) that requires no particular training, education or skill?  Answer is they don’t.

You cannot expect the general public, vis-a-vis our policy and law makers, to understand the difference between an interior designer and an interior designer…..no way- no how.  (Case in point: http://www.designntrend.com/articles/10266/20140118/kourtney-kardashian-shows-amazing-interior-design-skills-alice-wonderland-themed.htm)

index

If you do not see, or agree that there is, a semantic barricade then there is nothing else here for you to see….move along.  If however, you recognize that there is a conflict here please read on.  Let’s figure out a way around this impediment to our professional advancement.

So what we have is an intractable bi-polar divide within the profession.  Each side has clearly stated their platforms for ID regulation and against ID regulation.  You and I may be able to sort out the truth from the lies but how can we expect our policymakers to sort through the flack to see our side of the profession?  Unfortunately as I have posted 300+ times before they can’t.

Those in favor of ID regulation say “Licensing provides a level of accountability that is otherwise non-existent.   It is for consumer protection.”

Those who oppose ID regulation say “There is no consumer outcry demanding interior design legislation”

Those in favor say “Licensing interior designers will allow the qualified to work to the fullest potential of their training and education”

The opposition says “occupational licensing reduces employment growth, contributes to unemployment and increases costs to consumers,”

The pro legislation side claims we are educated, trained and tested  to sign and seal construction drawings to procure building permits.

While the anti-regulation contingent claims that architects already do this and there is no need.  Unfortunately the AIA agrees….I digress.

One interior designer says this and another interior designer claims this……How can we clarify this for society and our policy makers? Since the advent of the Locke v. Shore ruling in 2010  http://ij.org/locke-v-shore   the profession has attempted a mighty policy tack to distinguish our regulation attempts by using the title “Certified Interior Designer” or “Registered Interior Designer”.  I have asked this before? Why do we need legislation to do this?

We have to decide if we are pursuing regulation to distinguish ourselves from the innately qualified thereby limiting that competition or if we pursuing regulation as a right to practice issue.  Two very different end games requiring two very different game plans. Let’s figure that out first huh.

Yet the effort to distinguish the profession by use of overly subtle title nuances continues.  Seems like a lot of effort for little to no gain. How can we change this?

The Oregon interior design coalition http://idc-oregon.org/  for instance has proposed legislation in that state that distinguishes “Commercial Interior Design” from “Interior Design” https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2012/01/27/oregon-commercial-interior-designers-push-for-practice-license/
Seems like a reasonable way to distinguish those that practice in code regulated environments vs. residential interior decorators/designers but there is no legitimate profession called “commercial interior design”.  Again the Oregon IDC has my support for their effort to advance the profession but I cannot support such semantic cleaving simply to avoid confusion.

So how can we present a professional domain that is Interior Design- but isn’t?

Well we can start by regulating ourselves. If we co-opt the term “Registered Interior Designer” BEFORE we pursue any legislation to regulate the term we do not have distinguish ourselves from “interior designers”.  If they have not earned the right to “Register” themselves in the free market…then they should not have any issues with those who have so proven their baseline competence to become “Registered”and ultimately “licensed” thereby rendering their anti regulation competition concerns moot.  In other words we need to create a professional identity that is clearly not interior design and is not performed by “interior designers”.  Whoa you may have to think about that one again.

Register first then pursue legislation to protect the term and the practice.

Which will take less time…trying to distinguish ourselves politically and legally via Uncle Sam or distinguishing ourselves in the public domain first then pursuing legislation based on that self-regulated title and practice?

My money is on the latter.  Hope I am around long enough to confirm it.

P.S. Okay if you are scratching your head I can’t blame you.  Again if you do not agree that this is an extremely nuanced and convoluted (by our own doing) issue then you probably are laughing this diatribe off…..at least you are laughing.  Others of you are probably thinking “isn’t legislating the title ‘Registered’ Interior Designer the easiest and most direct way to distinguish ourselves from our interior design brethren and consequently redefine the profession of “interior design” to be what we want it to be- isn’t that what we are doing? It seems to be working.”  Well no..it’s not working.  Hence this blog.

Architects are all licensed….why can’t we follow their lead?

Okay here’s another way to look at it.  Prior to the regulation of the occupation we know as “Architecture” as practiced by “Architects” they (architects) had…ohhh…about 500 years of proving their value to society. They became a learned profession in which the title “Architect” garnered immediate respect and those who practiced “architecture” without the prerequisite education, apprenticeship and examination became rarer as the profession developed, one and two, they were quickly outed and reprimanded by the professional domain of “architects” either legally, professionally or in dark alleys.  Ultimately over time architects came to legally own the title of architect, at least within the built environment.  The general public came to understand this and generally accepted it. 

We do not have that luxury. The general public has no idea what we do or why we deserve legal recognition.  Because we do not legally own the term “interior design” and in my humble opinion we never will….we cannot make it what we want it to be simply by creating title regulation.  However, who’s to say that in 500 years we may not have worn down the innately qualified self proclaimed interior designers into resignation…..”all right all right you can have it….we’ll just call ourselves interior decorators and let you have the title to be you own...” Sorry….that aint gonna happen- not even in 500 years.   

So we have to concede that interior designers will never be able to own the term interior design and make it their own, legally politically or professionally. 

Time to consider a new paradigm.   The one I suggest above may not be the best solution but if you agree that there is a problem then I have accomplished something.  If you don’t see this I hope you can comment and let me know. THANKS FOR READING

NOTE TO SELF

It’s been awhile since PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER added anything positive to the effort to validate the profession of interior design-which is the purpose of this blog.  Lest I be labeled a chronic whiner I woke up this morning and said to my self-

Self….Self…..Wake Up….It’s time to stop posting obtusely cynical observations with no real merit- You need to make a positive contribution to society….Hey….why are you going back to sleep…….ZZzzzzz z zzz zz.

I think we agree that the effort to legislate interior design has evolved from distinguishing the qualified from the not, to- pursuing the ability to practice as peers with, or independent of, other licensed design professionals.  To that end ASID in particular has amped up their legislative advocacy efforts to be more current and transparent;

http://www.asid.org/legislation/resources/

So in regard to current interior design legislative efforts this is all well and good.  (see PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER can be positive).

But when I came across this recent newsletter item from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association regarding Colorado ID’ers recent effort to legislate the practice of ID in their state;

http://nkbarockymountain.org/senate-bill-120-defeated-in-the-house-local-government-committee/

I got to thinking.

It seems that the ability to pull building permits for one’s own interior design work is ultimately the holy grail of independent practice.  Sure there are other minor practice issues that ID practice legislation will promulgate but owning the entire design process is why we regulate.  Yes?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has investigated the permitting issue and I believe that maybe our focus on practice regulation may be missing the mark.  As stated in the NKBA article,

“The primary reason given by most representatives voting in opposition to this bill seemed to be that it would have created redundant language that already exists in the exemption under the Architectural statutes giving NCIDQ certified designers the right to submit non-structural plans for building permits. Several representatives questioned the proponents’ arguments that an additional statute would improve the plan submission process that in some cases has been shown to be inconsistent. A sentiment expressed by one representative was that the permitting process by its very nature in requiring building departments to make judgment calls on the quality of submissions is inherently prone to inconsistences and this affects other design and building disciplines, not just interior designers.”

Given my limited but growing knowledge of the permitting processes in other states where ID’ers have implemented some form of permitting legislation (Colorado, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, Florida amongst others) it seems that the deciding factor is not legal recognition as a registered or licensed design professional but how the state building statutes (AKA Architectural  statutes) address the permitting process and how the local jurisdictions interpret those statutes.  In other words it seems that the existing building/permitting ordinances are what we should focus our efforts on- not creating new regulations.  Oh sure if we could implement reciprocal nationwide practice licensure like architects and engineers there might be less misinterpretation/bias on the part of the local code officials but let’s face it- we’ve been at this 35+ years and we are only officially licensed in 3 states (and 2 territories).

So maybe instead of focusing our advocacy efforts on forcing new regulations on a state by state basis maybe we should be focusing those efforts on national level building code implementation, state level building statutes, and local level building code enforcement.  A monumental effort and true paradigm shift to be sure….but one I suspect may house our holy grail.

In other words it appears we can’t beat them. Maybe…..with some strategic reinvestment of resources just maybe we can join them.

P.S.  I am not saying that we should abandon the effort to regulate the practice of ID. I realize this is a critical component of the parity/independence issue.  Some ID’ers are very qualified to be the prime or lead designer on larger projects and should have the legal right, and inherent liabilities, to own that responsibility.  My point above is simply that if permitting rights are the goal then we have a lot of work to do on that front as well.  Divide and conquer?

Speaking of Politics

Of the 23 +/- states with some form of title or practice legislation in place Colorado is a bit unique in that they have permitting legislation in place.  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER really does not know if existing permitting legislation  actually provides opportunities for interior designers to permit their own work, where building permits are required.  As a skeptical optimist I am dubious and judging by the Colorado Interior Design Coalition’s recent efforts to clarify their permitting privileges via Colorado SB-120  there appears to be some confusion and misinterpretation on the part of Colorado code officials.

http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2012a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/22DF4CC74546BFF887257981007E0093/$FILE/120_ren.pdf

http://www.iidarmc.org/wp-content/uploads/FINALFact+Sheet+-SB+12-120.pdf

So why should we care?

Well first of all, and most relevant to my previous post, it appears that the bill was put on hold indefinitely because the Colorado Senate was sidetracked by a same-sex union issue that consumed all levels of the state government.

http://www.naiop-colorado.org/Portals/1/PDFs/Legislative%20Docs/2012/NAIOP%202012%20End%20of%20Session%20Report.pdf

That’s politics folks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next point is that when we sort out our efforts to validate our professional status via legislation, the ability to own our work all the way through the code restricted process is the primary objective.  Or it should be- let’s not forget Uncle Sam makes a poor public relations officer.  There are several examples of states in which permitting privileges for sc called “qualified”, “certified” or “registered” interior designers are in place.  Based on my knowledge of California’s crazy quasi-private voluntary self-certification permitting process their results could be termed “mixed” at best. So I assume Colorado’s efforts are also mixed at best. Georgia also recently snuck in some permitting legislation in conjunction with their title act but I have not heard if it has proven effective or not.

Maybe it’s time that the proponents of ID legislation (read ASID) actually fess up and assess the status of their 40 +/- year effort to validate the profession and provide practice rights for interior designers. I suspect the results would be disappointing.

But I am more than happy to be proven wrong.