Kudos to Emily Kluczynski, IIDA’s Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs for putting this presentation together. 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.


“Licensed” (grossly misunderstood)
“Registered” &
“Certified” Interior Designers
Then by default THEM=

Uneducated- Ouch
Unqualified- Maybe…..but who makes that call…state boards I guess?
Unlicensed- Only in 2 states and D.C….but whose counting?
Unregistered – Well only where “Registration” is legally enforced which is the exception. Or
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 ‘InteD

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…..


image from 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 […]


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 […]

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.

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.

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.