A refresher first. We are 2/3rd’s of the way through my multi-step platform, or how I see the profession of code regulated interior design establishing an identity that distinguishes it from the larger occupation of interior design/interior decoration which is unaffected by building codes and standards. Essentially what I am proposing is that those of us whose identities and careers are limited by the continued misperception and lack of respect for our expertise and ability to practice at the highest levels of the code regulated building design professions must force a change in the current societal understanding of “interior design”. I am certain that my peers agree that such a paradigm shift is necessary in order to truly advance the profession. I am uncertain however, that we are willing to do what is necessary to establish an identity that is unique from “interior design”. This particular post addresses my concern that we cannot simply legislate our way to societal respect and equality with our peer licensed building design professions.
If you just joined in please start at the beginning of this thread. If you are still with me thanks for hearing me out. The next steps are a challenge to rationalize in byte-sized chunks. Bear with me.
Licensure is a right to work issue based on proven abilities to protect the health, safety and welfare (HS&W) of the public and NOT a means to validate the profession.
Since the 1970’s those interior designers who learned, and subsequently earned, a level of expertise in the design of code regulated interior spaces have been using regulation as a means to distinguish themselves from those who simply work up one morning and self-proclaimed themselves to be an “interior designer”. That is with the exception of the previously mentioned GBCIDS. We have a 40+ year history of trying to legally own the title of interior design and to redefine it as our own. For the past 6 years and 340+ blog posts on this website I have been railing against the common perception that we can actually regulate our way to societal respect and resulting legal protection from the unqualified and innately talented. This paradigmatic shift in our collective understanding is without a doubt the largest cognitive hurdle in my platform.
Granted since the 2010 Locke v. Shore ruling in Florida the profession, vis-a-vis ASID & IIDA, have made some strides in trying to shift the professions collective understanding of regulation away from a means to distinguish the qualified from the self-proclaimed to one that is more focused on expanding interior designers rights to practice. It is an economic liberty issue not a means to draw a line in the occupational sandbox. We deserve the right to practice to the fullest of our learned/earned potential based on our abilities to protect the HS&W of the public as codified by building codes, standards and related built environment legalities….just like every other licensed building design professional.
Unfortunately this message has not crystallized among the wider profession simply because it would mean that those who do not practice in code impacted design environments would not benefit from such a razor-sharp distinction within the profession of interior design. Some will see this as an infringement or in some way unfair to them. Not if we let them be “interior designers”. I believe that it is possible to do this without postpartum consequences. But it will require us to step back and reconsider much of what we have taken for granted. We need to better regulate ourselves before we ask Uncle Sam to do the heavy lifting via regulation/licensure.
It is time to leave the interior design nest for good.
This is the crux of my proposition. We must have the courage to cleave the profession into interior designers and code regulated interior designers (final title terminology TBD). This is our job…..not Uncle Sam’s.
Now if I have not convinced you that “licensure” is not the answer to our conflicted identity issue let me try this.
Licensure is a political and legal quagmire that we are not prepared yet…to realize substantive success.
Okay if you are still with me please read this recent pronouncement from the Institute of Justice which puts interior design front and center in its campaign to eliminate occupational regulations and licensure http://ij.org/report/license-work-2/report/the-protectionist-origins-of-licensure/
I am not going to delve into the multi-year and well-funded effort to deregulate the profession of interior design here. You are welcome to read my previous 320 posts to catch-up. But if you aware of this war on our right to practice at the highest levels of the code regulated building design professions you understand the gravity of this situation.
Interior Design is the poster child for the anti-regulation movement.
I have been trying to elevate this issue to the forefront of our professional advocacy efforts for years. While there has been some improvement in the advocacy arena we are still clearly on the defensive and the offense (deregulation proponents) continues to have the upper hand.
Unfortunately this is a political issue. Many of us shy away from such topics. That is understandable – but it is unhelpful AND potentially disastrous for the profession as well as your ability to practice to the fullest of your capabilities.
Unless you are happy that interior design regulation is in the deregulation cross-hairs you have to be asking yourself “what can I do?”
Well I have several answers, or suggestions, for you to ponder.
- Inform yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to become political.
- Ask your professional organizations what their advocacy efforts are nationally and locally.
- Volunteer to help with those advocacy efforts.
I want to clarify here that advocacy for the profession does not necessarily mean political/legal or public sector advocacy ONLY. We have to be better advocates of our profession and its value to society on the private side of the social spectrum as well.
Essentially once we determine that the best way forward is to adopt a new professional identity we have to broadcast that message so that the general public begins to understand our value to society. If we present a united front that promotes our abilities and knowledge to practice as peers with other licensed building design professions, whose work affects the HS&W of the public, as opposed to pursuing title regulation that seeks to simply codify the qualified from the not, then and only then can we realize success on the regulatory front.
Yes I understand that there are many states that have laws in place are based on our prior 40 years of effort to own the title interior design. However, if we parse out all of the interior design regulation in the U.S. we will see that the majority regulates the title and not the act of “interior design”. This is a vestige of our past 40 years of trying to own the title “interior design”. I understand there are a few states that have managed to enact legislation that provides for state registered/certified interior designers to actually own their work through the permitting process and I hope that this paradigm shift can allow those jurisdictions to maintain their practice regulation.
In short we will need to address the value of existing regulation and be able to redefine the profession in a way that maintains regulatory success as well as allows existing title based acts to either sunset or be amended. Easier said than done I know. But how many interior designers were infringed upon or forced to grandfather in our old model of interior design legislation. We did it once….well I have faith we can do it again in a much smarter more forward thinking combination of private self-regulation and public legislation that will let interior designers be interior designers without all the attendant political drama and ongoing identity confusion.
But it isn’t going to be easy. Which leads me to step #7. Stay tuned.