Category: International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers


Well why didn’t you tell me that 35 years ago?

More proof, or evidence as we design wonks are prone to call it, that our professional identity is…..well it isn’t professional and it isn’t really an identity.

More of a joke………

Then why am I weeping?


Over the past 20 years there has been a remarkable shift in how we design and build buildings.  In response to a rising concern over the impact buildings have on our environment those who have even the most minute stake in creating the built environment are now aware of, if not directly influenced by, the effort to minimize the impact construction and operation of buildings has on our eco-system.  It has changed the way we think and the way we work.  Sustainability is now a real and achievable goal instead of some abstract and fringe ideal.

Initially we were happy to be less bad.  Then we realized that creating buildings that had zero impact on the ecosystem was possible. Now with the living building challenge ( we are actually creating buildings that contribute, or give back, to the ecosystem.  Think about that for a minute……..

We have actually gone from a Chartreuse green to vivid green in one generation.

This is a real and important paradigm shift that in itself is sustainable, as it should be.

Most of us are familiar with all of the various measuring/rating systems used to evaluate and verify that a building, its designers, its constructors and its owners are in fact building green if not sustainably. USGBC’s LEED being the most prominent and influential of those rating models

Unfortunately in PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s opinion the bulk of these rubrics and validation models are based on how well the building has been designed, built and/or how well it performs.  It seems that it is a foregone conclusion that if the building is environmentally sensitive then the actual occupants and users of that building will perform well too.   Hence the point of this thread.


We all get that buildings influence human behavior and for the existentialists in the audience we humans influence how buildings behave- I digress. The human/environmental relationship is clear and the evidence, both positive and negative is copious.  Architects and Interior Designers have been performing post occupancy evaluations for years but the data rarely results in widespread recognition or public outreach. The answer is out there.

What we need is a universal and uniform rubric or metrics…..and no I am not talking about some arcane research project in which the data is understood only by the research statistician.  We need a rating system that assesses how the users/occupants of a building, green or not, perform.  This rating system needs to be publicly accessible and pre-school clear- akin to the LEED certification model which uses valuable metals as a coding system.  It could be as simple as;




I will leave the actual semantics to you. I would also suggest that the actual award be something more substantial than a glass plate.  Just sayin’

This is a tremendous opportunity for the interior design profession. The USGBC was initiated by a group of concerned manufacturers and vendors.  They have the financial where with all to support such a rating system for human performance and user well-being. We are the ones with the knowledge and moral obligation.  So the idea is out there…..which one of our professional domains will grab it and run with it?

So how about it Steelcase, Herman Miller, Johnson Controls, Philips Lighting, Interface, USG……..and on and on….ready to shift another paradigm?

P.S. Like I said the answer is out there. The Center for the Built Environment at Berkeley (amongst others) has created the research inertia for a human performance/user well being rating system.  Here is a link to their research page;




PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is forming an exploratory committee (can you have a committee of one?) to determine if there is sufficient interest in holding a STATE OF THE INTERIOR DESIGN PROFESSION summit at NEOCON 2013.

This summit meeting would be a broad overview of the current state of the profession as well as the future potential of a better informed profession.

Easier said than done- I know. But unless you have a better idea to reach out to as many like-minded professionals as NEOCON offers I have to try this.

So here are my thoughts at format and ground rules. The Summit will be a panel presentation from representatives of each aspect of the professional domains- Education, Experience, Examination and Regulation after which we will have a question and answer session. The Summit will not accept sponsorship from any of our professional organizations. It must be a forum free of party lines and special interests. We should be free to speak frankly and openly, both positively and negatively, without fear of retribution. I would however accept sponsorship and participation from our profession’s non-profit education and certification entities since they are most critical to us moving forward. We also would welcome participation by industry media.

We have to publicize this event beyond the walls of the Mart and the pages of our own media outlets. It’s time to stop preaching to the proverbial choir.

Now as far as who can attend……well that is a tough one. I am dubious we can restrict entrance to a certain segment of the “profession”. We could limit it to NCIDQ credential holders but students and those working toward the exam need to hear this as much as anybody. Therefore I am for a full and open meeting. We may have to hire bouncers. Anyway that is the kernel of my idea.

Anybody care to help make this happen?

The mark of a true professional is giving more than you get.
Robert Kirby

Interior Design and Interior Architecture

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has stuck his nose into this issue before and it is not my intent to belabor the definitions, differences, distinctions, etc. again. For those of you that are interested in the many semantic, practical and existential differences I offer this AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community Podcast titled “Grow Your Practice- The Interiors Advantage

In this 23+/- minute discussion Timothy Hawk and Mary Burke (assumed R.A.’s and AIA members) talk about the differences between architectural practice and interior architecture practice. Both make good points in this regard. However, at about 13:33 they are asked to describe the difference between IA and ID. Again I have to say both were diplomatically erudite in their response particularly when they state that ID is a subset of IA- I am sure that will rankle a few ID’ers. Anyway based on my knowledge of the two fields this blurb represents the AIA party line.  Interesting stuff- any thoughts?

P.S. Okay I said I was not going into the definition of, or differences between, interior design and interior architecture but the one comment so far got me to thinking OUCH! So here I sit with a B.S. Degree in Architecture, an M.S. in Interior Design, 23+ years practice primarily within architecture firms, three of which were spent on one project as the “interior architect of record”, I now teach at a University that houses both an Interior Design Program and an Interior Architecture Program. Although not technically an “architect” I think I am qualified to offer an opinion, in fact I owe it to the many interior designers and architects that I have worked for and with throughout my career. So what is the difference?

First we have to acknowledge that for one to be an interior architect he/she has to be trained as an architect, must have passed the Architects Registration Examination and must be licensed as an architect in the state(s) in which he/she practices in order to call themself an “interior architect”. Beyond that little technicality and overlooking the fact that the AIA does not have an exterior architecture knowledge community (ahem)-  here is the rub;

 As an architect, interior architects think differently.

So in that regard the podcast was somewhat correct. Architects think differently so often they listen differently. I agree that for an architect to be successful at designing interior space they actually have to adjust their listening skills. Some have done this quite successfully (see Arthur Gensler) while others not so much.

Also architects look at buildings differently- they see the holistic picture whereas a traditional interior designer might miss key contextual cues because frankly they are not taught to consider the buildings feelings- only the users…sarcasm intended but 4 dimensional gestalt is a foreign concept to most ID’ers let’s be honest.

So I am good with the first 13 minutes of the discussion. Interior Design being a subset of interior architecture…..well my dog stops hunting at that point.

Texas Interior Design Bill 2011

I am not sure where this stands but somebody clearly wants to eliminate ID registration in the big state of Texas….Hmmmm!


Who best represents you and your profession?

You can have this; 

You can have this;

You can have this;

In Florida you can have this;


In California you can have this;

AND/OR THIS- Who Really Knows? 


If you are fed up with the vitriole and petty turf and ego battles…………you can have this;


It is the nature of Humankind not only to use spaces, but to fill them with beauty and meaning.

Skillfully designed spaces can arouse in us a sense of purpose, or a sense of the profound.

In the spaces that are important to us, we experience not only a sense of place, but a sense of who we are, and of what we can be.

Thoughtfully designed spaces help us learn, reflect, imagine, discover and create.

Great spaces are indispensable for great creative cultures.

They encourage connections between people, ideas and entire fields of thought.

As design professionals, our knowledge enables us to form spaces that respond to human needs.

These human spaces are the domain of our competence, our passion and our work.

We use space responsibly.

We practice our profession with highest regard for engaging the world’s economic and natural resources in a sustainable manner.

We design for health, safety, well-being and the needs of all.

It is, after all, for Humanity, our ultimate client, that we design.

We shape the spaces that shape the human experience.

This is what we do, what we create, what we give.

It is how we earn our place at the human table.

It is why our work is important to our clients, to our societies and to ourselves.

It is the difference we make and why we choose this noble profession.

VALUE- “The profession provides leadership and utilizes an iterative and interactive process that includes discovery, translation and validation, producing measurable outcomes and improvements in interior spaces and in the lives of the people who use them. This process delivers economic, functional, aesthetic and social advantage that helps clients understand the value of their decisions and enables better decisions that are beneficial to users and to society.  It is recommended that the profession become a trusted voice and develop multiple research models in the context of physical, emotional and behavioural patterns of users.” 

RELEVANCE- “The profession defines projects at their commencement, and champions human experience at all levels. Interior designers and interior architects synthesize human and environmental ecologies and translate science to beauty addressing all the senses. The practitioner listens, observes, analyzes, improves and creates original ideas, visions and spaces that have measurable value.” 

RESPONSIBILITY- “The responsibility of interior designers and interior architects is to define the practice and the required expertise, educate ourselves and the public, and to position ourselves in the public realm as experts in the built environment.  The responsibility of interior designers and interior architects is to advance the profession and advocate for social well-being.”

CULTURE- “As a creative enterprise, interior design and interior architecture are a mode of cultural production. They are a place-maker that interprets, translates, and edits cultural capital. In a global world, interior design and interior architecture must play a role in facilitating the retention of cultural diversity.” 

BUSINESS- “The profession of interior design and interior architecture provides value to the stakeholders.  It improves well-being as a factor of economic development.  It provides strategic thought leadership resulting in multifaceted return on investment. Interior designers and interior architects advocate education for the ongoing benefit and awareness of the profession.”

KNOWLEDGE- “Theoretical, applied, and innate knowledge are fundamental to the practice of interior design and interior architecture. The confluence of environmental psychology and the science of anthropometrics are critical to the quantitative and qualitative knowledge that form the practice of interior design and interior architecture.”

IDENTITY –“Interior designers and interior architects determine the relationship of people to spaces based on psychological and physical parameters, to improve the quality of life.”

 Posted with permission of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers a partner of The International Design Alliance


I would be interested to hear who you choose and why.

International Interior Day Down Under

Same misperception…just upside down.

In case you missed it – World Interiors Day was celebrated last month. As part of their celebration a group of Aussie design students did an impromptu survey as explained here;

In the end the results sound eerily similar to our domestic identity crisis;

From the many responses received in the survey, the overall public perception of the profession appeared to be confused, with many answers based on the premise of interior decoration “making a place look nice”, with general styling and color as the operative. Interior Designers were mostly seen as “an expensive option” and a “luxury profession”.

We are in the same boat but rowing in different directions – Getting Tired?