Category: Minnesota Interior Design Regulation


Minnesota now becomes the front line for the push to legally recognize qualified interior designers to be licensed to practice as peers with, or independent of, other licensed design professionals in that state.  Minnesota is fortunate that it is the symbolic home base to the pro regulation effort. Unfortunately for them the Institute for Justice also has a branch office in that state.  The pro’s and the con’s for ID regulation recently met and pitched their platforms to those so interested in a hearing in St. Paul.

If you are at all interested in this debate please fast forward the video to 1:00:40 and enjoy the show……or not.


And no I am not talking about Certified Irrigation Designers –

Hopefully PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has convinced you that we need to surrender the term “interior designer” to the innately qualified. If you are not convinced please read this and watch the video;

And we wonder why architects hold us in such low regard…..So the term “interior designer” continues to be used interchangeably with “interior decorator” and in my humble opinion no matter how hard we try that will never change. Like calling a tissue Kleenex, regardless of who made it, interior design will always be inexorably linked to interior decoration and all of its drama, divas and stereotypes. Interior design was cleaved from the bosom of interior decoration- we are forever genetically linked- hard as we try to monkey with the gene pool.

I firmly believe that this identity confusion remains the motivation behind the licensing of interior design (other than those who truly wish to sign and seal permit docs). Wielding a license somehow provides us with a sense of validation. In the absence of an accurate and common public identity that honors our efforts to raise the standards of our profession a license is all we have- unfortunately. As the licensing and regulation effort evolves it is becoming common that each state with ID regulation must refer to those so qualified as either a “registered interior designer” (RID) or a “certified interior designer” (CID).  Some states require that the state be acknowledged in the title such as in Wisconsin where designers are required to call themselves Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer (WRID) unlike neighboring Minnesota where the Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design, AKA the Minnesota Board of AELSLAGID for those of you into brevity, requires it’s dues paying members to be simply a Certified Interior Designer or (CID).  Evidently the Minnesota Board of AELSLAGID (excuse my brevity) has not yet been contacted by the lawyers for the Certified Interior Decorators International, Inc. (C.I.D. and the term “Certified Interior Decorator” are a registered trademark filed in Washington, D.C. with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Certified Interior Decorators International, Inc.). This was the case with certified Interior Designers in New Jersey where the CID threated legal action against the CID’s in New Jersey who now must call themselves New Jersey Certified Interior Designers or NJCID’s. Got that? Let me cut to the chase.

Due to the lack of a focused and publicized professional identity we the educated, trained, and certified interior design professionals have no clear identity. Consequently we are burying ourselves in a miasma of different state mandated (CID, RID, State CID’s, State RID’s), half-baked professional credentials (ASID & IIDA) and competing exam credential (NCIDQ® Certificate Number 000000 or IDEX California or CQRID). Not to mention all of the other allied organizations and acronyms that a designer can choose from to communicate their professional status.

It is B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T. and I am tired of it.

After 35+ years of effort to license the title and/or act of interior design we are still no different than any other interior decorator hobbyist or innately talented interior designer and wielding a license does not help. If you can accept that fine (if so you certainly are not reading this blog but go with me here…) if not then we must demand better of our professional organizations.

So here is a thought that will allow ASID and IIDA to continue their disparate representation of the interior design profession vis-a-vis their dues paying members. Since the regulation of interior design affects all of us regardless of our affiliations, I suggest that they relinquish their advocacy of government regulation by creating an independent credentialing, advocacy and licensing entity that would represent only those professionals who wish to pursue voluntary licensure allowing them to practice in codes based (read “commercial”- see my previous post) construction environments as equals to other licensed design professionals (read “architects”). Whether this independent entity/organization also oversees testing and/or accreditation deserves further study. In my opinion the parts are in place. We just need to make better use of them.  If we can muster the fortitude to create such an entity I think coming up with a common name/acronym and brand identity will be the easy part. Such an independent entity would not be beholden to any particular organization, except possibly NCIDQ, and would be better able to provide unified, consistent and much needed leadership for grassroots regulation efforts.

Suffice it to say that ASID and IIDA now realize the benefit of a united front in this regard. It is time to take it to the next level.

P.S. In case you doubt whether we, as a profession, can muster an effective P.R. campaign to promote our true worth to society I worked up the following;

ASID has 30,000 members, IIDA has 13,000 members. 43,000 dues paying members let’s assume 20% students= 34,000 members of which there are a variety of dues amounts from +/- $450.00 for Pros to +/- $265.00 for educators let’s say average $325.00 annual dues from 34,000 members= $11 mill. annually. That assumes that Industry Members are chipping in $325.00 +/- for each of their memberships- Of course there are costs to run these organizations- salaries and O.H. and rent etc. but I gotta believe there could be a well funded P.R. campaing in there somewhere. $11mill. every year……..somebody needs to ask “where’s the beef?”

P.P.S. Speaking of “branding”-

What We Have Here…..

Is a failure to communicate.

Florida for years required anyone marketing their services as “interior design” to get a license that called for six years of education and apprenticeship and a two-day exam. That requirement stunned Barbara Vanderkolk Gardner, a mostly self-taught designer who worked on luxury homes in New Jersey—no license required—and wanted to open a practice in Florida. If clients wanted to hire her to pick out pillows, paints and furnishings, Ms. Gardner says, she couldn’t understand why the state would object: “I view myself as an artist, and I don’t think art needs to be licensed.”

Well maybe those who decorate should just call themselves interior “artists”. Certainly would save us all a lot of bad public relations.

How ’bout a Day of Service?

ASID Designer Showhouse in Minneapolis canceled due to the economy;

While PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER respects the cause and the effort, the platform seems so…I don’t know….80’s.  ASID’ers are certainly free to focus their public relations efforts on the wealthy. But maybe it’s time to reassess your organization’s values (the comments are telling).

In a state with a robust pro-legislation effort it seems that providing a service for the wealthy few may not be the best public relations effort to convince the GENERAL public and Minnesota policymakers that interior designers deserve legal recognition and protection. I’m just sayin’

Is it Interior Architecture or is it Memorex?


So maybe one way to avoid the professional miasma that the term “interior design” has become is to… well avoid the term altogether. Ms. Rose Dunning’s 20 Below Studios in Minneapolis appears to perform every possible design service from interior decorating to architecture. She is correct in labeling her firms work “interior minded design“. She seems to be purposely avoiding the tag interior design. As PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is fond of saying “if professional interior designers do not realize the potential that they have within the building design professions and come together to promote and protect that potential somebody else will”  Score one for the interior architecture camp.

Partner Joe “Hamilton is the only registered licensed architect of the three and is also a certified interior decorator”. A registered architect that is also a CID (certified interior decorator)……….PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER grants Mr. Hamilton the greatest credential combo in the world. Well played…Mr. Hamilton….well played.

Finally let’s give props to a firm that avoids the three partner last name moniker……20 Below Studios….in Minneapolis….PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER gives this firm 2 thumbs way up!

Oh Okay We Were Just Goofin’ With Ya!




From an open letter in the December 2009 ASID Newsletter ICON I have just discovered that ASID no longer supports Interior Design regulation. 

That’s what I get for not being a member….. 


“That’s why the legislative agenda for ASID today focuses on providing clear choices—for designers and the public. 

We are not interested in regulating interior design. Our goal is to open doors for the profession, 

and to clarify choices for designers and clients as to paths they can take to fulfill their professional goals and design needs.”  


So everything you will read on this blog is moot. 


Alllll rrriiggghhhty THEN! 

Okay Buh BYE!

Minnesota Practice Act Legislation Tabled

Well this is unfortunate.  I was unaware that the hearing was scheduled so soon. Please check out the list of those that supposedly attended in opposition. Also please consider the source but it is interesting that the NKBA and AIA were opposed.

Props to Caren Martin and the U of M folks for their efforts.