Category: NCIDQ

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Architect’s Analysis of Interior Design Legislation UPDATE

If you read my earlier post regarding Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer’s (WRID) effort to pursue permitting privileges via Wisconsin Senate Bill 303;

https://wordpress.com/post/professionalinteriordesigner.com/7000

Then you will be interested in the AIA’s latest missive regarding WRID’s legislation efforts as well as proposed legislation to implement Sunset Reviews of Wisconsin’s licensed occupations (Wisconsin Senate Bill 541);

https://www.aia.org/articles/6239136-occupational-licensing-sunrise-reports-and

First and foremost the above article posits a misleading summation of WRID’s objective from the get go.  To wit;

At the same time, legislation has been introduced to revise Wisconsin’s existing ”title” law governing the registration of interior designers and expand the scope of interior design practice to include architecture – 2019 Senate Bill 303.

TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR……Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer’s do not want to practice “architecture”.  This Trumpian stretch of reality,  should render Mr. Babcock’s argument presumptuous at best or suspicious at worst.

Previously I chose not to waste my time, or yours, by not offering a counter to the AIA’s position vis-a-vis the Wisconsin Chapter’s July 10, 2019 article.  But for those who care to consider more than one side to this issue here in red italics, is my tit for tat response to Mr. Babcock’s opinion piece.

Does the unregulated practice of interior design clearly harm or endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public and is the potential harm recognizable and not remote or speculative?

BABCOCK: The proponents of the interior design legislation have not identified any instances of harm to public health, safety or welfare caused by the unregulated practice of interior design in Wisconsin. The “sunrise” reviews of interior design proposals in Colorado and Washington failed to uncover clear evidence that the unregulated practice of interior design harms the public.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: First let’s address “unregulated” interior design.  Unregulated interior design can in fact be practiced by anyone with a pulse.  Much like unregulated “architecture” that is practiced on a daily basis by all sorts of unlicensed folks (builders, developers, contractors, etc) typically under the guise of non-permitted residential work or other licensed building professionals.  Now if you want to change your original query to;

“Does the code regulated practice of interior design clearly harm or endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public and is the potential harm recognizable and not remote or speculative?”

See… the answer changes dramatically simply by adding the prefix “un” to “regulated”.  While it is true that only seven states have codified the practice of “interior design” allowing licensed/state registered interior  designers to legally practice in code regulated interior design environments there is no question that the interior designers in these states deal with numerous health, safety and welfare concerns on a daily basis.  I am not about to cite all of the slip and fall and hazardous/flammable material litigation that is clearly in the purview of the interior designer but suffice it to say that the International Building Code dedicates  several chapters ( 8, 11, & much of chapter 12) to what is commonly the work of a qualified code regulated interior designer…..many of whom work dilligently within AIA member’s firms contributing to the success and bottom line of those firms.  Why is that?

Can the public be reasonably expected to benefit from requiring interior designers to be licensed?

BABCOCK: Proponents of expanding the scope of interior design practice offer an unsubstantiated economic rationale that it could reduce the cost of certain projects by eliminating the need for an architect or professional engineer. However, the purpose of long-standing state requirements that an architect or professional engineer be involved in projects of this scope and size is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. The “sunrise” reviews of interior design proposals in other states have concluded that state licensing is not necessary because the public can reasonably expect that an interior designer is a competent practitioner through certification, testing and experience requirements established by related professional associations.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: FACT- When an interior designer is hired by a building owner to perform interior design services, either directly, or vis-a-vis a design firm , within a jurisdiction where local codes require a registered design professional to sign and seal construction drawings in order to obtain a building permit, those interior designers must seek the services of a Registered Architect. This occurs regardless if the interior designer performed 100% of the design work and personally confirmed acceptance with local building codes.  This is a cost burden for the owner since there seems to be a legal lock on that market limiting building owners options for regulated interior scope services.  Happens day in and day out and the AIA knows it.  Unfortunately the interior designer, who may actually be more qualified to perform those interior design services, than said registered architect, must surrender the ownership of their design and somehow account for the cost of duplicated effort to obtain a building permit.  The added cost and the infringement on qualified interior designers to own their own scope of work and provide options for building owners is very real.  

This little slice of permit monopoly is what Mr. Babcock is arguing for.

Taking Mr. Babcock’s logic here to its fullest extent, and as he alluded, architects should also be subject to sunset scrutiny as the vast majority of code regulated building design, as far as ultimate responsibility for the safety of the users/public is concerned, is performed by licensed structural and M/E/P engineers and not said architects.  Why should states shoulder this duplication of HS&W responsibility and administrative cost?

What is the least restrictive regulation of interior designers that would effectively protect the public?

BABCOCK: In Wisconsin, anyone can offer to provide interior design services. Wisconsin’s “title” registration law only regulates who can use the specific title “Wisconsin registered interior designer.” Title protection laws represent one of the least restrictive levels of state regulation. With no evidence to the contrary, the existing state regulations for interior designers effectively protect the public. The proposed interior design legislation is not necessary. In fact, a legislative report on state occupational licensing submitted by DSPS in December 2018 recommended that Wisconsin eliminate the existing title registration for interior designers because it one of the “most burdensome licensing requirements of all occupations.”

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: Again the semantics here are important….yes anyone can provide interior design services.  But the second those interior design services fall within the realm of code regulated design services the laws obviously change.  This is where the WRID designation factors in.  WRID’s have proven themselves via education/experience/examination to be competent to practice code regulated interior design.  The current title law ensures that those who claim such competency are in fact registered with the state.  The current effort to add permitting privileges to the WRID title act is simply an effort to expand consumer options and their right to work to the fullest of their knowledge and abilities…much to the AIA’s chagrin.

What are the licensing requirements for interior designers in other states?

BABCOCK: Wisconsin is one of 19 states with voluntary title registration for interior designers without permitting authority. In addition, 21 other states do not regulate interior design at all. The 40 states with either title registration or no regulation for interior designers include our neighboring states of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. The recent DSPS state occupational licensing study noted that only four states regulate the practice of interior design.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: Well given the AIA’s formidable resistance to qualified interior designer’s right to own their work and provide a competitive cost environment for building owners we cannot claim nationwide licensure.  Suffice it to say that our little profession is working on that and Wisconsin SB 303 is just one example.  Hence the AIA’s interest in misinforming around the real reason for their concern.  Their long standing legal control over the code regulated built environment has suffered from the chipping away of their dominion by specialist trades and professionals who do in fact offer building owners safe and cost effective options.  Certified/Registered code regulated interior designers are next in line.

Conclusion

BABCOCK: The interior design proposal does not meet the criteria for state occupational licensing established in the “sunrise” legislation. It is unnecessary because it fails to increase consumer protection or enhance public health, safety and welfare. There is a straightforward alternative that would not involve any statutory or administrative rule changes. In Wisconsin, if interior designers want to practice architecture, they can apply for an architect license by using their qualifying interior design education and work experience and passing the required Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: Once again Mr. Babcock we do not want to practice architecture.  We simply want to practice to the fullest of our trained and vetted professional potential.  Taking your conclusion to its fullest extent should we say that licensed building contractors, you know the ones who actually build your visions, and assume liability thereof, should also be required to take the ARE?  I think you know the answer but certainly would not admit it.

Make no mistake about Mr. Babcock’s article, this is not really about public safety and which profession is best suited to master that domain in our best interest.  No it is simply a way for the AIA’s small firm members to protect their small petty piece of professional services turf.

In conclusion (mine) I urge all certified interior designers, who work within Architecture firms, to open a dialogue with their peer RA’s to consider just how petty and protectionist the AIA’s position on denouncing qualified interior designer’s right to work efforts.  In the end a licensed interior designer can only enhance the professional collaborations that both professions, and the public, can benefit from.

There is enough work out there for both of us.

 

If This Is Interior Design………….

and she is an “interior designer”…… then why would I want to be a “certified” version of this?

https://www.ktnv.com/morningblend/dwg-home-decor-11-22-19

Once again if we, the code regulated commercial interior designers of America, wish to establish a public image that demands understanding and respect we need to do one of two things;

  1. Establish a public messaging campaign that will overcome decades of confusion and misunderstanding of  interior design and the interior designer’s role in the design of the code regulated built environment.   OR
  2. Leave “interior design” to the innately qualified by creating our own unique professional identity* that distinguishes us from “interior designers” by default.

If anybody has a better idea please come forward.

*See Interior Architecture.

P.S. If you think the above popular media piece in the nation’s 39th largest T.V. market  is a rare one-off segment you are wrong.  It is by far the most common public face of “interior design”.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.

 

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO INTERIOR DESIGN STUDENTS IN THE GOOD ‘OLE U.S. of A.

So this article from the Louisiana State University Reveille came across my screen yesterday;

https://www.lsureveille.com/news/some-lsu-interior-design-students-want-to-change-degree-name/article_05974fc2-01f5-11ea-9f21-170a20137f86.html

First I commend the LSU ID students and faculty for taking on this issue.  Since I somewhat follow this topic I took a moment to understand what the students were actually considering.  Well duh!

They want respect.  Plain and simple and ‘Interior Design” does not provide that.

I get it.  BUT…………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Yes there are many “Interior Design” programs that have adopted the title “Interior Architecture” in response to the same issues you are struggling with.  But that does NOT make it right nor will it eliminate your problem.  Stay with me here…………..
  2. Unfortunately the academic side of the profession of interior design has let the ‘interior architecture” cat out of it’s bag.  It is going to be difficult if not impossible to lure it back in so that we can present a meaningful, unified and independent “interior design” profession that can in fact earn its place among our peer licensed building design professions.  As an academic and an “interior designer” this deeply concerns me. I am glad that you share my concerns.
  3.  I am not so sure that “the terms “interior design” and “interior architecture” are interchangeable” as Professor Campbell states.  At a higher level I agree the nuances are arguable and is much like the line between interior decoration and interior design…mohair fuzzy.  But when one is on the ground actually practicing the design of code regulated interior spaces the nuances become MUCH more complicated and they have serious later career implications. As students it is easy to be short-sighted.  You just want to get a job in a career that you can be proud of….20 years down the road is way off your radar.  It shouldn’t be.
  4. I call B.S. on the justification that “Interior Architecture” is a more common descriptor for our peers in Europe.  Interior design students need to understand context in order to properly develop a design solution so these points should be clear;  North is up and this is not Europe. Prove me wrong.
  5. Be wary of any tacit or direct allegiance with “Architecture” lest you loose your independence and become simply a subset of “architecture” (AKA subservient).  A lot of effort has been expended to create a unique and independent  career path that, while it has its identity issues, still has far more potential in providing meaningful career options for students.  Turning your back on the effort has some very heavy long term implications.  Proceed with your eyes wide open.

Now my most important point for all U.S. based interior design students, who are not enrolled in a NAAB  accredited program in which you are earning a degree that will allow you to take the ARE so that you can pursue state registration as a licensed architect- you will not be able to use the title “Interior Architect”.  Despite what your diploma may state you will still be relegated to practice as an interior designer.  Again I welcome anybody to prove me wrong on that point.

Ultimately students, you can actually call yourselves, and academic programs can label themselves, whatever they want. We can debate the ethics of all of this title nonsense till the sun sets in the East.  It isn’t……ethical.   But when you are in actual practice within a code regulated and professionally licensed design environment titles matter.  Legally.

My final 2 cents to the LSU students and any other current or emerging interior design students is that changing your program name is not the solution.  Your time and enthusiasm would be better spent asking these larger questions of your current academic and professional organization leaders;

How can the “interior design” profession capture the societal respect and recognition that architecture and engineering conveys?

If interior designers are also interior architects, as many argue, then what is the profession doing to address that very thorny title dilemma?

Why is “interior design” constantly thought of as a lesser occupation than architecture and engineering?

What are you doing to resolve the title confusion so that we can be proud of our chosen career path and practice to the fullest extent of our knowledge and skills?

These are not rhetorical questions.  Have somebody tell you.  That is why they are getting paid the big bucks.

P.S. Full disclosure…I just do not want to pay to change my domain name to PROFESSIONALINTERIORARCHITECTANDDESIGNER.COM so stop with the interior architecture talk will ya?

 

 

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Architect’s Analysis of Interior Design Legislation

Or In Other Words; What Interior Designers Are Really Qualified To Do According To The AIA.

In response to Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer’s (WRID) effort to pursue expanded practice rights with permitting privileges via Wisconsin Senate Bill 303 , the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects felt it necessary to inform the public just what it is we do, or what we are not supposed to do, by launching this missive to the internet;

https://www.aia.org/articles/6173635-analysis-of-interior-design-legislation

Should I analyze their analysis?…….Hmmmmm……..No I have to attend to more important things like helping my interior design students understand that they are unable to practice their chosen profession to the fullest extent of their knowledge and expertise simply because the AIA continues to perpetuate this antiquated, erroneous, and totally unimportant protectionist good ole boy political territorial pissing match.

Can you tell how I feel about this?

NOTE TO THE AIA.  We do not want your jobs! But we do want to do ours.

Good grief don’t you have better things to do with your dues monies?

That is not a rhetorical question.  Other than telling us how we are unqualified to do our jobs, you know the ones you GUYS rely on daily to satisfy your clients and make money based on our knowledge and expertise, I have yet to see a reasonable argument that does not reek of protectionism and even sexism.  Yes I just said that.

Anybody care to answer?

It seems that the profession of code regulated interior design has learned to avoid the pitfalls of pitching interior design legislation that infringes on the rights of those who simply decorate.  Now we have to work on our Registered Architect allies, AIA dues paying members or not, to convince them that a regulated and licensed interior design profession is ultimately best for them, the code regulated interior design profession, and our paying clients….you know the ones that put dinner on your Florence Knoll dining tables.

So keeping on with the musical analogies here is a song that I think best fits the AIA’s stance on our efforts to become licensed peers;

IT’S THE MESSAGE PEOPLE!

beach bottle cold daylight
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Now that we have beaten back another effort to deregulate the profession of code regulated interior design, this time in Florida, again (see previous post), it is time to ask ourselves the proverbial question….

“WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING?”

My short answer is that interior designers do not deserve to be regulated…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….(pause for effect)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“BLASPHEME!”– you say.  Let me explain.

Unfortunately for us, the public perception of interior design is far different than the reality of code-regulated or commercial interior design.  So when we stand before a lawmaker or policy maker and we ask them to consider creating a law that regulates the practice of “interior design”, or we are forced to defend existing interior design laws from deregulation efforts, our message is less than cogent and convincing.  There is, unfortunately, a wide gap in perception between the message bearer and the receiver.  We often use helpful descriptors such as “we are ‘commercial’ interior designers”, or “we are ‘certified’ interior designers”, etc. to close that cognitive gap and to interject some distinction.  After all the lawmakers we are speaking to simply represent the general public and we all know what the general public thinks about interior design and interior designers.

So most policy and law-makers, when confronted with the issue of licensing interior design are left to ponder “why should we regulate a profession that has no impact on the health, safety or well-being of the public”?  While we (the code regulated) all know the truth and reality of our social obligations toward public safety and welfare we have not been able to frame and promote that important distinction in the realm of interior design.

My mission (nay obsession) has always been to compel those educated, apprenticed, and NCIDQ certifed code regulated interior designers to rethink their message.  This “message” includes what we call ourselves, how we define ourselves, how we promote our value to society, and ultimately how we parlay that message into serious consideration as peers with our allied licensed building design professions.

I am well aware that the profession hangs it’s hat on the official definition of “interior design”  which clearly describes, in great detail, a vision of “interior design” that we all wish was commonly understood.  Many of my peers maintain that with time, persistence and patience we can realize a paradigmatic shift in the public perception of our true value to society by promoting our version of interior design.  On the other hand many of my peers have acknowledged their doubt in our ability to define our way out of this identity conflict by adopting “interior architect” as their go to title.

Frankly I do not blame them.  While many see this as simply a way to engender a modicum of respect it is hard for me to see this title transgression as nothing but a vote of no confidence in “Interior Design”.

When will we ask our collective selves……“Why do we feel obligated to defend our domain from those who do not fit squarely into our vision?”   When will we stop trying to convince the public what we are not decorators as explained in the ever present “difference” argument?

The Professional Difference Between”Interior Designer” and “Interior Decorator”

 

Many people use the terms “interior design” and “interior decorating” interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways.  Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. 

Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things.

In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants’ quality of life and culture.  Designs respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project.  Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.  The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology — including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process — to satisfy the client’s needs and resources. 

U.S. states and Canadian provinces have passed laws requiring interior designers to be licensed or registered and to document their formal education and training.  Many states and provinces also specifically require all practicing interior designers to earn the NCIDQ Certification to demonstrate their experience and qualifications.   By contrast, interior decorators require no formal training or licensure. 

https://www.cidq.org/find-ncidq-certified-int-designer

Those pesky interior decorators, who have every right to call themselves “interior designers”, simply will not cease confusing our public image.   Hence the ongoing battle for the title of “interior designer” and its incumbent, albeit intangible, professional identity and societal respect.   

And for those emerging interior design professionals who think this identity crisis is simply the result of us being a young, still emerging  profession, I offer this proclamation from the late great interior design progenitor Florence Knoll;

                 “I Am Not A Decorator!                   

Sound familiar?  This is essentially, albeit using other descriptors, what our policy makers and family members hear when we stand before them to defend “interior design”.

So you are thinking Ms. Knoll said that in her later years…..say 2014? No.

Given her lengthy career maybe she uttered those words say in…..1994? No.

1984?  No.

1974?  Well okay you are getting warm.

Try 1964.   Think about that dear readers…..both of you.  Since Ms. Knoll uttered that defense we are now onto our 3rd generation of interior design professional.  Yet we face the same perceptual confusion and right to practice road blocks.  Yes it just keeps “HAPPENING”.

So as you can see this has been going on awhile.  Have I made my point….again (see previous 350 posts on the subject)?

When will we recognize that we do not own “interior design” and we cannot define, or legislate, our way to respect?

When will we realize that we have to change the message in order to shift the paradigm?

Unfortunately PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is an outlier.  I accept that.  I will never be asked to sit at the grown-ups table while they continue to ignore the 800 pound pink tutu wearing gorilla sitting in the corner of the profession.  What keeps me going is the hope that in 55+ years some poor interior design academic or professional will be neural blogging the same message via BCI telepathy…..

…..And did you know that PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER proclaimed on his old school internet blog;

“I AM NOT A DECORATOR”

And do you know when that was? 

2039?  No.   

2029?…….No.

Carry on.

 

 

 

FLORIDA HB 27 AND THE EFFORT TO DEREGULATE CODE REGULATED INTERIOR DESIGN- 2019 EDITION

UPDATE 5/9/2019

The effort to deregulate the practice of interior design in the State of Florida has been unsuccessful.  In other words Florida Registered Interior Designers have won their fight to remain independent of other licensed building design professionals.

Below is my original post on the subject.

I have noticed an uptick in views over the past couple of days and I hope that it is because the state of Florida is proposing to deregulate the practice of commercial interior design among many other regulated professions.

This is not the first time this movie has been shown.

If you want to see the bill as of 4/4/2019 click here http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00027

Here is the summary of the bill as it has passed through several committees- Interior Design is addressed on page #9  http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/27/Analyses/h0027e.COM.PDF

As of 4/4/2019 The bill has made its way out of several committees and appears to be headed for a floor vote.  READ THAT AGAIN….THIS BILL HAS INERTIA AND COULD VERY WELL BECOME LAW.  BUH BYE LICENSED INTERIOR DESIGN IN FLORIDA!

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO THINK THIS IS A LOCAL ISSUE – THE PRECEDENT THIS WILL SET WILL BE DEVASTATING TO THE PROFESSION OF CODE REGULATED/COMMERCIAL INTERIOR DESIGN.

Correct me if I am wrong.  I am happy to be proven wrong on this point.  I will update the process as soon as I know.

Here is the link to the video of the Commerce Committee Debate.  It is long but very informative not only in regard to the deregulation of Interior Design but the logic behind the deregulation effort in general. https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/VideoPlayer.aspx?eventID=2443575804_2019041079

If you by chance are a Florida policy maker and are seeking some clarity to the issue let me be brief.

An NCIDQ Certification is not the same as a “license” to practice in a highly restricted code regulated building design process.  Rep. Ingoglia is unwilling to make that clarification and in my opinion is greatly misleading Florida’s policy makers.

Rep. Ingoglia claims that ‘nothing will change” when Florida Registered Interior Designers can no longer crimp and seal their drawing in order to submit them to their respective building departments.  He states and the record shows that

The bill allows interior designers who have passed the NCIDQ examination to submit plans for interior design to a local permitting agency if such agency requires such plans. 

Sure…Mickey Mouse can submit plans for interior design to a local permitting agency but if he is not a licensed/registered design professional, as stated in the International Building Code, the local permitting agency will in no way accept those plans…Even if Mickey Mouse is a NCIDQ Certificate Holder.

THE NCIDQ CERTIFICATE IS NOT A LICENSE!!  Big difference.

Ergo if you take away the Florida’ DBPR’s ability to issue a State License to qualified code-regulate Interior Designers you will put them out of business..or at best they will have to pay an Architect or Professional Engineer to oversee their work and then assume the liability thereof by applying their own seal and signature.

How does this brilliant move expand opportunities?

This is not creating a free market.  It is increasing the Licensed Architects monopolization of the building design permit process.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that most Florida Registered Interior Design Professionals are female owned small business…………

 

How Do I Become An Interior Designer?

If you reached this site because you are interested in pursuing a career in interior design in the United States (or Canada- to an extent) please know this;

  1. This site is not funded or financed by anyone. I am not here to promote any particular interior design degree/certificate program or interior design organization (do you see any ads?).  I am here to help you make informed decisions without any judgement.
  2. I am an NCIDQ Certified Interior Design profession with 25 years of commercial and residential design experience.  I have also been teaching interior design for the past 14 years at a highly regarded 4 year interior design program.
  3. Interior design is a broad and somewhat ill-defined occupation.  It can be confusing and if you make the wrong decision in your journey…it can also be very expensive.
  4. This blog post is focused on getting to the point.  The internet is getting clogged up with a lot of information.  I want to help you cut through it. Even sites such as the U.S. Government’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics, while helpful, can be overwhelming at this stage of your journey.
  5. I will provide links to trusted sources so you can explore your options a bit deeper but know you should be on the right path.  Okay ready?

Q- WHAT TYPE OF INTERIOR SPACE DO YOU WANT TO DESIGN?

A) I want to design people’s homes.  I love to watch home make-over shows and videos.  I prefer the more artistic aspect of design and do not want to deal with a lot of technical, or complex, problems.  While I am confident in my innate sense of creativity I also know that some specialization, such as kitchen and bath design, does require some advanced training.

OR

B) I want to design restaurants, nightclubs, high-end retail, and hotels.  I like the ultra creative aspect of glamorous entertainment or shopping spaces but I do not want to get too technical or bogged down with the details.  I do not want to design people’s homes….too much drama for me.

OR

C) I want to design a variety of commercial interior spaces including hotels, retail, healthcare and offices.  I am interested in Architecture and want to help design the interior spaces of larger buildings.  I like technical challenges, working in teams, and find solving complex problems rewarding.

OR

D) I want to design residential and commercial interior spaces that are creative and also help the client live a better quality of life.  I want to make a difference for people of all ages and social levels.  I enjoy working in dynamic and challenging environments with other like-minded professionals.

If you fall on the fence between the above options that is fine.  Read the details and that should help you focus on one path.

If you answered ‘A’

Okay your options are actually pretty wide open here.  You wish to pursue a career in interior design that utilizes your innate creative skills but does not require knowledge of building structures (math…yuk!), codes, standards or regulations.  You are more interested in furnishings and colors than wall framing or floor joists.  More commonly known as interior decoration there is a lot of cross-over into interior design.  At a minimum you will need a baseline knowledge of floor plans, construction and materials.  Obviously the more you know in this regard the more valuable your skill-set becomes.  You may not need to know any advanced computer design programs but, as with any profession, a general knowledge of basic office programs is essential.  Again the more you can offer a prospective employer in the area of technical skills the broader your options.  Ultimately this aspect of interior design requires no formal design education but if you wish to pursue advanced education or certification to elevate your opportunities in this rather competitive aspect of interior design here are several legitimate organizations that can provide much more detail for your consideration.

The Interior Design Society

The National Kitchen & Bath Association

Certified Interior Decorators International

The Home Furnishings Association

A note of caution here.  Since this is the lest restrictive aspect of interior design there is a lot of misleading info on the internet in this regard.  Buyer beware.

If you answered ‘B’

If you wish to pursue a design career that deals with public commercial spaces such as restaurants, hotels or chic retail stores you have two sub-options to consider.

  1. I prefer to be involved with the furnishings and color choices for these spaces and not so much the details or technical aspects.   OR……..
  2. I would like to be involved in the planning and construction of these types of spaces. I am technically inclined and understand that there are many codes, regulations and standards that must be dealt with.

If #1 above describes you then your choice aligns with career path ‘A’ above.  It is possible to find a rewarding career decorating and furnishing these types of commercial spaces without any advanced education or certification.  But your involvement will be limited to those aspects of the project that do not involve building codes  which are typically performed by other licensed or registered design professionals.  Again if you do pursue some advanced education or certification, or demonstrate an affinity for technical skills your options will be greater.  See the links under path ‘A’ above for more detail.

If you answered #2 above then you are beginning to head down career path ‘C’ described below.  In order to practice in any form of commercial architecture or interior design, which must abide by building codes and life safety standards, you will typically need an advanced/accredited education.  Most likely you will also need to validate your baseline knowledge and competency to work in these regulated environments by earning your NCIDQ Examination certificate.  See the links under path ‘C’ below for more details but there is one professional membership organization that will have good information for those who may straddle the professional fence between residential/unregulated design and commercial/code regulated interior design;

American Society of Interior Designers

If you answered ‘C’

Interior designers that practice in commercial spaces that are typically regulated by building codes (does it need a building permit?), life safety regulations, accessibility requirements, and other contractual obligations will need an advanced education, monitored apprenticeship, and a certification via examination.  While innate talent is helpful one must also be able to work on complex problems in a team environment that is driven by time sensitive deadlines.  If this is not your ideal environment then consider career path ‘A’ or ‘B’ above.  One can expect to invest at least 6 years in order to practice at this level of the profession.  Here are some important links to review and consider;

The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (accrediting body for interior design college degree programs) I am not in the business of ranking ID programs- you are on your own there.

The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (oversees work experience programs and administers the accepted industry standard examination)

The following professional membership organizations also have good “how to become” interior designer information;

International Interior Design Association (commercial interior design focus)

American Society of Interior Designers (residential and commercial interior design members)

Canadians wishing to pursue a career in code regulated interior design here you go;

http://www.idcanada.org/

If you answered ‘D’

Congratulations!  You are here for the right reasons. I commend you.  That said your career path options are a bit more open.  I am going to show my bias here but if you truly want to help people lead better lives or livelihoods, apart from a career in medicine, I am not sure of a better option.  In order to achieve some level of influence in this regard you will want to practice at a level that it is overseen by federal, state and local regulations.  An awareness of various public policies and socio-economic trends will be helpful.  Research, information gathering and problem seeking skills play an increasingly important role.  Hence an accredited education will be important to have any influence. If these topics scare you do not get discouraged.  Again your objective is noble and the profession needs you.  With that you should explore career paths as described by the links under career path ‘C’ above.  In addition you should explore the following human health, and design for social justice links;

Well Buildings (oversees programs promoting building design that promotes human health and wellbeing)

Institute for Human Centered Design

 

So there you have it.  I hope this has been of some help to someone.

If you are still confused or uncertain please let feel free to ask me a question.