PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has previously posted about Architecture’s image problems. Because Architecture is, for better or worse, our bastard step-father (metaphor stretch for amusement only) we need to be mindful that not all is comfy cozy in their professional house. Indirectly there are lessons to be learned and in this case I believe there is a big opportunity for the Interior Design profession. But first refresh yourself as to the issues Architects are facing;


While I do not think the image problem that the Architectural profession currently finds itself is new I do think there is a widening polarity in that profession that will make it very difficult for them to overcome. They may need to implode and start over. As long as Aaron Betsky and the Starchitect/Artistes as provocateurs are allowed to set the tone, or have a voice in it, it will. Let’s face it the 1%’ers are the only ones who generally can afford to hire “Starchitects”….we get what is left which is usually value driven and profit motivated. At our level much of the built environment is managed not by designers but by ‘Project Managers” or “Builders”. Much of common Architecture, as Mr. Gehry posits, is Shite. While I do not disagree I find it amusing that he is the one to call out the profession in that manner.

There is no question this is as much an economic issue as one of a conflicted and increasingly polarized profession, like society in general.

Back to my point. Architects have failed on two levels in my opinion. First they have allowed the concept of great (or even good) to be upended by the Starchitect as Artiste faction. Yes mind-blowing innovation is important but just because you can afford to do it does not mean you should do it. And obviously there is a great cost to these “designs”. The stories of blown budgets are legendary. This idea that good (or even great) design comes with a high cost has allowed the bean counters to drive the design discussion on the common level.
Opportunity #1= Good design should not equate to cost.

Professional/Regulated Interior Designers can help change this paradigm.

Second, and more intrinsically tied to the near interaction of the human inhabitants of architecture (read “Interior Design”), is a constant thread through all of the non-Starchitect’s laments (with the exception of Gehry) that “Architecture’s disconnect is both physical and spiritual” (Bingler & Pederson). Ultimately much of modern Architecture as we commoners experience, lacks a soul, or as we Interior Design academics (and Germans) call it “Gemütlichkeit”.

Opportunity #2= Interior Designers who are trained to focus on the human interaction with the built environment should claim the mantle of the profession best suited to design interior spaces that improve the quality of the users lives.

To carry on with German The metaphorical door is now wide open-


I commend ASID for issuing their annual take on the state of the “industry”. Previously I commented on the choice of “industry” vs. “profession” but of course ASID has to cast as broad of a membership net as possible. You should know by now where I stand on this semantic twist.

But of course there is something else for us to consider here. There is a statement in the Dexigner article that really needs to be drilled down lest it become just another ad hominem, purely rhetorical pitch, with no real purpose other than to placate. I do not know if it was part and parcel of ASID’s presentation or Dexigner’s spin on the topic but the statement could not be more true- to wit:

“These data, coupled with an increase in the popularity of “DIY design,” suggest that the industry needs to communicate its value more effectively. Interior designers bring to the table vital knowledge about health, well-being, sustainability, ergonomics and acoustics as well as expertise in building codes, standards and regulations. Interior designers also are well-versed in project and materials management.”

Once again the choice of term used to describe the profession as “industry” already convolutes the premise of the statement. But from PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s standpoint who ever said it could not have stated the larger issue with our…..ahem….”industry” more succinctly.

Begs several questions though; Who’s table is it? Who is invited to the table? and how exactly are we going to communicate all of this?

I know where to get a good table and some comfy chairs- let’s figure this out.


“…..Yet when it comes to taking action to advance the practice, many designers feel overwhelmed. The entire topic can seem too complicated, too political, too abstract. It doesn’t have to be.”

Hmmmm….now you tell me. Guess it depends on how you define “too”.


Props to IIDA and the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter for trying to SUCCINCTLY explain the issue of legally and politically advancing the profession and how we might be our own best advocates. I know for a fact that it isn’t easy to distill this issue down to manageable sound bytes or bullet points.

Again for fear of being labeled an arm-chair (albeit ergonomically designed w/ adjustable lumbar support) critic I truly respect the time and effort involved here. I learn from each of these organizational missives…and I also see lot’s of missed opportunities and mixed messages. My first reaction is that it is complicated, it is very abstract to those who care not to understand it, and it is hyper political. I get the soft pitch approach but if you have to sugar coat it to get the message across to your constituents, the ones directly affected, then how do we expect the general public to understand the nuances…..much less care?

Heck we can’t even agree on a definition…..speaking of which I see IIDA is trying to spin a new one;

Interior Design is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

Finally a definition that is less than a chapter and does not require a glossary. Well done!-No seriously this is the best iteration I have seen. I am overjoyed to see the issue of quality of life included. Hallelujah!

My only concern here is the fast and loose use of “Interior Design”. While we all would like “Interior Design” to hold this meaning amongst the general public (AKA our policy makers) I know (IMO) the common use definition of interior design is far from this (see my previous post https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2014/04/21/pitching-a-new-interior-design-paradigm/) and as long as the public perception blends decoration with design, which it will despite our continued efforts otherwise, the use of Interior Design to describe what we do is a lost cause. Several years ago when I contracted this obsession I assumed we could in fact change the “interior design” paradigm simply by educating the general public…..silly me.

But the legal and political forces, which are onerous and labyrinthine, have convinced me otherwise WE CANNOT CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF “INTERIOR DESIGN” SIMPLY BECAUSE WE SAY IT IS SO. Now if IIDA’s message had begun something like this……

“Code regulated Interior Design is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

or maybe;

“Interior Design, as practiced by Registered Interior Designers ®, is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

Now that is a unique definition that by default eliminates any societal cross-over with ‘Interior Design” as performed by those born with a flair or are innately talented self-proclaimed interior designers….which is perfectly legal -and we all know they are the majority here….. I digress. Heck IIDA North Pacific should understand this as their neighbors in Oregon are trying mightily to change the semantic paradigm to be “Commercial Interior Designer” via https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2014R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB1521/A-Engrossed

How is that not politically abstract?

I know we would all like it to be as simple as changing the meaning of “Interior Design” to match IIDA’s definition but even if we all wore that definition on our shirtsleeves (or had custom tee shirts made….note to self-$$$) we cannot possibly overcome the critical mass of popular perception that considers us nothing more than finish pickers and furniture arrangers.

Now the next part of the definition gets even murkier….

An Interior Designer is an individual who has been trained to identify, research and creatively solve problems pertaining to the development of an interior environment, and who possesses the knowledge and skills to implement these solutions. Interior Designers apply their expertise of Design and the built environment to solving problems at the interior scale and at the level of direct human experience.”

Again on the surface this is the best summation of our profession that I have seen. However, according to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida anybody with a pulse can legally claim the title ‘interior designer” and practice “interior design” despite what IIDA says here. We lost that battle in a very complicated and convoluted legal battle 3 years ago. If the recent ASID ICON article on the future of Interior Design https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2014/03/19/the-future-of-interior-design/ and this IIDA effort to re-spin the professional validation effort are any indication of lessons learned by the Locke v. Shore debacle we have a very long, very complicated, and very abstract game of softball ahead of us.


I am well aware that there are many in the profession that firmly believe that it is possible to instill a societal paradigm shift of their understanding of Interior Design by education (one relative at a time) and lots of behind the scenes lobbying- I wish them well but I have a much different take on this issue……as you may now realize.

Leading Interior Design Company Declares 11% Increase in Cash Dividend

OR WWEAD- (What Would Ethan Allen Do?) Offer free interior design service of course. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER saw this article on Ethan Allen’s success (the furniture chain, not the statesman) I had to comment; Ethan Allen Declares 11% Increase in Cash Dividend DANBURY, Conn. —  Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. (“Ethan Allen” or the “Company”) (NYSE:ETH) announced today […]

ASID, IIDA, IDC, RID, CID, & or NCIDQ- Where To From Here?

Now that the new NCIDQ credential is official the phone has been ringing off of PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s hook…”What does it all mean?”, “Why Should I Care?”, “Which One Do I Display First?”, “How much does it cost?”, “Should I Get The Alphabet Soup or the Acronym Stew?”…………………………

Well one can look at the latest entrant in the professional interior design credential offering as nothing more than a win for the business card printers…….Oh Nooooo not another addition to your list of credentials……..Get me another box of 500 stat!

There will always be those who need to display every possible organizational affiliation, credentialed accomplishment and regulated title after their name. I get it…your title represents and validates your professional accomplishments and you are rightly proud of the effort and cost invested to earn the right to display all of those letters after your name. Maybe some of our clients and non-allied professionals are impressed by all of those letters/abbreviations after one’s name…..or maybe they are just confused. My money is on confused. So if you, like me, think it is TMI, or if you can’t afford the dues/fees to be current on all of those appellations then you must truly consider which credential will provide you the most bang for your buck..or $400.00.


We can start affecting the change in our profession that we would like to see by being strategic about which professional credential/acronym we choose to adjoin our signature. The choice is much more than the amount of letters after your name or the quantity of ink and card stock used to print your business cards.

This will either be a good year for advancement of the profession or business card printers……you decide.