Category: South Carolina Interior Design Legislation

BILLS A BLOOMIN’- Getting Ready for the 2013 Interior Design Legislative Season

It’s only January 28th but it’s 70 degrees outside and this season’s ID bills are starting to bloom- so Spring is nigh (always wanted to use the term “nigh” in a post). First up is South Carolina’s effort for a quasi-title/practice act which was introduced at the end of the day Friday (crafty) and already the Anti-Regulatory team is on the offense.  Here is the bill;

So O.K. I will admit that it is easy for me to arm-chair quarterback these interior design bills. I do not mean to disrespect the good work of the South Carolina Interior Design Coalition and their lobbyists.  The effort to validate the ID Profession via government regulation is a long arduous and thankless process.  But then again maybe it takes an outsiders perspective to assess the potential of this legislation to stir up a s**tstorm of anti-ID backlash. The bitter taste of which will last far longer in the general public’s mind (and our policymakers) than any resultant positive P.R. a successful legislative effort might garner- remote as that possibility is. This unfortunately, in my opinion, is the case with SC House Bill 3417.

I am not an attorney, a paid attorney’s spokesperson, a politician, or a lobbyist but I do play an interior design policy wonk on T.V…..Okay I play it on your monitor….Having read numerous pieces of ID legislation over the years I think I can see issues where those in the trenches might not be able to. Specifically the SC bill starts out on the wrong foot by defining “Registered Interior Design” as thus;

(3)    ‘Registered interior design’ means the rendering of or the offering to render designs, consultations, studies, space planning, construction documents, or the administration of interior construction relating to nonloadbearing interior construction of a building.

First there is no such thing as “registered interior design”. There is “interior design” and “registered interior designers” but nowhere exists the practice of registered interior design- they are basically assimilating the term “interior design” and prefacing it with registered.   This is the first semantic landmine this bill offers.

The second semantic fox pause (South Carolinian for Faux Paus)

Section 40-85-270.    (A)    The provisions of this chapter do not apply to:…………..(2)    a person who provides a decorating service or assists in residential kitchen and bath design, selecting surfaces materials, window treatments, wall coverings, paint, floor coverings, surface-mounted fixtures, or loose furnishings not subject to an applicable provision of a building code, fire code, or local ordinance;

Reading into the strategy behind this exclusion I see inference to distinguish “registered interior designers” from self-proclaimed interior designers by not even mentioning “interior designers”. If this bill passes there will be no “interior designers”…just people providing decorating service and those practicing registered interior design..whatever that is.

Well I can guarantee you that the non-registered “interior designers” in South Carolina who have the backing of the court to call themselves “interior designers”, and most likely far outnumber those qualified professional interior designers are going to have a field day with that loaded exclusion.

It will be interesting to watch the anti-ID regulationists, from the AIA to the NKBA, shoot holes in this one- as they should.

I know every state is different. But there should be a standard model language that lays out the differences between those interior designers who freely choose to “register” and those interior designers who freely choose not to. Present it as a choice of some interior designers who desire to practice within code-regulated construction environments where Health, Safety and Welfare are paramount concerns while those that choose not to are still free to call themselves “interior designers”. Remove any evidence of bias, or semantic exclusion, between the innately qualified and the NCIDQ vetted professionals who choose to practice at the highest level of the profession. If we do this we will render any back-lash from the disenfranchised “interior designers” moot or at least it will come off as nothing but sour grapes.

In short we are interior designers. Some of us wish to become “registered” and others don’t. Those that choose not to have as much right to be interior designers as we have to become “registered interior designers”. Semantic hair splitting?  Not only yes but HELL YES! We have only ourselves to blame for this conundrum.

Good Luck SCIDL






This Just in From the Palmetto State (South Carolina FYI)

“Interior affairs

Anti-competitive bill would create burden, add costs

By Adrienne Montare
Special to Statehouse Report

JAN. 27, 2012 – In an effort to directly compete with architects and to differentiate themselves from other interior designers, a small group of interior designers in South Carolina has crafted a bill that would allow them to provide services far beyond that which is allowed by South Carolina law and those they are qualified to perform.

House Bill 4073 is a bill that would for the first time regulate interior designers in South Carolina — legislation that all but three states in the country have found to be unnecessary, costly and confusing to the public.

Financial burden on the citizens of South Carolina
With a state unemployment rate that still hovers around 9.5 percent and an anticipated continued slow recovery in the state’s economy, any legislation that could potentially make it more difficult for members of the design community to work and remain in business is harmful for South Carolina and its citizens. H. 4073 would prohibit and criminalize much of the work that designers currently perform, without any evidence that this legislation is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Anti-competitiveness and increased cost to SC consumers
H. 4073 is being advocated by a small segment of the interior design community seeking licensure to protect itself from competition. Numerous studies have shown that occupational licensing, especially where the public safety is not in danger, merely increases the cost to consumers by limiting the choices available to them. Given a total lack of evidence that unregulated interior design poses a threat to the public, it is no surprise that the only outcry for regulation of interior designers comes from this small segment – the interior design lobby seeking protection from their competitors.

Unnecessary government regulation
The citizens of South Carolina are already protected by an umbrella of design professionals who oversee the design and construction process – architects and engineers, along with building inspectors, fire marshals and construction code enforcement officials, all ensure that public safety is well protected. Mandating an additional license for interior designers will add nothing to the protection of the public beyond what already exists.

Endangering and confusing to the public
H. 4073 does nothing to increase consumer protection and in fact could put the public in danger if licensed interior designers coordinate the work of other design professionals without the expertise to oversee the design and construction process as a whole. This bill would lead to added regulation, increase consumer confusion and potentially provide an additional burden on the citizens of South Carolina. Licensing an occupation whose work does not affect the life safety of the public is not the responsibility of state government and in the eyes of many consumers could be viewed as fiscally irresponsible.

Adrienne Montare, AIA, LEED BD+C, is executive director of the South Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects.”


“Anti-Competive” Hey Pot meet Kettle.

UPDATE JUNE 11, 2012;
Just discovered the South Carolina ID Coalition website – They see regulation as a means to obtain respect. Wrong.