Tag: Colorado Interior Design Regulation



But not without some semantic flaws…..more on that later.  Watch the presentation-particularly the video.


Kudos to Karen Hailey, IIDA for creating this presentation and to Emily Kluczynski, IIDA’s Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs for promoting it.  Evidently this was presented to IIDA members in Colorado back in February.  This is the most imformative and entertaining take on the issue of professional recognition and legal/political advocacy that I have seen come out of any ID organization….but hey that’s just me.

That said I am concerned by the continued confusion over the term and ultimately the very definition of “Interior Design”.    The presentation continues to beat the tired old semantic nuances between Interior Decoration and Interior Design as if the distinction is straightforward.  It isn’t.  It never will be.  Within this presentation I counted 5 different prefixes to the traditional term “Interior Designer” that the speakers relied on to help distinguish us from them.


  1. “Educated”
  2. “Qualified”
  3. “Licensed” (grossly misunderstood)
  4. “Registered”   &
  5. “Certified” Interior Designers

Then by default THEM=

  1. Uneducated- Ouch
  2. Unqualified- Maybe…..but who makes that call…state boards I guess?
  3. Unlicensed- Only in 2 states and D.C….but whose counting?
  4. Unregistered – Well only where “Registration” is legally enforced which is the exception.  Or
  5. Non-certified Interior Designers…Certified as in passing NCIDQ, or by the State, or as in California (which this presentation dances around) privately “Certified”….confused?  You should be.

Why do we continue to think this is an acceptable way to advocate for our profession?  Hell I can’t keep it straight.  The one term/prefix I did not hear or see is “Commercial” Interior Design(er) – which is how IIDA is positioning itself to be different than it’s allied professional organization ASID.  At least that prefix gets at the difference between Commercial vs. Residential Interior Designers which in my opinion is a much cleaner distinction – even for the layperson- I digress.

To Ms. Kluczynski’s credit she did reference Andrew Abbott’s Theory of Professionalization from his book ‘The System of Professions- An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor” to provide some perspective on our profession and how it has evolved.  I refer specifically to Abbott’s stage #2 “Name change of the occupation to help create definition for the new profession“.  The presentation then alludes to the evolution of “Interior Design” from “Interior Decoration” which occurred sometime in the 1950’s…..well yes…..Interior Design did evolve from Interior Decoration but somebody forgot to tell the general public that that happened-evidenced by the brief street interviews included in the video.  So without acknowledging the almost 30 year and constitutionally illegal effort by the profession (mainly ASID) to legally own the term/title of “Interior Design(er)” we continue to flail at how to differentiate us from them.  50 years ago is an eternity in the evolution of professions….haven’t we evolved beyond mere “Interior Design” at least as it is understood by the public?

So as Jenny West of Knoll asked in the video “How can we clear up the blurred line between decoration and the profession of Interior Design?”- my simple answer is we can’t.  Let’s stop trying to use legal prefixation of the term “Interior Design” and let’s stop beating ourselves up trying to redefine “Interior Design” and make it what we want it to be by way of legislation.

If we are going to talk like Educated/Qualified/Licensed/Registered/Certified  Interior Designers then we should also walk like one…..Sarcasm intended.


It’s been awhile since PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER added anything positive to the effort to validate the profession of interior design-which is the purpose of this blog.  Lest I be labeled a chronic whiner I woke up this morning and said to my self-

Self….Self…..Wake Up….It’s time to stop posting obtusely cynical observations with no real merit- You need to make a positive contribution to society….Hey….why are you going back to sleep…….ZZzzzzz z zzz zz.

I think we agree that the effort to legislate interior design has evolved from distinguishing the qualified from the not, to- pursuing the ability to practice as peers with, or independent of, other licensed design professionals.  To that end ASID in particular has amped up their legislative advocacy efforts to be more current and transparent;


So in regard to current interior design legislative efforts this is all well and good.  (see PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER can be positive).

But when I came across this recent newsletter item from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association regarding Colorado ID’ers recent effort to legislate the practice of ID in their state;


I got to thinking.

It seems that the ability to pull building permits for one’s own interior design work is ultimately the holy grail of independent practice.  Sure there are other minor practice issues that ID practice legislation will promulgate but owning the entire design process is why we regulate.  Yes?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has investigated the permitting issue and I believe that maybe our focus on practice regulation may be missing the mark.  As stated in the NKBA article,

“The primary reason given by most representatives voting in opposition to this bill seemed to be that it would have created redundant language that already exists in the exemption under the Architectural statutes giving NCIDQ certified designers the right to submit non-structural plans for building permits. Several representatives questioned the proponents’ arguments that an additional statute would improve the plan submission process that in some cases has been shown to be inconsistent. A sentiment expressed by one representative was that the permitting process by its very nature in requiring building departments to make judgment calls on the quality of submissions is inherently prone to inconsistences and this affects other design and building disciplines, not just interior designers.”

Given my limited but growing knowledge of the permitting processes in other states where ID’ers have implemented some form of permitting legislation (Colorado, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, Florida amongst others) it seems that the deciding factor is not legal recognition as a registered or licensed design professional but how the state building statutes (AKA Architectural  statutes) address the permitting process and how the local jurisdictions interpret those statutes.  In other words it seems that the existing building/permitting ordinances are what we should focus our efforts on- not creating new regulations.  Oh sure if we could implement reciprocal nationwide practice licensure like architects and engineers there might be less misinterpretation/bias on the part of the local code officials but let’s face it- we’ve been at this 35+ years and we are only officially licensed in 3 states (and 2 territories).

So maybe instead of focusing our advocacy efforts on forcing new regulations on a state by state basis maybe we should be focusing those efforts on national level building code implementation, state level building statutes, and local level building code enforcement.  A monumental effort and true paradigm shift to be sure….but one I suspect may house our holy grail.

In other words it appears we can’t beat them. Maybe…..with some strategic reinvestment of resources just maybe we can join them.

P.S.  I am not saying that we should abandon the effort to regulate the practice of ID. I realize this is a critical component of the parity/independence issue.  Some ID’ers are very qualified to be the prime or lead designer on larger projects and should have the legal right, and inherent liabilities, to own that responsibility.  My point above is simply that if permitting rights are the goal then we have a lot of work to do on that front as well.  Divide and conquer?

Speaking of Politics

Of the 23 +/- states with some form of title or practice legislation in place Colorado is a bit unique in that they have permitting legislation in place.  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER really does not know if existing permitting legislation  actually provides opportunities for interior designers to permit their own work, where building permits are required.  As a skeptical optimist I am dubious and judging by the Colorado Interior Design Coalition’s recent efforts to clarify their permitting privileges via Colorado SB-120  there appears to be some confusion and misinterpretation on the part of Colorado code officials.



So why should we care?

Well first of all, and most relevant to my previous post, it appears that the bill was put on hold indefinitely because the Colorado Senate was sidetracked by a same-sex union issue that consumed all levels of the state government.


That’s politics folks.







The next point is that when we sort out our efforts to validate our professional status via legislation, the ability to own our work all the way through the code restricted process is the primary objective.  Or it should be- let’s not forget Uncle Sam makes a poor public relations officer.  There are several examples of states in which permitting privileges for sc called “qualified”, “certified” or “registered” interior designers are in place.  Based on my knowledge of California’s crazy quasi-private voluntary self-certification permitting process their results could be termed “mixed” at best. So I assume Colorado’s efforts are also mixed at best. Georgia also recently snuck in some permitting legislation in conjunction with their title act but I have not heard if it has proven effective or not.

Maybe it’s time that the proponents of ID legislation (read ASID) actually fess up and assess the status of their 40 +/- year effort to validate the profession and provide practice rights for interior designers. I suspect the results would be disappointing.

But I am more than happy to be proven wrong.

Colorado ID’ers Aim to Formalize Permitting Privileges

But I thought they already had “permitting” privileges. Not if you ask the Colorado AIA;


So I guess there is some confusion and the Colorado ID’ers are seeking to sort it out;


Should be another case of who’s lobbyist can beat up the other’s lobbyist.

My money is on the AIA- sorry Colorado ID’ers.