Tag: Interior Design Degrees

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?

 

 

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.