THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-REGULATION & THE DECORATOR vs. DESIGNER TITLE MATCH

WWE-Triple-Threat-Tag-Title-Match,-RLA-Melb-10.11.2007

I have spent a lot of bytes on this blog pointing out the drawbacks of relying on Uncle Sam to validate our professional status via title and practice legislation.  Unfortunately we tend to lump our decorator vs. designer identity crisis in with the massive effort to gain regulation that codifies our right to work in code regulated building design environments.  This broad objective for legislation causes confusion among our policy makers and raises the ire of those who feel that we are infringing on their rights to practice as interior designers.

While some see the effort to advance the profession using government regulation as the only path to distinguishing the qualified, ( earned credentials from “NCIDQ Certified” to “Licensed” to “State Registered Interior Designer/RID” to “State Certified/CID” to “ASID/IIDA/IDC/ARIDO etc”) from those who are unqualified (“Hmmm my Mom tells me I have a flair for color and I feel like being an Interior Designer today!”), I maintain that it is our responsibility to enforce the distinction.

We have to prove to Uncle Sam that we are serious about our right to work in code regulated design environments with other licensed design professionals before we can expect his full attention and respect.

In other words, it is not Uncle Sam’s (or Mother Canada’s- for our Northern neighbors) job to distinguish Interior Designers from interior decorators.  Unfortunately this common perception that interior decoration and Interior Design are interchangeable is the bane of our effort to advance the code regulated aspect of the profession. How much time have you spent trying to explain the difference between interior decoration and Interior Design?  Frankly the differences are so subtle that it is virtually impossible to educate the uninformed in an elevator pitch.  Hell I have been doing this 35+ years and I have trouble defining the nuances in way that succinctly defines our differences.  We need to stop with the academic and abstract explanations and start citing tangible and justifiable examples.

Regrettably,  for the vetted design professional, anybody can call themselves an “Interior Designer” and no amount of legislation and regulation will change that. So how do we earn respect as regulated design professionals whose primary focus is the health, safety and well-being of our clients, if others continue to blur the distinction between vetted design professionals and those who decorate and claim to be “professional” or “certified” when they are not?

Whose job is it to make sure the code regulated Interior Design professional domain is clearly defined and defended?

The answer is that it is up to us to make sure those who claim to be “qualified”, “certified”, “registered”, “professional” and most definitely “credentialed” are in fact what they claim.  While it may seem elitist or protectionist to police such claims it is essential if we want to add value to our conflicted and contested profession.

We have to ask ourselves “can the general public understand and respect the difference between someone who claims to be an “Interior Designer” and someone who claims to be a “Certified Interior Designer”…particularly when they are practicing in a state that does not have title legislation in place?

I find the efforts of the Certified Financial Planners to promote their message of qualification to the general public extremely relatable.  The CFP board seems to be focused and proactive in this regard.  The CFP enforcement of professional standards is admirable. Their national campaign to help the general public understand the nuances between a financial planner and a Certified Financial Planner are quite effective in my humble opinion;

 

Keep in mind  that it is a violation of professional ethics (ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ) to claim you have achieved professional status, or earned professional certification, within those organizations, when you have not.  That line is typically very clear and inarguable.  Of course there are many other forms of “certification” and many ways to define “professional” but to claim you are a member of the profession it is easy to confirm- or should be.

We need to do more of this self-policing and we need to start calling out the violators wherever and whenever we can.  We failed to take ownership of the title “Interior Design” in the courts but it is not illegal to begin a campaign to redefine Interior Design by shifting public perception…..or helping people understand what it is not.

Case in point.  We have all witnessed the evolution of on-line design service providers…much to our chagrin.  Laurel and Wolf Interior Design seems to be one site that has gained traction in the competitive dotcom decorator posing as designer foray.  I appreciate the convenience for those who have the money to spend on interior decorator services and I appreciate the fact that many interior designers and decorators can earn income from this site.  We should not denigrate them but we certainly can differentiate by countering their claims.

So is this really “Interior Design“?  And are Laurel and Wolf’s “top designers” actually “certified” Interior Designers?

Well in my not so humble opinion NO- it is not “Interior Design”. This site is clearly about “Interior Decoration”  and is in fact the epitome of decoration (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Let’s start calling it what it is…a website that promotes residential interior decoration. Again not that there is anything wrong with that.

To the more important question of certification or qualification…… Let’s just say that Laurel and Wolf plays fast and loose with the idea of “Certified” designers.  Many of the designer profiles do not have any certification at all and several list unaccredited degree and academic certificates of dubious origin as confirmation of being “certified” Interior Designers.  A degree is not the same as being “certified”…that is a big stretch.

Let’s start reporting those individuals who may be bending the truth about their real “certifications”.  ASID/IIDA/NCIDQ should all have easily accessible rosters of current/active dues paying members so we can confirm false claims of professional or associate membership where that applies.  With that they should also be able to enforce their membership rules.

Other cases in point. Here are a few more examples of individuals, companies and trade practices that need to be continually called out for dubious if not deceptive portrayal of professional code regulated Interior Design services and/or interior decoration presented as Interior Design.  Again I appreciate the fact that companies and people need to earn a living but to claim you are doing something you are not is unacceptable and compromises my ability to gain respect for my skills and for accredited Interior Design students to justify their significant tuition investment.

Ethan Allen’s “Free Design Services”   Our design knowledge should not be free.  Don’t even get me started on trade only pricing practices.  Ethan Allen is free to run their business however they see fit.  However, we are also free to use their questionable ethics as an example of who we are not and what we refuse to do.

“Designer” Showhouses…they are decorator showhouses…period. Let’s start calling them what they are.

Kwikie design diploma or certificate courses promising successful careers as certified “Interior Designers”.  They aren’t and they don’t!  We have to have the collective fortitude to defend the term and title of interior design particularly when an on-line decorator certificate mill makes the following claim;

‘This online interior design course is a comprehensive program that will teach you everything you need to know to become a professional interior designer.’

Again it isn’t and it will not.  If nothing else we can help unsuspecting decorator wannabe’s understand that they are being mislead.  If we do not set their record straight, these decorator mills will simply continue to produce interior decorators who are empowered to misrepresent the profession of “Interior Design”.

Finally our professional membership organizations must do a better job of holding their professional members to the highest standards.  Again I fully respect a designer/decorator’s right to make a living and their freedom to self promote..but if you are going to sell pillows please understand that your message has broader implications for our effort to combat certain stereotypes.  I am sure this will tick a few folks off….I accept that…cue the criticisms.

We have to stop being concerned who we are upsetting….if they are clearly in the wrong then let’s diplomatically help them understand the errors of their ways.  We have to stop trying to be everything to everybody.  We have to accept being offensive so we can stop being defensive.

Or maybe…..just maybe I need to heed the advice of drag star and renown interior designer Ru Paul and stop taking this stuff so seriously;

AD: Would you say that drag influences your interior design sense?

RuPaul: Absolutely! Yes! Drag is all about reminding people to not take life too seriously. Our goal, our mission, is to say: This body you’re in is temporary. Have fun with it. Dress it up. Use all the colors in the rainbow. It’s there to enhance your experience. You are God, for lack of a better term, experiencing humanity. Have fun with it. Don’t hurt anybody else. Don’t take it too seriously.

(image: By jjron (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons )

 

 

HOW DO WE REMOVE INTERIOR DESIGN FROM THE DEREGULATION HIT LIST?

Deregulation is the current trend in State Houses across the nation.  There are many arguments for and against this effort.  I am not here to argue the merits of government regulation or the deregulation thereof.  Full disclosure- I support a common sense approach to government regulations and yes some regulation is clearly unnecessary but my specific bone to pick is…….

Why does the regulation of Interior Design continue to be equated with other questionable licensed/regulated occupations and professions?

In case you are unsure what my problem (among many) is let’s look at Florida House Bill #7047 which began working its way through the approval process in Tallahassee this spring.  This broad brush anti-regulation bill lumps the practice of state registered Interior Design with hair & body wrappers, auctioneers, and boxing timekeepers among other “why the heck do you need a license to do that?” laws.

To wit;

HB 7047: Deregulation of Professions and Occupations

GENERAL BILL by Careers and Competition Subcommittee ; Beshears

Deregulation of Professions and Occupations; Removes regulations on specified DBPR professions, including labor organizations, auctioneers & auction businesses, talent agencies, hair braiders, hair wrappers & body wrappers, interior designers, & boxing timekeepers & announcers;

 

Licensed boxing announcers?  Really? Hair braiders…………Whaaaat?

If you have been following how the profession of Interior Design has been attempting to advance itself by pursuing title and practice legislation for the past 45+/- years you know that the current deregulation effort in Florida is not the first such effort to “free up the market” by singling out those occupations, the regulation of which, might just be prime examples of government over-reach.

But licensed body wrappers?  Really? I don’t even know what that is…..

Licensed yacht brokers…..seriously?  If you are rich enough to afford a yacht you are rich enough to hire an attorney….that is if you are not already one.  I digress.

Again this is not the first time ID has been used as a prime example of government regulation run amok.  In fact I would say that the Institute for Justice has made regulated Interior Design the poster child for government regulation as an impediment to their free market/free trade ideals.

CASE IN POINT (posted 4/26/17- how timely) https://spectator.org/patent-trolls-dont-care-about-the-law/ 

This is not to say that the profession has not attempted to counter the anti-regulationist campaign to slander our profession.  There have been numerous attempts by the Interior Design academy to correct the record, most notably Caren Martin’s tit for tat debates with the Institute for Justice and our professional membership organizations have also stepped up their advocacy efforts on behalf of the profession.  IIDA recently addressed the issue of deregulation here and I know that ASID is investing numerous resources to extinguish deregulation fires across the nation, not to mention assisting newly introduced bills aiming to codify the practice of Interior Design.

But on goes the campaign to malign and deregulate Interior Design -apparently unabated.

Before I continue with my rant it is important to note that on the positive news front, as of April 20th, and due to a great amount of lobbying and education on the part of a lot of dedicated advocates for the profession of Interior Design in Florida, Interior Design has been removed from the list of targeted occupations to be summarily deregulated….for now ( http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/7047/ByVersion)

So what is my gripe?………Did you read the heading to the original bill above?

WHY THE HELL CAN’T WE MUSTER ENOUGH SOCIETAL RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING TO AVOID THE CONTINUAL STEREOTYPICAL CATEGORIZATION OF THE PROFESSION OF CODE REGULATED INTERIOR DESIGN AS AN “OCCUPATION” NOT WORTHY OF GOVERNMENT REGULATION?

Now if you are still here….you may be saying “give it time-interior design is a young profession” or “we need to help educate our friends, relatives, and clients as to the true value we can bring to the table”.  Come on!  We have been a legitimate profession for about 40 years. We improve the lives and livelihoods of people everyday.  Our work has significant impact on the health, safety and welfare of the public 24/7/365…..ask any Architect who has signed and sealed our drawings for permit.

So I think the above question is legitimate.  I do hope you ask it with a bit more discretion but you need to ask it….ask the leaders of your professional organizations, ask your teachers, ask your mothers….after all she should know right?

P.S. EDIT 4/27:  I am going to answer my own question here;

http://www.delaware1059.com/lifestyles/entertainment/caitlyn-jenner-praises-kris-jenner-s-eye-for-interior-design/article_f82e7220-9a1b-51a3-8e34-d2b059cf0771.html

…….her eye for interior design….her eye…for interior design………..Good grief.

Well heck if all it takes is an eye…then no wonder we cannot convince policy makers we are serious about being granted a license to practice interior design……do you see where I am going with this?

P.P.S. EDIT 4/28: Warmed my heart to see this ray of hope…an Interior Designer takes lead on a major historic adaptive reuse project…

http://www.fox4news.com/news/248120334-story

If only we, the profession of regulated Interior Design, could get this kind of exposure everyday on every channel….maybe….just maybe…we could overcome our identity crisis….some call me a dreamer.

P.P.P.S. EDIT 4/28: Just when I thought things were looking up for the perception of “Interior Design” we get relegated to “on call shopper status”…… 

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/sponsor-content/bdc-designer-on-call-service-offers-personal-shopping-interior-design-help/

the brief moment of hope was nice….back to my regularly scheduled program of disrespect and typecasting.

CALL TODAY- DESIGN TOMORROW

Had I known it was that easy to become an Interior Designer I would not have wasted all of that time learning how to become one…………………

http://www.theacademyofinteriordesign.com/default.asp

Food…Er..Um..Drink for Thought

image

Now that things have calmed down in my day job I have a bit of time to ponder.  So it is timely that this little ditty came across my screen and got me to thinking.  Listen to this first;

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/506319408/506401504

Can you see where this is going?……That’s right I am going to milk this story for all it’s worth.  Okay had to work that in there.

“What is your point PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER?”  You ask.

In case you avoided my previous 300+ posts I will give you a hint.  The profession of Interior Design, like the Soy and Almond juice producers who espouse the term “milk” to market their products, are increasingly adopting the title “Architecture”, as in “Interior Architecture”, to describe and market their work.

While “Milk” and “Architecture” differ in may ways…okay there is little comparison (dairy cows could care less, Architects on the other hand care greatly) I maintain that the issue of titles, labels, terms, lexicology and the general semantics of how the profession of Interior Design defines, presents and labels itself is our most important challenge as a profession.

And that folks is no bull.

image= https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ndsuag/Dairy-cows-pict-1.jpg/

HOW DO YOU BECOME AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?

Seems straightforward enough.  I can imagine lots of high school students or 2nd career seekers asking this question.

Of course there are lots of legitimate resources available to those who are curious, books (those things in “libraries” and “book stores”), guidance counselors, friends of friends, etc. But PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is fairly certain that the world wide intrawebanet is your #1 go-to resource for this query.

So if you Google that question you will be bombarded with 3.6 million options. HOW THE HELL CAN THERE BE 3 MILLION WAYS TO BECOME AN “INTERIOR DESIGNER”?  I digress.

For reference the general query “How do you become an Architect” results in 15+ million hits…but who’s counting?

Visiting and reading all of those sites just overwhelmed me. I made it through 2.2 million but had to take a bathroom break.  So being the hardcore scholarly researcher that I am I went to YouTube to watch a video on how to become an Interior Designer.   Let’s face it, that is most likely how all prospective Interior Designers seek out answers to this question. So my next level of investigation was to see which videos had the most hits.  Because is that not the true test of a video’s legitimacy?  Sorting by viewer count this is the winner with 176,811 views in just under 4 years;

Just to break it down that is nearly 44,000 views per each of 4 years this video has been online.  Kudos to Ms. Robeson.  If you care about such things she has created quite a on-line presence with her decorating posing as design DIY videos.  My point here is not to impugn Ms. Robeson.  Her entrepenuerial skills are quite admirable.

It is clear that Ms. Robeson caters to the innately qualified who wish to claim the title ‘Interior Designer” without consideration for such pesky things like….oh…an education, or an apprenticeship, earning credentials via an examination (of any type) or committing to ethical practice by membership in any one of our many professional organizations.  But that is her right.  She can do that and she does it well.  But 44,000 views per year?  Back to my point.

For those of us who claim the title “Interior Designer” by earning a degree, working as an apprentice, studying our butts off for any number of professional competency examinations and paying copious amounts of dues monies to our professional organizations I wonder how our effort to define that path to the title “Interior Designer” compares.  How do our “How To” videos rate on the viewership scale?  After all do we not want our pathway to status as an “Interior Designer” to be equally recognized?

That is somewhat of rhetorical question because the domain of “Interior Designer” is so broad-much to our chagrin.  Just because we say it is one thing, that does not mean that the public perception of “Interior Design” matches our particular definition http://www.ncidqexam.org/about-interior-design/definition-of-interior-design/.  Try as we might to make “Interior Design” match the above definition PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER maintains (see previous 300+ posts) that we have lost that battle.  But let’s not get too off topic here.  The focus here is how those who seek a career in Interior Design actually find their way through the labyrinth of potential pathways.

So if go to YouTube and type in “How do I become  an Interior Designer?” you will note that not one video represents what we professional interior designers might consider legitimate or professional.  Most are independent DIY’s or for profit schills..ooops sorry I meant “schools”, all trying to persuade the inquisitive to their website.  Actually one of the most informative and relevant videos that tries to answer the basic query was created by an Interior Design student;

Kudos to Ms. Paterson.  She has 26,000 + hits in one year.  Wow.

Makes me wonder why, with all of our resources, that the profession as represented by  ASID, IIDA, IDEC, CIDA, NCIDQ, IDC, CCIDC, IDEX, cannot create a video resource that will help direct the inquisitive down the path to professional status as a “Interior Designer?”.

You know one that matches the Interior Design we proclaim to practice.

Maybe we could pool our marketing budgets and hire Ms. Paterson.

P.S. 8/5/16- Hmmmm.  Here is an answer from Ireland for what it’s worth;  http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/how-to-become-an-interior-designer-1.2745009

P.S. 11/18/16 Here is how to do it in 4 SIMPLE STEPS….http://careerswiki.com/how-to-become-an-interior-designer/#prettyPhoto 

P.S. 11/30/16 Can’t argue with these tips…http://freshome.com/2014/10/13/10-things-you-should-know-about-becoming-an-interior-designer/

ID REGULATION: WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT?

I appreciate Robert Nieminen’s support of the ongoing effort to regulate the profession of Interior Design . I agree with all of his points regarding the unification of the profession and the efforts by the anti-regulation contingent to stop any and all ID legislation.  As far as Utah’s new ID practice law we can claim it as a battle won but I am concerned by his broad brush definition of “Interior Design Laws of North America” as represented by this map (source unknown-attribute to Interiors & Sources) Sorry the resolution is limited.

I_0316_robblog2

(Attributed to Interiors & Sources?)

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER would like to see such graphic depictions of our efforts to regulate the profession truly represent those laws that allow qualified Interior Designers to practice to the fullest extent of their abilities.  That includes the ability to sign and seal documents to legally obtain building permits as necessary to fully own one’s design work.  While it looks more impressive to apply a color to all states with some form of Interior Design law or act in place, when you actually consider our right to work as peers with or independent of other licensed design professionals in each of these states the battle field is far less impressive.  And let’s not forget our allies in Canada who have their own similar battles.

LegislativeMap

Color in Utah green-yeah! But read the Utah bill and consider that it does sanction the title “Commercial Interior Design” and the ID scope is limited. A victory none the less.

We have to stop depicting any and all ID legislation as legislation that is good for the entire profession (it isn’t) one, and two, we have stop looking at ID Regulation as nothing but a means to distinguish us from the unqualified decorator wannabe’s. That is a battle that was lost years ago.  Sure it makes us feel good to see all of those states colored in….but is it a true assessment of the battle?

So if we are going to look at this as a “war” we need to be working from the same battlefield map with a cohesive strategy to win our right to work at a minimum.  Otherwise what is the point?

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE vs. INTERIOR DESIGN

BREAKING NEWS…THIS JUST IN: TAKE THIS SURVEY….PLEEEEAAASE!

https://www.esurveycreator.com/s/interior_architecture

OR- What’s in a Name Redux Part 3 (Rev. 2) Release 3.2.

So it’s been awhile since PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER posted. I have been busy making toothpicks out of logs. But honestly not much has been happening on the Interior Design identity and regulation front lately.  That is until a couple of things scrolled across my Google Glass recently that prompted me to take pencil to paper…er mouse to pad…

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My alma matter Florida State University has decided to change the title of its Interior Design Program to the Department of Interior Architecture & Design   Not earth shattering news but this was after a recent title tweak by the Interior Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to the Interior Architecture Undergraduate Program  -dropping the term “Design” altogether.  These are two highly regarded INTERIOR DESIGN programs. This of course is in addition to numerous other interior design programs that have already adopted the title “Interior Architecture”.  I am certain there are more waiting to jump from the Interior Design bandwagon.  This, as you know, is not a new phenomenon in academia.  Interior Architecture degree programs have existed since the 1960’s in the U.S. and earlier in Europe. I am not ready to call these recent Interior Design conversions a trend…let’s just say it’s a thing.  A thing we need to be aware of.

Full disclosure I have not spoken to anyone in either of the above programs regarding their title shift. But I have plenty of opinions on the reasoning behind and of course the implications thereof.

Okay so why the worry PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER?  “Afraid you might have to change your domain name or something?”   

Good question.  I was not even going to make a point of this department title “thing” until my Google Eyes filled with this missive by Dak Kopec, respected educator and co-editor of The Routledge Companion for Architecture Design and Practice, regarding what he see’s as a trend in the field of Architecture;

“What are some current trends in the field?

Some of the current trends include Interior Design moving closer and integrating with Architecture to form the program nomenclature of Interior Architecture, and we have already seen the integration of landscaping to form the specialization of Landscape Architecture. While Landscape Architecture has already folded itself into the larger discipline of Architecture, Interior Architecture is only at the first evolutionary stages. Today, Interior Architecture continues to be a separate disciple with a separate professional accreditation body, however the use of the word “architecture” to general populace means that Interior Architecture is a branch of the greater foundational profession of Architecture. The current trajectory thus indicates that Interior Architecture will eventually become folded into the greater field and discipline of Architecture.” https://www.routledge.com/architecture/posts/9277?utm_source=shared_link&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=SBU3_mbs_3rf_8sl_1arh_ain16_stan16_X_X 

To be clear…Dr. Kopec’s assessment of Interior Design as we know it is simply not his opinion posted on some fly by night blog that nobody cares to read except the author. He is a vetted, published and widely disseminated author.  His opinion on this topic is not unique and it represents a major school of thought.

So there you have the recent trifecta of actual and perceived semantic shifts that I believe have MAJOR implications for the title and the act of “Interior Design” on the academic and professional levels.

So my point here folks is there are many of us who believe that the term/title “Interior Design” no longer applies.  It is a liability.  It fails to describe us.  Okay I do not disagree.  But if we are going to keep our collective head in the proverbial professional sand while this title shift occurs organically, or by happenstance, we may be surprised by what we see when we do pull our heads out.

Makes it a bit of challenge to demand the public’s respect if we do not know what to call ourselves.

My final plea is this; if we are going to go there (IA) we better know where there is.  Based on my POV…we don’t have a clue.

Now excuse me while I see if the domain name PROFESSIONALINTERIORARCHITECT.com is taken.

Rev. 2/18/2016    And then there is this…………

“Yet, I would suggest that fashion shares a common malaise with interior design, one that is at once borne out of shame, and an ethos that takes queers for granted given their purported ubiquity. The effects of the stereotype of the gay decorator are still tangible in a profession so burdened by shaming that not only is “interior designer” often preferred over “decorator” but the more “manly,” and by association straight, designation of “interior architect” is advocated by students and professionals alike, both gay and straight. How might we explain such a panic beyond the contemporary moment? In both the extant scholarship and popular culture to date, the “gay decorator” has been both omnipresent and yet oddly invisible, becoming the spectre that haunts the profession.”

Potvin, J. (2016), The Pink Elephant in the Room: What Ever Happened to Queer Theory in the Study of Interior Design 25 Years on?. Journal of Interior Design. doi:10.1111/joid.12068

Me thinks Mr. Potvin hit the ole nail on the head.  We are running away from ourselves.