Tag: interior design regulation

The Interior Design Profession-10 Years Gone.

Belated happy 2020……hopefully your vision matches the new year….or is that hindsight?  Well hopefully your vision and your hindsight are 20/20.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER woke up this morning feeling a bit melancholy and nostalgic ….getting older has a way of doing that to one’s psyche.  Assuming you do not wake up dead, which is a great way to start your day, one begins to question their purpose and meaning and whether their life has left a positive legacy, or any sort of legacy for that matter.  What does it all mean?  Why am I here?  Does anybody really care? Can I snooze the alarm one more time and still make that morning meeting?

Well what do you know this month represents my first full decade of blogging on the very narrow topic of professional code regulated interior design identity.  I do not have a track record of doing much of anything for as long as 10 years so this is a remarkable achievement ( yes this is gratuitous self gratification but it’s my blog).

Happy birthday PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER!  You do not look a post over 300.

lazeramazer

Because I firmly believe a little introspection is important for all of us to appreciate the continuum of our search for answers, and that a lot can change over the span of 10 years,  here is my first post from January of 2010 where my assessment….or rather opinion, of this much maligned and confused profession was broadcast to the world; https://wordpress.com/post/professionalinteriordesigner.com/11

I am actually surprised that my position on the title “Interior Design(er)” has not really changed;

“It is incumbant on the profession, as we have established it, to get it’s collective act together and figure out why and how we are going to correct our path to legitimacy. If we truly believe that we have a right to the term ‘interior design’ then we have a hell of a lot work ahead of us.”

Wouldn’t it be easier to consider another title?”

Carrying on with the theme we have to ask ourselves….okay I am probably the only one asking myself……………….

What has changed over the past 10 years?

I created this blog 10 years ago in the heat of the Institute for Justice campaign to eliminate the regulation of interior design in the State of Florida and eventually nationwide.  At the time, at least in my assessment, there were very few ways that concerned interior designers could inform themselves as to the issues at hand.  ASID and IIDA’s professional advocacy outreach were not not necessarily accessible or current.  To their credit both organizations have since stepped up their advocacy outreach greatly.  Back in 2010, and as an avowed independent designer, I felt it important to at least try to help broadcast the war on ID in Florida to those who cared about such things.   Prior to this blog the best I could do is glean news from the internet, popular media and, what was then, very active discussions on numerous LinkedIn Groups as well as the oppositions blog The Interior Design Protection Council (now defunct).  I also need to acknowledge the efforts by IDEC, CIDQ, and CIDA who expended copious amounts of time and volunteer effort to counter the IJ’s efforts in various venues. In particular I acknowledge Caren Martin whose name and scholarly counters to the IJ’s misinformation campaign, which I have cited throughout the early posts of this blog, should be required reading for any interior design student who wishes to practice at the highest levels of the profession.

FUN TIMES THOSE………

If my efforts resulted in anybody becoming more informed and engaged as to the dire situation our little profession found itself in then it was worth it.  Even if my efforts were for naught it made me feel better about the situation, well worth the cost of this blog.

So in February of 2010 Judge Robert Hinkle handed down his decision on the Locke V. Shore lawsuit in Florida.  See my post from that time here https://wordpress.com/post/professionalinteriordesigner.com/108

With that monumental precedent setting decision the term “Interior Design” and title “Interior Designer” became legally protected by the First Amendment.  In other words we lost the rights to claim the term and title as our own.  Anybody with a pulse can claim that they are an interior designer and that they perform interior design services. And they do….by the thousands.  Unfortunately that leaves those of us who practice in the code regulated realm of interior design in a bit of a quandary.  Are we interior designers with all of that label’s misunderstanding and confusion or are we something else?

In a nutshell the profession of code regulated/commercial interior design has spent the past decade trying to come to grips with this new reality as this blog highlights.

While there have been some wins in regard to our march to legitimacy and parity with other licensed design professionals I remain……..well let’s just say disappointed.

“Well it is a young profession and it is still discovering itself” you might counter.  Hmmm okay I keep hearing that defense thrown about….I have been hearing it for the past 40 years I have been aware of the profession of interior design.  And I know that it was bandied about for at least 30 more before I burst onto the scene.  Here’s a good question for you age conscious types…..Exactly how old does a profession need to be before it becomes legitimate?  Not a rhetorical question folks…..somebody?  Anybody?

So while arguments and excuses against creating a cogent title and a unified voice for the profession of code regulated interior design go on we continue to try to define and codify “interior design” to be what we want it to be. Those of us who do practice interior design within the code regulated realm, and wish to practice at the highest levels of the licensed building design professions, continue to suffer from the ongoing societal confusion brought about by this overly broad occupational label.  For more detail see my previous 10 years of laments on this blog.

At ground level there has been some effort to shift the focus of our identity crisis but whether it is a positive shift or not depends on which side of the label/title fence you sit.  At the professional level our two primary membership organizations continue to “represent” the profession of interior design. Although IIDA has made a strategic shift to be the “commercial” interior design organization.  Whether this is simply a semantic shift or fundamental change in how the profession of code regulated interior design presents itself to society remains to play out……maybe I can be more helpful on this shift in my It Was Twenty Years Ago Today retrospective…..look forward to that sometime in 2030.  Oh boy!

To their credit ASID and IIDA have seen fit to collaborate on legislative advocacy issues both at the grassroots level and at the law/policymaker level.  They continue to invest large sums of money and personnel capital in combating deregulation efforts and those few new legislative efforts that the profession can claim as wins over the past decade (Mississippi, Utah, and a few others).  I am happy to acknowledge their advocacy efforts.  They can also legitimately claim several wins on the deregulation front.  We can only hope that this evolving mutual experience creates an environment wherein the logic of creating one voice and face of the profession becomes obvious and unavoidable.  Let’s talk again in 10 more years.

Additionally, and very unfortunately, on the academic side of the issue many more interior design degree programs have adopted the title “interior architecture” into their program names, diplomas and recruitment messaging.  I see this as nothing but a collective vote of no confidence, by the academy, that “interior design” is a viable and unique identifier.  Another story.

So it really isn’t just me.

What’s my point and what have I accomplished here?

Now you may be wondering…….“Okay PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER what the hell have you accomplished in the past ten years of ranting and pontificating?”  Well I know one thing- I sure as hell am not getting rich off my sponsors here (I have none).  Unfortunately I do not have any evidence that this blog has had any impact on anything.  Over the past 10 years, and as of January 13, 2020, this site has had 97,564 views, 44,590 visitors and 1,504 followers, with much of that activity occurring during periods of contentious legal and regulatory efforts involving the interior design profession.  I suspect many of those views were misdirects but given I do not cross promote this blog, or pay for clicks, I am good with those numbers.  I could search the web for emerging designers, students, policymakers, and academics, who may have Googled this blog for inspiration, or a handy hotlink, but I doubt any of them would bother to cite this blog as a scholarly reference.  I get that.

Also in that time I have answered a few questions from folks looking for information on education and licensing.  But not enough to make me think that I am making an impact.  I have replied to numerous comments on my posts, both favorable and critical, and have enjoyed the banter.  But really has it made a difference?  I doubt it.

Where is this going?

With Ten Years Gone it appears that our march to legitimacy has evolved from defending our profession from the interior decorators claiming to be interior designers to defending our right to practice to our fullest capabilities within the architectural realm.  Our biggest hurdle for the next decade is convincing the American Institute of Architects that we have every right to own our little portion of the built environment and to practice as peers with, or independent of, them and other licensed building design professionals.

Instead of getting beaten up by interior decorators, the architects are now throwing hurdles in our march to legitimacy.  Seems to me this is a perfect opportunity for our professional membership organizations to decide if they want to help define and defend the code regulated interior design profession or continue to play both sides of that well designed and code compliant fence.  Many architects understand our value to society and their practice….unfortunately many of their peers, and in particular their professional organization, do not.  That is the real fight for us.

Certainly gives me something to complain about for the next 10 years or so.

After that all bets are off that we will even have a professional domain worth validating;

https://space10.com/project/digital-in-architecture/?utm_medium=website&utm_source=archdaily.com

There is a big disruption coming and if we are not prepared it will render us irrelevant regardless of how right I am or not.  I hope to be sitting on a beach (somewhere in Kansas I suspect) sipping my daily umbrella drink drenched in SPF 1,000 sunscreen.

Since I started this little bit of reminiscing it would be a waste of time if I failed to ask myself the most difficult question;

Was it worth it?

Well we’re still here aren’t we?

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Architect’s Analysis of Interior Design Legislation UPDATE

If you read my earlier post regarding Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer’s (WRID) effort to pursue permitting privileges via Wisconsin Senate Bill 303 https://wordpress.com/post/professionalinteriordesigner.com/7000 then you will be interested in the AIA’s latest missive regarding WRID’s legislation efforts as well as proposed legislation to implement Sunset Reviews of Wisconsin’s licensed occupations (Wisconsin Senate Bill 541);

https://www.aia.org/articles/6239136-occupational-licensing-sunrise-reports-and

First and foremost the above article posits a misleading summation of WRID’s objective from the get go.  To wit;

At the same time, legislation has been introduced to revise Wisconsin’s existing ”title” law governing the registration of interior designers and expand the scope of interior design practice to include architecture – 2019 Senate Bill 303.

TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR……Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer’s do not want to practice “architecture”.  This Trumpian stretch of reality,  should render Mr. Babcock’s argument presumptuous at best or suspicious at worst.

Previously I chose not to waste my time, or yours, by not offering a counter to the AIA’s position vis-a-vis the Wisconsin Chapter’s July 10, 2019 article.  But for those who care to consider more than one side to this issue here in red italics, is my tit for tat response to Mr. Babcock’s opinion piece.

Does the unregulated practice of interior design clearly harm or endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public and is the potential harm recognizable and not remote or speculative?

BABCOCK: The proponents of the interior design legislation have not identified any instances of harm to public health, safety or welfare caused by the unregulated practice of interior design in Wisconsin. The “sunrise” reviews of interior design proposals in Colorado and Washington failed to uncover clear evidence that the unregulated practice of interior design harms the public.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: First let’s address “unregulated” interior design.  Unregulated interior design can in fact be practiced by anyone with a pulse.  Much like unregulated “architecture” that is practiced on a daily basis by all sorts of unlicensed folks (builders, developers, contractors, etc) typically under the guise of non-permitted residential work or other licensed building professionals.  Now if you want to change your original query to;

“Does the code regulated practice of interior design clearly harm or endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public and is the potential harm recognizable and not remote or speculative?”

See… the answer changes dramatically simply by adding the prefix “un” to “regulated”.  While it is true that only seven states have codified the practice of “interior design” allowing licensed/state registered interior  designers to legally practice in code regulated interior design environments there is no question that the interior designers in these states deal with numerous health, safety and welfare concerns on a daily basis.  I am not about to cite all of the slip and fall and hazardous/flammable material litigation that is clearly in the purview of the interior designer but suffice it to say that the International Building Code dedicates  several chapters ( 8, 11, & much of chapter 12) to what is commonly the work of a qualified code regulated interior designer…..many of whom work dilligently within AIA member’s firms contributing to the success and bottom line of those firms.  Why is that?

Can the public be reasonably expected to benefit from requiring interior designers to be licensed?

BABCOCK: Proponents of expanding the scope of interior design practice offer an unsubstantiated economic rationale that it could reduce the cost of certain projects by eliminating the need for an architect or professional engineer. However, the purpose of long-standing state requirements that an architect or professional engineer be involved in projects of this scope and size is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. The “sunrise” reviews of interior design proposals in other states have concluded that state licensing is not necessary because the public can reasonably expect that an interior designer is a competent practitioner through certification, testing and experience requirements established by related professional associations.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: FACT- When an interior designer is hired by a building owner to perform interior design services, either directly, or vis-a-vis a design firm , within a jurisdiction where local codes require a registered design professional to sign and seal construction drawings in order to obtain a building permit, those interior designers must seek the services of a Registered Architect. This occurs regardless if the interior designer performed 100% of the design work and personally confirmed acceptance with local building codes.  This is a cost burden for the owner since there seems to be a legal lock on that market limiting building owners options for regulated interior scope services.  Happens day in and day out and the AIA knows it.  Unfortunately the interior designer, who may actually be more qualified to perform those interior design services, than said registered architect, must surrender the ownership of their design and somehow account for the cost of duplicated effort to obtain a building permit.  The added cost and the infringement on qualified interior designers to own their own scope of work and provide options for building owners is very real.  

This little slice of permit monopoly is what Mr. Babcock is arguing for.

Taking Mr. Babcock’s logic here to its fullest extent, and as he alluded, architects should also be subject to sunset scrutiny as the vast majority of code regulated building design, as far as ultimate responsibility for the safety of the users/public is concerned, is performed by licensed structural and M/E/P engineers and not said architects.  Why should states shoulder this duplication of HS&W responsibility and administrative cost?

What is the least restrictive regulation of interior designers that would effectively protect the public?

BABCOCK: In Wisconsin, anyone can offer to provide interior design services. Wisconsin’s “title” registration law only regulates who can use the specific title “Wisconsin registered interior designer.” Title protection laws represent one of the least restrictive levels of state regulation. With no evidence to the contrary, the existing state regulations for interior designers effectively protect the public. The proposed interior design legislation is not necessary. In fact, a legislative report on state occupational licensing submitted by DSPS in December 2018 recommended that Wisconsin eliminate the existing title registration for interior designers because it one of the “most burdensome licensing requirements of all occupations.”

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: Again the semantics here are important….yes anyone can provide interior design services.  But the second those interior design services fall within the realm of code regulated design services the laws obviously change.  This is where the WRID designation factors in.  WRID’s have proven themselves via education/experience/examination to be competent to practice code regulated interior design.  The current title law ensures that those who claim such competency are in fact registered with the state.  The current effort to add permitting privileges to the WRID title act is simply an effort to expand consumer options and their right to work to the fullest of their knowledge and abilities…much to the AIA’s chagrin.

What are the licensing requirements for interior designers in other states?

BABCOCK: Wisconsin is one of 19 states with voluntary title registration for interior designers without permitting authority. In addition, 21 other states do not regulate interior design at all. The 40 states with either title registration or no regulation for interior designers include our neighboring states of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. The recent DSPS state occupational licensing study noted that only four states regulate the practice of interior design.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: Well given the AIA’s formidable resistance to qualified interior designer’s right to own their work and provide a competitive cost environment for building owners we cannot claim nationwide licensure.  Suffice it to say that our little profession is working on that and Wisconsin SB 303 is just one example.  Hence the AIA’s interest in misinforming around the real reason for their concern.  Their long standing legal control over the code regulated built environment has suffered from the chipping away of their dominion by specialist trades and professionals who do in fact offer building owners safe and cost effective options.  Certified/Registered code regulated interior designers are next in line.

Conclusion

BABCOCK: The interior design proposal does not meet the criteria for state occupational licensing established in the “sunrise” legislation. It is unnecessary because it fails to increase consumer protection or enhance public health, safety and welfare. There is a straightforward alternative that would not involve any statutory or administrative rule changes. In Wisconsin, if interior designers want to practice architecture, they can apply for an architect license by using their qualifying interior design education and work experience and passing the required Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER: Once again Mr. Babcock we do not want to practice architecture.  We simply want to practice to the fullest of our trained and vetted professional potential.  Taking your conclusion to its fullest extent should we say that licensed building contractors, you know the ones who actually build your visions, and assume liability thereof, should also be required to take the ARE?  I think you know the answer but certainly would not admit it.

Make no mistake about Mr. Babcock’s article, this is not really about public safety and which profession is best suited to master that domain in our best interest.  No it is simply a way for the AIA’s small firm members to protect their small petty piece of professional services turf.

In conclusion (mine) I urge all certified interior designers, who work within Architecture firms, to open a dialogue with their peer RA’s to consider just how petty and protectionist the AIA’s position on denouncing qualified interior designer’s right to work efforts.  In the end a licensed interior designer can only enhance the professional collaborations that both professions, and the public, can benefit from.

There is enough work out there for both of us.

 

If This Is Interior Design………….

and she is an “interior designer”…… then why would I want to be a “certified” version of this?

https://www.ktnv.com/morningblend/dwg-home-decor-11-22-19

Once again if we, the code regulated commercial interior designers of America, wish to establish a public image that demands understanding and respect we need to do one of two things;

  1. Establish a public messaging campaign that will overcome decades of confusion and misunderstanding of  interior design and the interior designer’s role in the design of the code regulated built environment.   OR
  2. Leave “interior design” to the innately qualified by creating our own unique professional identity* that distinguishes us from “interior designers” by default.

If anybody has a better idea please come forward.

*See Interior Architecture.

P.S. If you think the above popular media piece in the nation’s 39th largest T.V. market  is a rare one-off segment you are wrong.  It is by far the most common public face of “interior design”.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.

 

 

 

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?

 

 

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Architect’s Analysis of Interior Design Legislation

Or In Other Words; What Interior Designers Are Really Qualified To Do According To The AIA.

In response to Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer’s (WRID) effort to pursue expanded practice rights with permitting privileges via Wisconsin Senate Bill 303 , the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects felt it necessary to inform the public just what it is we do, or what we are not supposed to do, by launching this missive to the internet;

https://www.aia.org/articles/6173635-analysis-of-interior-design-legislation

Should I analyze their analysis?…….Hmmmmm……..No I have to attend to more important things like helping my interior design students understand that they are unable to practice their chosen profession to the fullest extent of their knowledge and expertise simply because the AIA continues to perpetuate this antiquated, erroneous, and totally unimportant protectionist good ole boy political territorial pissing match.

Can you tell how I feel about this?

NOTE TO THE AIA.  We do not want your jobs! But we do want to do ours.

Good grief don’t you have better things to do with your dues monies?

That is not a rhetorical question.  Other than telling us how we are unqualified to do our jobs, you know the ones you GUYS rely on daily to satisfy your clients and make money based on our knowledge and expertise, I have yet to see a reasonable argument that does not reek of protectionism and even sexism.  Yes I just said that.

Anybody care to answer?

It seems that the profession of code regulated interior design has learned to avoid the pitfalls of pitching interior design legislation that infringes on the rights of those who simply decorate.  Now we have to work on our Registered Architect allies, AIA dues paying members or not, to convince them that a regulated and licensed interior design profession is ultimately best for them, the code regulated interior design profession, and our paying clients….you know the ones that put dinner on your Florence Knoll dining tables.

So keeping on with the musical analogies here is a song that I think best fits the AIA’s stance on our efforts to become licensed peers;

Self-Regulation is the Answer

Umm…Okay…But what is the question? Cue the broken record-

Those of us who reside and practice within the code regulated building design realm must have the courage to recognize that much of what we call “Interior Design”, and those that practice it, does not need to be regulated.  In fact there are many who do not want to be licensed even if we could muster the collective effort to achieve it. They are just fine working in mostly non-regulated residential environments.  Call them what you will but the law says that they are interior designers regardless of their background, education, training, or talent.  I respect that.

At the other end of the interior design spectrum there is a small contingent of interior designers that want to be recognized as licensed building design professionals so that they can practice as peers with, or independent of other licensed building design professionals.  We want to be licensed.   We are also interior designers.  Therein lies the problem.

Essentially we are fighting with ourselves.  Interior design is just too wide ranging for such a small segment to demand and be granted government oversight.

So the question du jour…..How do we regulate a profession that is simply too broad to merit regulation?

We self-regulate privately first….as something other than interior designers. Then when we earn the public’s trust and respect then, and only then, can we can successfully pursue government, or public, regulation.

I know this flies in the face of 50+ years of interior designers trying to distinguish themselves from interior designers. But if you read that sentence- then you understand the dilemma.

Yes it may mean going backwards a bit.  But I am convinced that if we do it right we can then come out in the future and take the profession several leaps forward.  Yes it will take time.  Got any other ideas?  No really I am open to suggestion……

IT’S THE MESSAGE PEOPLE!

beach bottle cold daylight
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Now that we have beaten back another effort to deregulate the profession of code regulated interior design, this time in Florida, again (see previous post), it is time to ask ourselves the proverbial question….

“WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING?”

My short answer is that interior designers do not deserve to be regulated…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….(pause for effect)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“BLASPHEME!”– you say.  Let me explain.

Unfortunately for us, the public perception of interior design is far different than the reality of code-regulated or commercial interior design.  So when we stand before a lawmaker or policy maker and we ask them to consider creating a law that regulates the practice of “interior design”, or we are forced to defend existing interior design laws from deregulation efforts, our message is less than cogent and convincing.  There is, unfortunately, a wide gap in perception between the message bearer and the receiver.  We often use helpful descriptors such as “we are ‘commercial’ interior designers”, or “we are ‘certified’ interior designers”, etc. to close that cognitive gap and to interject some distinction.  After all the lawmakers we are speaking to simply represent the general public and we all know what the general public thinks about interior design and interior designers.

So most policy and law-makers, when confronted with the issue of licensing interior design are left to ponder “why should we regulate a profession that has no impact on the health, safety or well-being of the public”?  While we (the code regulated) all know the truth and reality of our social obligations toward public safety and welfare we have not been able to frame and promote that important distinction in the realm of interior design.

My mission (nay obsession) has always been to compel those educated, apprenticed, and NCIDQ certifed code regulated interior designers to rethink their message.  This “message” includes what we call ourselves, how we define ourselves, how we promote our value to society, and ultimately how we parlay that message into serious consideration as peers with our allied licensed building design professions.

I am well aware that the profession hangs it’s hat on the official definition of “interior design”  which clearly describes, in great detail, a vision of “interior design” that we all wish was commonly understood.  Many of my peers maintain that with time, persistence and patience we can realize a paradigmatic shift in the public perception of our true value to society by promoting our version of interior design.  On the other hand many of my peers have acknowledged their doubt in our ability to define our way out of this identity conflict by adopting “interior architect” as their go to title.

Frankly I do not blame them.  While many see this as simply a way to engender a modicum of respect it is hard for me to see this title transgression as nothing but a vote of no confidence in “Interior Design”.

When will we ask our collective selves……“Why do we feel obligated to defend our domain from those who do not fit squarely into our vision?”   When will we stop trying to convince the public what we are not decorators as explained in the ever present “difference” argument?

The Professional Difference Between”Interior Designer” and “Interior Decorator”

 

Many people use the terms “interior design” and “interior decorating” interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways.  Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. 

Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things.

In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants’ quality of life and culture.  Designs respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project.  Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.  The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology — including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process — to satisfy the client’s needs and resources. 

U.S. states and Canadian provinces have passed laws requiring interior designers to be licensed or registered and to document their formal education and training.  Many states and provinces also specifically require all practicing interior designers to earn the NCIDQ Certification to demonstrate their experience and qualifications.   By contrast, interior decorators require no formal training or licensure. 

https://www.cidq.org/find-ncidq-certified-int-designer

Those pesky interior decorators, who have every right to call themselves “interior designers”, simply will not cease confusing our public image.   Hence the ongoing battle for the title of “interior designer” and its incumbent, albeit intangible, professional identity and societal respect.   

And for those emerging interior design professionals who think this identity crisis is simply the result of us being a young, still emerging  profession, I offer this proclamation from the late great interior design progenitor Florence Knoll;

                 “I Am Not A Decorator!                   

Sound familiar?  This is essentially, albeit using other descriptors, what our policy makers and family members hear when we stand before them to defend “interior design”.

So you are thinking Ms. Knoll said that in her later years…..say 2014? No.

Given her lengthy career maybe she uttered those words say in…..1994? No.

1984?  No.

1974?  Well okay you are getting warm.

Try 1964.   Think about that dear readers…..both of you.  Since Ms. Knoll uttered that defense we are now onto our 3rd generation of interior design professional.  Yet we face the same perceptual confusion and right to practice road blocks.  Yes it just keeps “HAPPENING”.

So as you can see this has been going on awhile.  Have I made my point….again (see previous 350 posts on the subject)?

When will we recognize that we do not own “interior design” and we cannot define, or legislate, our way to respect?

When will we realize that we have to change the message in order to shift the paradigm?

Unfortunately PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is an outlier.  I accept that.  I will never be asked to sit at the grown-ups table while they continue to ignore the 800 pound pink tutu wearing gorilla sitting in the corner of the profession.  What keeps me going is the hope that in 55+ years some poor interior design academic or professional will be neural blogging the same message via BCI telepathy…..

…..And did you know that PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER proclaimed on his old school internet blog;

“I AM NOT A DECORATOR”

And do you know when that was? 

2039?  No.   

2029?…….No.

Carry on.