Tag: Michigan Interior Design Legislation

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.

POSITIVE PRESS AND THE REGULATED INTERIOR DESIGN MESSAGE

It is rare when PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER comes across a mainstream press article that actually discusses professional Interior Design as we know it.  95% is simply innately talented interior decorators posing as qualified interior designer pabulum.  4% are articles targeting Interior Design regulations as a prime example of government over-reach and the remaining 1% is simply too bizarre to categorize (e.g. http://www.realtytoday.com/articles/33386/20150908/celebrity-real-estate-adolf-hitler-home-interior-design-media-fluff.htm )

So when I came across this article from the Grand Rapids Business Journal I was surprised to say the least.    http://www.grbj.com/articles/83223-states-design-industry-struggles-with-lack-of-certification.  Granted the GRBJ is not the New York Times but at this point a positive and accurate article in any Business Journal is a positive P.R. moment.  I was so excited I almost posted it to the many online forums PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER frequents (well okay only two) before I finished reading it.  And then I checked myself.

While the intent of Mr. Nichols article, that of the importance of the NCIDQ exam to the profession and how difficult it really is, is admirable, I noted two glaring misunderstandings included in the dialogue between Nichols and his subject Ms. Autumn Fuchs.  I am willing to consider that  there was some misinterpretation on the reporter/journalist’s part as well- that happens.

Let me be clear here….I admire Ms. Fuchs and her perseverance in taking and passing the exam (cue cheering crowd).  Ultimately this little bit of P.R. is a ray of positivity in our effort to convey our message.  But I would like to illuminate two subtle misunderstandings, per Ms. Fuchs, that perpetuate some very important political/legal nuances that we as a profession must wrap our collective brains around if we are to realize any real progress in our effort to advance the profession on the legislative front.  Bear with me -this gets real fussy;

  • “In some ways it’s a bad thing (that Michigan doesn’t require it) because anyone can call themselves an interior designer. If you wanted, tomorrow you could wake up and make a business card and just say, ‘I’m an interior designer,’”

Unfortunately the courts (in the U.S. at least) have ruled that anybody can in fact claim that they are an interior designer whether they are qualified or not, whether they have an education or not, whether they have taken and passed the NCIDQ or not, or whether they have a pulse or not.  Many interior designers are under the misunderstanding that one must pass the NCIDQ exam and/or become licensed in order to call themselves an “Interior Designer”.  This is untrue.  We cannot force people to surrender their use of the term ‘Interior Design” or the title “Interior Designer”.

  • “I know there’s a lot of talented interior designers that have not passed the exam, so it’s hard for me to say they should be required because then they wouldn’t be able to practice. But I do think there’s a lot to be said for a designer to take the initiative to take the exam when it’s not required,” she said. “To me, it’s not important that it’s required or not. Taking it for myself is what’s important.”

So parsing out this statement there are a lot of simple truths included….”there’s a lot of talented interior designers that have not passed the exam”  and ….there’s a lot to be said for a designer to take the initiative to take the exam when it’s not required,” and “Taking it for myself is what’s important.”  But……………again Ms. Fuchs seems to view the exam as a legal tool to force interior designers to take and pass it in order for them to claim themselves to be “Interior Designers” …….”it’s hard for me to say they should be required because then they wouldn’t be able to practice.” 

That is simply not true.  In the U.S. we cannot force anybody to take the exam (except in Louisiana and D.C.- another story).  This misunderstanding may be a function of Ms. Fuchs also listening to the anti-ID regulationists and their effort to deregulate the ID profession (another other story).

Now if we can just get all Interior Designer who understand the value of the NCIDQ exam and its role in their own professional identity, such as Ms. Fuchs, to also understand the legal issues with the exam and its concomitant  legal/political role in our collective professional identity I would have nothing further to byte about…..well okay I probably could find a few other things….

Michigan’s Interior Design Title Act is Challenged

CORRECTION APRIL 16, 2013 THE MICHIGAN BILL PASSED THE HOUSE BUT WAS SENT TO COMMITTEE BY THE MICHIGAN SENATE- BASED ON MY LIMITED KNOWLEDGE OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS I BELIEVE THIS MEANS THE ISSUE IS DEAD FOR THIS SESSION. NONE THE LESS IT IS INDICATIVE OF THE EFFORT TO REPEAL AND DEREGULATE INTERIOR DESIGN NATIONWIDE. LESSON LEARNED?

You heard it here first folks.  Chalk one up in the ‘L’ column.

http://michiganvotes.org/Legislation.aspx?ID=156705

Not a good start to the 2013 legislative season.

P.S. Evidently Michigan’s ID legislation was simply a voluntary registry;

Interior Designers Regulation

Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

The State Occupational Code (PA 299 of 1980, as amended) does not restrict or regulate the practice of interior design. Listing as an interior designer is NOT to be considered a registration, certification or licensure by the State of Michigan. A person need not be listed to practice interior design. Listed interior designers may not practice architecture, professional engineering or professional surveying unless also licensed in the appropriate profession.

from ( http://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-35299_61343_35414_60647_40920-139767–,00.html )

Not like we lost a full practice act or enforceable title act…..but then it is a step backwards IMO. 

And here is more anti-regulation news from Texas;

“……And what, exactly, is the public danger of an interior or landscape design gone wrong?”

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/once-government-gets-involved-professions-are-diff/nW25f/

Ahh yes one step forward several leaps backward.

MORE ON THE DEREGULATION OF INTERIOR DESIGN IN MICHIGAN

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2013-2014/billanalysis/House/pdf/2013-HLA-4374-C303BC8F.pdf

Those pesky deregulationists sure have been busy.

Michigan Introduces Bill to Repeal Interior Design Registration

Funny- Interior Design is the only occupation/profession stricken from this bill;

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%284o5v5rftbhdxht5505uuxt45%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=BillStatus&objectname=2013-HB-4378

Something smells fishy in the Mitten State.  I hope the Michigan Interior Design Coalition can address this before it goes any further.