Tag: NCIDQ

ADVANCING THE PROFESSION OF INTERIOR DESIGN- STEP TWO

STEP #2

The profession must better define itself and promote that message to the public

Of course this step assumes that the profession collectively agrees with Step #1 .  Short of that the rest of this proposal is simply moot.  I am however, willing to risk my time and two remaining brain cells none the less. I have faith that someone, someday will smack their forehead and proclaim….“He was right…he wasn’t insane”

You will note that I did not say “the profession must rename itself……”  Hard as I have tried over the past decade+ I do not have a decisive suggestion as to a label that might solve our conflicted identity crisis.  I wish it were that simple.  Again let’s not forget the growing cohort of interior designers that have adopted the label “architect” as a means to pursue an identity unique from “interior design”.  This certainly is not a new phenomenon and I am not the only one to express concerns with this trend.  While I sympathize, I am sorry they feel this is their best option.

We need to create a profession that will compel these label refugees to re-embrace “design” as well as to coax those who hide under the regulatory cape of their architect partners/employers to see the light of an independent and valued profession.

Whether the redefinition process leads to a logical semantic shift remains to be seen. Regardless let’s proceed here with the mutual goal of redefining interior design to better address the differences between regulated interior design and the decoration of interiors that need not comply with any codes and standards. For purposes of this discussion we will refer to our new identity as regulated interior design (RID) vs. traditional interior design/decoration that occurs in the unregulated realm (ID).

Enough title talk for now.

With a nod of respect and appreciation to the numerous scholars and progenitors that have pushed the profession to this point I think we can all agree that the profession of code regulated interior design has evolved. Unfortunately, our public message, or our brand identity, has not.  And as I have whined innumerable times prior…we cannot legislate our way out of this identity crisis.  We owe it to the profession’s forefathers (and foremothers) to re-define our professional domain so that it better aligns with our real value to society  .  In other words we need to reconstruct our collective identity which, according to Stacey Wieland¹, “occurs through ongoing mundane interactions in addition to critical moments”.  I maintain that we are at that critical moment….but acknowledge this blog post is merely a mundane interaction.

It is important at this point to also acknowledge that we are not the first to find fault with the current social identity of the profession.  In fact many have shared this concern for decades. One group of influential interior designers came together in the 1980’s to invest copious amounts of time and energy to create an advanced certificate process that they believed would help better distinguish code regulated (AKA “Contract) designers from those with merely baseline qualifications.  In 1987 the Governing Board for Contract Interior Design Standards was formed.  This was not a half-baked response to our ongoing identity crisis (like this blog;-) and was supported at the highest levels of the code regulated side of the profession.  Unfortunately it was dissolved due to lack of  support/inertia in 1999.  This was certainly a critical moment for this group.  I will continue to refer to their effort as the GBCID.  Simply put, the GBCID used advanced certification as a means to provide a means to advance their status separate from interior designers. And although they were certified Contract Interior Designers, in the public’s eye they were still Interior Designers.  Had the public definition of “Contract Interior Design” been widely available and promoted maybe the common understanding would have helped their cause.  You cannot self-regulate as one thing without some common understanding of the meaning of that credential or qualification.

This is why I believe the official definition of Interior Design plays a critical role in our advancement. It is really what defines us….pun intended.  It is how the profession sees itself and it is the public face of the profession.  It is the only mission statement we have.  It certainly is the one publicly accessible message we have in which we can maintain our unique position within the building design professions.  Agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (except the “read blueprints”part), the Council for ID Accreditation the Interior Design Educators Council, 3 out of 5 of the interior design professional organizations in North America, as well as many traditional dictionary sites reference it.

Most importantly much of the existing legislation involving interior design is based on this official definition.  It is codified and bound legally in many of our title and practice acts.  Therefore any change to the official definition must be made in this light.

Note that the current official definition has not been updated since 2004.  This is an eon in the constantly churning internet age.

It is not my intent to actually perform the work necessary to redefine the profession here. My point is simply to force us to acknowledge the opportunity to apply some design thinking to this issue.  The actual process to update/revise the definition will take a lot of “mundane interaction” and a lot of time.  However, if we choose our words wisely in order to describe the nuances between code regulated design and non-code regulated such that the common person can identify with it, I maintain that we will then have the basis of a cogent and meaningful identity.

Once we have collectively decided to make this paradigmatic shift, or tack (for you nautical fans), in our professional identity we need to make sure that all components of the profession are sailing in the same direction.

We need to develop a message that is unique and intelligible by all. Then, and only then, do we roll out our new brand identity.

First and foremost we need to get our regulatory entities on board.  CIDA & NCIDQ will need to embrace the new focus on RID and may need to adopt the new title or label that falls out of this process.

Then ID academy will need to adapt.  Easier said than done but without a solid foundation of emerging ID professionals this change in direction will simply fail.  Maybe  it will become the RID academy?  I am sure there is a research opportunity in there somewhere.

More thoughts on this particular aspect of our identity shift later in Step #7

But back to how we might promote our new identity.

We are often guilty of looking toward our allied licensed design building professionals for how we might approach or solve our own structural identity and process issues.  The interior designers posing as interior architects conundrum being one.  In this case I would urge us to look outside that box for inspiring best practices that might help us step back and consider a new approach befitting our paradigmatic change in messaging.

For instance financial planners have faced a similar identity crisis to ours.  That is that the term “financial planner” and the act of financial planning are not regulated (unless by a Certified Public Accountant).  Therefore anyone can claim to be a financial planner and plan your financial matters….anyone.  Hence the CFP Board was created to self-regulate the profession such that the general public can begin to distinguish between a dead-beat with a gift for sales and flair for math vs. an educated, trained and ethically vetted financial professional.  You may remember these rather self-deprecating prime time commercials that tried to address that misperception;

See humor can be effective.

We can also look to the Society for Human Resource Management which again is trying to distinguish those who are qualified vs. those who are not simply by advancing a message on the private level.

Not quite as humorous but again a good example of shifting a paradigm without government regulation.  Some will argue that neither CFP’s or SHRM’s actions directly affect the health or safety of the public so legislating their professions is a reach.  I don’t disagree but if you consider how much of the public’s welfare, or wellbeing, they might affect, as in losing your life savings, or your career, the argument loses ground.  Keep in mind that both of these entities are simply promoting a message.  Both would like to become legally protected but both also realize that they cannot achieve legal recognition before the public really understands their worth and value to society.

I am also not advocating for TV commercials to solve our profession’s identity crisis.  I am advocating for a new approach.  How we do that leads me to Step #3.  Stay tuned

NOTES:

  1. Ideal Selves as Resources for the Situated Practice of Identity  Management Communication Quarterly,  Volume: 24 issue: 4, page(s): 503-528
    Article first published online: August 31, 2010; Issue published: November 1, 2010 retrieved 10/17/17 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0893318910374938

ADVANCING THE PROFESSION OF INTERIOR DESIGN- STEP ONE

STEP #1

The profession has to muster its collective courage, creative problem solving skills, and intellectual capacity to address the disparity between those interior designers who do not practice in code regulated building design environments and those who are educated/trained/certified to practice in code regulated design environments.

 

building-permit 24HPERMIT DOT COM                                                             https://www.24hplans.com/do-i-need-a-building-permit/

Per my previous post on this subject I surmised that the identity crisis within the profession creates several impediments to advancing the profession.  My main premise is that not everyone is on board with the idea that we have to advance the profession on any level but in particular by way of regulation and licensure.  Consequently the numbers simply are not there for us to realize any momentum, or inertia, to move the profession forward on the legislative front.

So in that rather dim light how, or where, do we start in order to successfully advance the profession?

First we have to accept the fact that there are two types of interior spaces. Those that are regulated by codes and standards ……….and those that are not. PERIOD. END OF STORY……Okay not the end of this blog though.

Consequently there are two factions of Interior Designers…those that work within code regulated building design environments and those whose work is not encumbered by the restrictions of codes, standards, and concern for their clients health, life safety, and well-being.

Of course there are exceptions.  There are some interior designers that are able to cross-over into both aspects of the interior design realm outlined above, hence the title “generalist”. To be clear these generalists must prove that they are knowledgeable of codes and standards that apply to their permitted work in order to truly be considered generalists. So for all intents and purposes of this argument we consider these generalist interior designers to be code regulated.

And yes we also have a litany of ways in which we have tried to distinguish the qualified, code regulated, and professional from the innately talented, self-proclaimed interior decorator/designers. For example you can be a Certified Interior Designer, a State Certified Interior Designer, a Registered Interior Designer, a State Registered Interior Designer, or a Licensed Interior Designer.  But to the general public we are still Interior Designers.  A licensed barber does not mean by default that an unlicensed barber does not know how to cut hair. A subtle nuance no doubt.  Yet that is how I see our various labels of interior design at this point in our professional journey. No matter how we parse our legal and ethical obligations or regulate titles or add credentials to our names….. we are still “Interior Designers” and that is how society sees us for better or worse….generally worse.

So back to my point.  Again we have code regulated interior designers and we have unregulated interior designers.  Note I am not trying to apply a title to this rather nuanced distinction. I simply want to clarify this fundamental point.  More on the label issue later.

And if you think I am making this bi-polar identity issue up you need to know that this crisis has haunted the profession for decades, as noted in this lament by Florence Knoll in 1964 and this reflective editorial by Walter Ford II penned in 1967 (date crossed out on copy- reprinted by Contract Design Magazine in 2010).  Let me reiterate our identity crisis is now one half of a century old.  While we may be a “young profession” (compared to Neanderthal cave decorators) it is clear that we have not made much progress on our identity crisis. Basically while a few scholars have tried to force the profession to ponder our conflicted professional identity nobody has been willing to say “Enough! It is time to get serious”.

If you are keeping up with me you should be thinking….”yes…yes PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER that is why there is a growing contingent of interior designers who are abandoning the label “designer” and adding the title “architect” to their name even though they are not architects”.  While they are not shouting their disdain for the failure of interior design to fully describe their work, or provide a modicum of respect for their professional identity, their actions certainly speak volumes.  Frankly I do not blame them.

If you do not already know where I stand on this topic let’s just say I have been calling ‘ENOUGH”! for at least 10 years.

IT’S TIME.  LET’S DO THIS.

Call it a strategic separation.  Call it a divorce.  It is time to distance ourselves from our eternally conflicted interior decorator/designer past.  Hopefully the separation can be amicable..but if not then so be it.  Such a paradigmatic change is not going to be easy, and there may be some hurt egos/feelings, but we have to stop being everything to everybody if we are to have any control over our own professional identity.  This is the only way we are going to garner the numbers of like-minded individuals who are willing to invest the time, energy, and resources necessary to change the paradigm

I believe we can do this potentially nasty bit of business and professional housecleaning but it is going to take more than this diatribe to make it so.  As Stacy Wieland explains in her article on how individuals and organizations frame identity constructs this will require individuals within the profession to undergo a “dynamic back and forth relationship” in order to settle on an identity construct that is amenable to the “stencils” among the profession.  I understand that this platform has a very narrow market and limited, if any, influence but I know my mother reads it…so for me that is a start.

Now if you are still following me and see the need for, and benefit of, forcing a divorce between unregulated interior designers/decorators and those who practice in code regulated interior design your next question is probably something to the effect of… “what in the Sam Hill do we call this new form of interior design?”

Ahhh yes the age-old question and the one that is most difficult to answer……….which makes a perfect segue to my Step #2 “The profession must better define itself and promote that message to the public”

Stay tuned.

“INTERIOR DESIGN LICENSE AND REGISTRATION PLEASE…..”

COPAP/Rich Pedroncelli

But…But Officer I’m Not a Licensed Interior Designer

While there may be a few egalitarian designers out there who do NOT recognize the value of job titles, professional credentials or licensure – reality tells us that labels are a fact of life. What we call ourselves, how we label our work, and how we distinguish our personal occupational pathway is not only important to us and our egos it is also important to our professional domain and ultimately to society in general. For most of us – our jobs are who we are.  Our job’s define us and most of us do care how those jobs are perceived by the rest of society.  There is an entire field of science that deals with such identity constructs but Oen and Cooper¹ provide the most pertinent take away;

“Labels can serve well only if there are common definitions of terms and widespread association of a given label with a given set of activities. One who performs surgical procedures on humans , for example,  is labeled a surgeon.  For professional identity, such clarity of understanding is essential.”

My point here is that the profession of interior design (educated/trained/certified) has an identity crisis.  Our “label” is fuzzy at best.  If you do not understand please see my previous 340 posts on the subject.  My entire reason for this blog is to ponder how interior design professionals present our value to society and how we advance our profession in a world that is becoming exponentially more complex and competitive.

Unfortunately many of my peers believe that the most impactful way to advance the interior design profession is by regulating the title or the practice of interior design.  Meaning that if one has a license, one is automatically afforded a level of respect via a general understanding of our value to society and, voila, our identity crisis is solved.  Well…..no that is not how it works.  That is not how any of this works.

I acknowledge that there are a few code regulated interior designers who understand that regulating our profession is  fundamentally about our right to work in an economic sense and they are right. Their focus is the pursuit of regulation and licensure none the less.  Same objective…just different motives.

How do you advance the interior design profession via laws and regulations when many members of the interior design profession do not care to actually advance it?

Okay if you are scratching your head over that one let me explain.

Given that the humans have evolved to become essentially an “indoor species” that spends 90%+/- of its collective time in man-made shelter it baffles me that interior designers are not looked upon and sought out as essential contributors to the betterment of the quality of our indoor based lives and livelihoods.  I understand that humans are fundamentally adaptable and that our collective standards as to what constitutes suitable indoor living/working environments have evolved over time.  Generally, if it keeps us warm, dry, and relatively safe we call it “good” -no highfalutin design types are needed.  An oversimplification?  Of course.  I also acknowledge that not all human society has advanced in unison for reasons way beyond the scope of this argument but work with me here….I am trying to make a point.

While we have pretty much left dwelling in caves behind us, I think we can all agree that our standards for the quality and functionality of our interior environments could use some improvement.

So this is where the profession of interior design as defined here comes in….right?

Well if you believe that to be true- then WHY when most people are asked “what is interior design” or “what do interior designers do”, do they most likely think of this? ;

design-pencil-color-pallette-590kb071910
Lucidio Studio, Getty Images

Why is it that when most people in the civilized world fall ill they seek and respect the opinion of licensed medical professionals?  And when most people in the civilized world wish to build shelter for living or working they seek and respect the guidance of licensed contractors, engineers and architects.  However, when those same people find the need to ensure that the interior environments of those shelters are safe, functional, and are designed to improve the quality of their lives and/or livelihoods there is no clear go-to professional. That is not to say that everybody needs to hire a full-time-on-call-certified interior designer professional to “design” their every spatial need but when the need does present itself the public appears confused.  It is a challenge for event the most seasoned authorities of interior spatial needs to sort through the options. Seems to me that is both a problem and an opportunity for the actual profession of “Interior Design”.

There is no question that the market is there.  Yet the general public still cannot determine the difference between an innately qualified interior decorator posing as “designer” whose specialty is creating custom cashmere pillows for the uber-wealthy and a certified interior designer whose career specialty may be as complex as the overall design of the dementia treatment center that some of us may live out our final days…..depressing thought? Well yeah…but point made hopefully.

This fuzzy delineation of  interior design by its nature includes a large number of residential interior decorators and non-code regulated interior designers that have no interest in pursuing legislation that would allow them to practice as peers with, or independent of, licensed building design professionals.  In other words residential interior designers (AKA decorators) who do not practice in code regulated construction and design environments could care less about regulating the profession of interior design.  They have no desire to practice as peers with, or independent of, our allied licensed building design professions.  I will admit that I have no facts to back up that statement….other than 35+ years of experience watching the profession of interior design suffer through the misinformed stereotypes imposed by interior decorators proclaiming themselves to be “interior designers” and their work as “interior design”.  Pursuing regulation and obtaining a license to practice is the furthest thing from their daily occupational or career objectives.  In fact many of them have campaigned against any efforts by our profession to pursue regulation.  They actually see it as a threat. Yet our professional organizations still welcome their participation and dues monies.  Another story.  I digress.

Okay that is one group of interior designers that stands in the way of our advancement via regulation.

At the other end of the interior design professional spectrum is an influential and rapidly growing cadre of interior designers who are intentionally disavowing themselves of the label interior designer in favor of the more revered title of interior architect.  In other words these interior designers have simply abandoned the title “interior designer”.  They no longer wish to be subject to the stereotypes (if you need to know what those are please see my previous 320 posts) and despite the ethical and legal issues inherent in adopting a title of another licensed and regulated profession, more and more interior designers are bailing on the label “interior design”.  They do not see any value, or any future, in interior design as it is commonly understood by society.  If you have to ask how this semantic word play actually hinders interior design’s ability to achieve legal parity with other licensed building design professionals I really cannot help you.  The implications should be obvious.

So if you still think that all “Interior Designers” are all-in and on the same page regarding the effort to pursue a “license” please think again.  Another educated guess on my part but I am fairly certain that the number of interior designers who could care less about licensure far outnumbers the number of interior designers who do see value in a license, be that for the label cache’ or to actually practice independent of architects.  Which is another aspect of our misguided profession…many of us do not even know the difference between a certificate and a license.  I digress again.

To make the numbers even worse… somewhere in the middle of our vast professional domain (between the “I could care less about a license” residential decorator and the actual practicing licensed interior designer) are numerous legitimate/certified interior design professionals who are gainfully employed by licensed architecture or engineering firms.  While they may be highly qualified via certification, and may practice at the highest levels of the building design profession…they too have no immediate need for a license.  Why would they when they work for  licensed design practices that assumes that liability?  So be it out of fear of competing with one’s employer (usually an architect) or simple comfort with the status quo these designers care little to enlist in the effort to advance the profession via regulation.  I understand…I used to be one of these don’t rock the boat types?

Guess I fell out of that canoe.

Have I convinced you that the numbers simply do not work in the favor of those who are all-in the effort to pursue licensure for the profession?  None of us really know the actual number of interior designers who are investing copious amounts of effort to regulate the profession vs. those who claim the title of “interior designer” yet stand down on any effort to advance the profession and clarify our label.  Yet we continue to invest untold amounts of dues monies, time, blood sweat and tears into this very narrow objective.  We should all question the return on that investment and I should stop here.

But let’s assume for sake of my rant that every ‘Interior Designer” in North America supported the profession’s pursuit of government regulation that allowed them to hold a license to practice code regulated interior design.  Let’s say there are about 73,000² of us, for the sake of this argument, and we are all united under one organizational umbrella, we are all NCIDQ certified (or in pursuit thereof), we self-regulate via a North American Board/Council³, society grants us a level of respect similar to Architects and Engineers, and we are able to hire the best lobbyists nationwide.  73,000 members is a sizeable profession and would be a force for state and provincial legislators to reckon with. For comparison the AIA has 90,000+/- total members.  EDIT UPDATE 10/3017 THIS JUST IN FROM INTERIOR DESIGN MAGAZINE….THERE ARE ACTUALLY 112,000 INTERIOR DESIGNERS OUT THERE……Hmmmmm

With that we should be able to muster a successful campaign to implement legislation in many, if not all, states and provinces that would grant us a license to practice as peers with, or independent of, our allied licensed building design professionals.  Well I have more bad news for those of you who have bought into my hypothesis and are still reading this lengthy diatribe……there is a larger and seemingly more intractable force that stands in the way of this pursuit of government regulation and licensure real or otherwise.

The sociopolitical tides against occupational regulation are growing with each passing session of state and federal government.  While the effort may be rooted in Libertarian ideals, the notion actually crosses over into all political parties and few can argue that we in the states are over-regulated.  Well okay, there are probably a few licensed florists, auctioneers, and sports agents that might argue for needless regulation, but common sense tells us that much of what is included in the latest effort to reassess occupational licensure is true.  In this age of anti-everything the tide against regulation is growing and marginally defined occupations such as Interior Design remain in the cross-hairs http://licensure.rethinkwhy.org/

So fellow designers if we are going to rely on legislation and licensure to pull us out of our professional identity crisis we  must position code regulated interior design so that it fails the questionable regulation sniff test.  And we must do it YESTERDAY!

“But……but…PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER if the numbers really are not on our side and our own government is skeptical of our right to regulation what can we do to fundamentaly advance the profession of code regulated Interior Design?”

Funny you should ask.

I have actually thought about this.  Here is my outline of a plan that in the coming months will help me provide a framework for your consideration.

“Seems pretty arrogant of you PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER. You are not the boss of me or Interior Design…….Who do you think you are?”  

Well okay why don’t you tweet me your plan then and I will be happy to post it here…..plus you have read this far into my latest diatribe cut me some slack and read on.

STEP #1

The profession has to muster its collective courage, creative problem solving skills, and intellectual capacity to address the disparity between those interior designers who do not practice in code regulated building design environments and those who are educated/trained/certified to practice in code regulated design environments.

If step one does not happen the following points are moot. But let’s assume the best.

STEP #2

The profession must better define itself and promote that message to the public

STEP #3

We must all understand that certification is NOT the same as a license.

STEP #4

We must recognize that certification is a means, or a tool, to self-regulate the profession (see point one above) not solely a means to a license

STEP #5

Licensure is a right to work issue based on proven abilities to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and NOT a means to validate the profession.

STEP #6

Licensure is a political and legal quagmire that we are not prepared yet…to realize substantive success. 

STEP #7

The interior design academy and the regulatory agencies of the profession need to better collaborate to shift the culture of the code regulated interior design profession.

STEP #7

We need one professional membership organization

STEP #8

We need one national (or U.S./Canada) council to oversee regulatory efforts of the profession³

Still here?  Thank you.  Check back later and I will elaborate on the above.

NOTES:
  1. Oen, Carol; Cooper, Marianne.  Professional Identity and the Information Professional, Journal of the American Society for Information Science (1986-1988); Sep 1988; 39, 5;ABI/INFORM Collection pg. 355
  2. This number includes ASID’s 13,500 members, IIDA’s 15,000 members, IDC’s (Canada) 5,000 members in total.  I also include an additional 40,000 certified interior designers that are unaffiliated with any professional membership organization. Myself for example.
  3. For those of you who have been around awhile….this idea may sound familiar.  An influential group of contract interior designers created The Governing Board for Contract Interior Design Standards in the mid 1980’s.  This group was a voluntary certification board with no real regulatory influence and disbanded in 1999 due to lack of inertia and support from the larger profession.  So please do not tell me this label confusion is a new problem.

 

 

 

Can We Really Legislate or Define Our Way Out of This?

Kudos to Ms. Coryell for taking advantage of her right to promote her business. I don’t agree with her methods but I admire her entrepreneurial spirit.

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IDCC & CCIDC Seek Input on Adding “Commercial” to California’s CID Credential

Familiarize yourself here and take the survey if it applies;

http://shoutout.wix.com/so/cLrIy9Gz?cid=9ca151d3-acaa-46bf-acaa-85e558baccfe#/main

So if you do not practice Interior Design in California you probably are unaware of their voluntary certification system.  It is confusing….even if you do practice in California but why should we care?

As the most populous state in the Union California also has the largest number of Interior Designers of any state, territory, or province…..by far.

As an outlier to the practice and professional advancement via regulation that the other 49 states, 10 provinces, and 5 territories (3 Canadian/2 U.S.) generally follow, California’s defiance to follow the  accepted system presents many issues for the broader Interior Design profession to consider.

The first is sheer numbers.  While IIDA and ASID have robust participation in California the broader profession suffers from California’s insular approach to the code regulated practice of Interior Design.  At a minimum reciprocity is not, and can never be, an option. Also the CCIDC remains steadfast in its control of the regulatory gate via its own exam- the IDEX Examination.  Of course California is free to do what it wants with its pursuit of right to practice issues for its Interior Design professionals but its voluntary self-regulated system is such an anomaly to the rest of the profession’s pursuit of state regulated practice that it may as well be another sovereign nation.

The larger profession sure could benefit if California were to move from a self-regulated system to a state regulated/licensed practice system.  The inertia and legal precedents would be helpful.  BUT….That said there are positive aspects to the concept of voluntary self-regulation that PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER admires.  Maybe we can adopt a hybrid system that will make everybody happy……California dreaming…..I digress.

The main motivation behind the inclusion of “Commerical” in the CID credential is the suspect manner in which California’s Building/Code officials review CID stamped/signed permit documents.  There is no consistency and unless a CID has a long-standing relationship with building departments and has proven that they know their business the ability to obtain permits statewide is suspect at best.  It is believed that by adding the word “Commercial” to the CID credential (not sure in what manner) that building officials would understand that particular designer has proven ability to practice in the code regulated realm.

I commend both IDCC and CCIDC for even considering this seemingly subtle title nuance.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

 

In Defense of Interior Decoration?

https://www.stevenstolmaninc.com/single-post/2017/07/16/In-Defense-of-Decorators

 

MoltingOwl

On the surface the above blog post ruffled my PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER feathers….Mr. Stolman clearly blurs the line between interior decoration and Interior Design which is a particular sore point with moi……..but.

While I appreciate Mr. Stolman’s impassioned plea for relevance I wonder if interior decoration just might wither away.  Maybe interior decoration will become crushed under the weight of its inability to add anything resembling real value to our increasingly harried and techno-focused lives in which the quality of those lives is getting harder and harder to manage.  Certainly it has always been an elitist pursuit and with the redistribution of wealth in the world, eliminating the middle and upper middle class, the market for pure decoration-as-art services is getting narrower and narrower.

Case in point http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/business/interior-decorator-pascale-duwat-closes-showroom-palm-beach/SRcBfTX2WbuL3EpM8oMI1N/ 

As Mr. Stolman notes technology has actually lowered the standard for entry into the interior decoration occupational domain.  Why pay when you can do it yourself?

With no real technical skills or body of knowledge to master before proclaiming oneself an interior decorator the occupation of interior decoration has always been more of an art than a necessity.  I now see a bleak future for the occupation of decoration.  Maybe that is just me hoping…….

Now we, the professional Interior Designers, have to make sure we do not suffer the same fate as predicted in this article;

https://www.inc.com/alex-moazed/is-the-interior-design-industry-getting-disrupted.html

 

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 )