No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

It Doesn’t Involve Me – or Does It?

Thanks to the great website Kitchen Design Notes for pointing out in the following post that interior design legislation concerns us all.

Whether you were formally educated in design or not, whether you hold current certification/licensure in a state that requires it or not, passage of any kind of interior design legislation will affect you. And even if you’re just a member of the general public, the issue concerns you as well.

So many people think they’re safe, or that only interior decorators won’t be able to practice, but nothing could be further from the truth, as the pending legislation in Maryland shows, as it hasn’t even got a grandfathering clause.

Many manufacturers are apathetic as well, which really stuns me. Who do they think is going to continue to specify their products if 90% of interior designers are put out of business by legislation? Their costs will skyrocket as demand decreases, which will result in much higher prices to designer (and thus to consumers), and eventually, many of these companies will themselves go out of business. Don’t they realize that their membership dues in ASID are funding this push, which will negatively impact them? Industry partner members pay far and away the highest membership dues of anyone. They really ought to reconsider this expenditure in light of the use that’s being made of their funds, which will just come right back around and bite them in the proverbial you-know-where.

The same will happen with contractors and fabricators of all stripes, especially those who tend to work only with designers and not the general public.

The general public will be impacted as well, because the price of design fees as well as products and services will go through the roof as competition is eliminated, and they will lose the majority of choices they now have, both of designers and products. They will be restricted to dealing with designers who may well not be the best of the bunch, but who were good at passing a standardized test that has nothing whatsoever to do with creativity. Far and away the majority of the top designers in the country and world today would never qualify for licensure in most states now, the way that ASID and their state legislative coalitions and NCIDQ are trying to set things up. Please see the following post about Michael S. Smith, and how even he would not be eligible to design the White House for President and Mrs. Obama if it were not on Federal land – Unlicenced Designer to Decorate the White House. What a huge loss to everyone it would be if designers of the caliber of Smith had to close their doors! How much poorer we would all be if so many people like him with so much talent were no longer allowed to practice interior design. And yet this is exactly what will happen, if the legislation-mongerers have their way.

Even if you never would think to hire a designer yourself, and are just Joe Q. Public trying to get by from paycheck to paycheck, your costs to replace anything in your own home will rise as well, for all of these same reasons. Manufacturers will start to try to sell to you directly, if they don’t already, but the loss of business from the design trade will still cause their prices to increase – and you will pay for this even at Home Depot.

For those of you who are extremely wealthy, and couldn’t care less about the cost of anything, even now, you simply won’t even be able to hire the people you may most want to design your homes and offices if they are legislated out of existence because they simply won’t be around any more. And the pool of new talent will also become seriously restricted, as outlined below, as the best and the brightest will flee the field. It will get to where even all of your money won’t buy you the talent you most want, or the choices you expect, and should be able to expect.

Students, don’t even think you’ll be able to find a job after school if legislation comes to your state. First of all, as many as 90% of all present designers may well be put out of business, or at minimum, will not qualify to give you the supervised work experience you will need in order to be able to take the NCIDQ. Second, of those that remain, many will not need – or want – to hire anyone else, whether a student or not. And you won’t be able to practice on your own like you can now, so your whole education will go to waste. Do you really want to work for as little as $10/hour anyways? Yes, you read that right – ten dollars per hour. In the San Francisco area, one of the most expensive places to live in the country. That’s what I’m seeing most recently on Craig’s List as starting pay rates for design assistants, which is where you will start.

It is not illegal to practice interior design now in any state except the three in which the ASID-led cartel have managed to pass legislation that makes it illegal to do so without a license. They claim that the IBC makes it illegal, but it patently does not. What it does is leave the decision up to each jurisdiction, and most places and code officials have no desire to restrict the practice of interior design any more than it already is limited by architectural laws, or to regulate it. Read the code yourself – it’s on page 41. If what we do becomes illegal, it will only be because ASID and their cohorts will have made it that way.

Do not be misled into believing their scare tactics telling you that you won’t be able to practice what you’re learning now in school, because it’s simply not true. The only way that will happen is if they make it happen. And this is supposed to be protecting you?

Allied members of ASID, you are also part of the targetted group, and the same caveats apply. If you don’t qualify to take the NCIDQ, or don’t want to, you will also end up out of work. How many of you can afford to go to work for other designers, especially if you have already been working on your own for years? Just who do you think will be even willing to hire you? If you do residential design, you will have a tough time getting a commercial job because you don’t have experience in that realm, and let’s face it, no one on earth but your own clients will pay you anywhere near the rates you presently earn. Even if you can get someone to hire you, rest assured that about the most you will get with another firm will be somewhere around $25/hour or so, at the very most. Can you really afford to work for that – if you could even find a job? Or do you really want to have to return to school to get a degree in something you are already expert in?

Even many professional members of ASID will likely be impacted, especially in states that do not offer grandfathering, if you don’t already have the educational background mandated to qualify to take the NCIDQ, such as will happen in Maryland if the proposed legislation goes through.

And all of this still assumes a robust economy. The picture is even bleaker in tough times like we’re facing right now. Designers are already going out of business all over the place, just because of the economy.

Where are these people going? Many are having to enter other fields, but many are at least initially on unemployment insurance. If ineligible for benefits, or unable to find work, many will lose their homes, and some will undoubtedly end up on welfare and possibly be homeless – along with people in every other occupation that’s been hard hit these days. The last thing on earth that we need right now is governmental interference that will only increase the jobless rate in our profession!

How on earth can organizations like ASID and IIDA, who claim to want to assist and support their members, possibly justify their pushes to pass anticompetitive legislation? How can the people behind these tactics sleep at night, knowing that the law firm they have hired in Florida is literally hunting offenders down and fining them, issuing cease and desist orders, and as a result, factually and actually actively putting practicing designers out of business, especially in difficult times like these? And knowing full well that if they are successful, tends of thousands of other honest, hard-working designers will also be put out of business and lose their jobs? What kind of animal would deliberately do this kind of thing to their fellow man, let alone their professional colleagues? This is simply inconscionable. It’s mean, cruel, and vicious.

They claim that they’re not trying to put anyone out of business, but the fact remains that that’s exactly what’s already happening, especially in states like Florida. We’ve pointed it out ad inifinitum, documented it with all manner of comprehensive studies, the results of which are widely published in detail, yet they persist in claiming they have no such intent, and that no such thing will happen. Are they really that blind? Can they really be so stupid as to actually believe their own words and propaganda? Or are we actually looking at an organization and group of people who really wish their fellow man and colleague ill? Because they have no excuse any longer to believe that this is not the effect of their efforts. Even if they were legitimately misled or honestly didn’t realize the effects that their actions would have initially, there can’t be a one among them any more who has not had access to the proofs that we at IDPC and in the design community at large have offered about the truth of what is actually happening, the truth that these laws will negatively impact people the way we say they will, and are already doing so in places like Florida.

Instead of facing facts, including that 30 years of efforts to pass design legislation have failed for very good reasons that still exist today, these people and organizations are all up in arms against IDPC, and have been for some time. ASID has been sending out all manner of pleas for members to renew, and letters extolling the evils of IDPC and painting themselves as innocent victims who are just trying to keep the public safe and protect their members. They call, write, and email, begging members to renew, offering all kinds of incentives, because the reality is that designers see what’s happening, and refuse to renew their memberships to fund their own demise any more. Pro-legislation people from all camps are posting all manner of nasty comments on many blogs and newspaper websites, viciously attacking the whole opposition movement, and even many of the known individuals within it. It’s incredible to see all manner of swearing and name-calling posted by supposedly professional people attacking their own colleagues, but that’s exactly what’s happening on blogs and in response to IDPC’s mailings.

They are clearly a desperate bunch, to need to resort to such attacking tactics, which are certainly unprofessional at best. But they have no facts and no data to support their claims that anything that we designers do is a) illegal anywhere except where their new laws have made it illegal, and b) that anything we do impacts the health, safety, and welfare of the public at any level that is remotely significant. They have shown with the Florida situation that they will literally stop at virtually nothing to put their competitors out of business, and ASID members are, in fact, turning in their own colleagues left and right, while designers in other states have also been heard to say they’d do the same thing if licensure were to become a reality in their own, precisely in order to eliminate the competition.

In fact, one prominently placed ASID designer finally recently admitted in public that they actually do not have a shred of actual evidence to back up their claims that unlicensed designers are a threat to anyone (see And yet these people persist in their quest to destroy the competition – and other people’s lives along with it.

Even if you remain unconvinced that this is an issue from a design perspective, occupational licensing of any sort interferes with our Constitutional rights to earn a living and to practice the profession of our choice. There are already far too many such laws on the books, and much too much governmental regulation of people’s private lives. Thankfully, some states have now seen fit to declare existing interior design regulations unconstitutional, and there are Constitutional challenges taking place in others, which we fully expect to prevail. We really cannot afford to continue this trend of governmental meddling in our private lives if we hope to remain the free people our Founding Fathers envisioned that we would be. Absent clear proof of any hazard to the public (which simply does not exist with respect to interior design), the government should darn well stay out of our lives. If we continue down this path, we will lose all of our freedoms eventually. We must stop this pernicious trend.

So, if you are neither a designer, manufacturer, contractor, fabricator, client, nor a member of the general public, then you may be right that the question of design legislation does not involve you.

But we obviously all fall into at least one of these categories, so let the buyer beware. Your apathy now will cost you later, one way or another, no matter who you are.

Please join IDPC today, and consider sponsorship, if you can afford to do so, whether you are a designer or anyone else. Protecting interior designers’ right to practice impacts all segments of society.

Wendy Hoechstetter

Hoechstetter Interiors


March 12, 2009 - Posted by | Florida, Maryland, Students


  1. The issue of apathy has to be addressed and I thank you for publishing this. My hope is that more manufacturers get off the sidelines and act against legislation. These are strange times we are living in, when the powerhouse and might of American manufacturing, is being left behind for cheaper products imported from overseas. We are more powerful if we act together rather than fighting to protect our rights to earn our livelihood. Sitting it out with disinterested apathy is not going to make the issue go away. Design professionals whose businesses feed the manufacturing economic pipeline will of course impact the manufacturers they buy from. Interior Design Legislation will impact everyone. The groups that have taken a stand against Interior Design Legislation include the AIA (American Institute of Architects), NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association), CDAL (California Designers Against Legislation), former Allied ASID and former ASID members, BSA (Boston Society of Architects), RAM (Retailers Association of Massachusetts), NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses), Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Building Inspectors, IJ (The Institute For Justice), Live Free and Design, Massachusetts Fire Chiefs oppose Interior Design Legislation
    Massachusetts Building Inspectors Oppose Interior Design Legislation, CLCID, IDS, IFDA, IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council), CAB (California Architects Board), CALBO (California Building Officials), Los Rios Community College District, WHFA (Western Home Furnishings Association), Lumber Association of California, NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), AIBD (American Institute of Building Designers),
    The Home Depot, California Retailers Association.

    If your association or company is not among the growing list of those opposed to Interior Design Legislation, ask yourself why not.

    Comment by Laurie | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. […] As I wrote in my post “It Doesn’t Involve Me – Or Does It?”: […]

    Pingback by Why Design Legislation is Bad for Students « No Design Legislation | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  3. Interior design is a comprehensive discipline requiring first and foremost innate creative talent, as well as a formal education or apprentice training, and years of experience to master. There are no requirements to enter the field; consequently there is a plethora of people professing to be interior designers who have virtually no qualifications. But not all of their work is mediocre, and although they have no fundamental training some are good interior designers, and quite a few are exceptional. The argument for licensing interior designers through testing has no validly and will not address the crux of the situation impartially. Let the market place determine who will fail and who will succeed not an arbitrary group of autocrats.

    Interior design is an art form where aesthetic considerations are paramount. The principle objective of a professional designer is to form a lifestyle into a unique way of living through the of use of space, color, textiles, and furnishings, thereby creating high quality surroundings and the great comfort that they provide. Those who believe that an interior designer’s primary function is the health, life; safety and welfare of the public are either morons or know nothing about our profession or most likely both.

    There is no test available or educational process that can improve a designer’s innate ability to create acceptable interior environments. A basic education from an accredited institution is important, but not always essential; innate talent is what makes a top designer not some irrelevant test To believe that an interior designer who passes the NCIDQ exam has suddenly improved his or her design skills is pure hogwash. Nothing will change – it’s the same person with the same set of skills who either has it or doesn’t have it
    Some clients and many designers have difficulty aesthetically distinguishing a mediocre interior design plan from an outstanding one. Although it is not easy to vet an interior designer, it is extremely important to do so in a profession that has its share of mediocrity, and being an ASID professional does not qualify one as being a first rate designer – to the contrary, search the internet for so called professional ASID designers (not allied), and look at their portfolios. If you have a modicum of refined taste, and I assume you do or you wouldn’t be reading this blog, you will be astonished at what you find. Much of their work is substandard, bordering on being amateurish and reflecting a lack of creativity and an unacceptable level of good taste. Many use mundane fabrics and have little understanding of texture and color. Most know nothing about quality furniture manufacturers and select inferior products and furnish rooms with little understanding of scale and form.
    One might draw a correlation to attorneys that have passed the bar which in no way will indicate the lawyers ability to perform in a courtroom or with a client As in any profession there are a few that excel, many that are average, and a lot below average – our profession is no different, and instituting an irrelevant test is not going to change that.
    The following are three sample multiple choice questions from the NCIDQ exam; there are 20 questions on the sample and most had no relationship to residential interior design:
    The space needs of an automobile showroom may best be determined by
    A. the number of employees
    B. the size of the automobiles
    C. the type of activity that takes place
    D. the seating area required
    ANSWER B Size of the automobiles – Laughable; within a specific make the size of various models does not vary significantly enough to be an issue, and the showroom would be continually changing models anyway. The logical answer is the number of cars needed to be displayed.
    A good fabric choice for draperies and wall covering would be
    A. wool
    B. cotton
    C. linen
    D. silk
    ANSWER C Linen – Ridiculous – that question and answer is so nonsensical it’s not worth commenting on
    One of the most important considerations in the selection of upholstery fabric is
    A. smoldering resistance
    B. maintenance
    C. Color
    D. Fabric
    ANSWER A smoldering resistance – Fact, home textiles used by residential designers that are available from textile mills and upholstery manufacturers do not indicate smoldering resistance ; a good residential designer would be primarily interested in the type of fabric and coloration that enhances the design plan..
    These questions and answers are so completely unreasonable, and not at all sensible, and just plain silly, that they are a good indication of the value and intellectual content of this specious exam and the people promoting it. The NCIDQ exam is nebulous and irrelevant to residential interior design; no wonder the majority of those taking it are unable to pass –summation WORTHLESS.
    If some form of certification is eventually agreed upon it must be based on a designer’s ability to create acceptable home interiors, not on irrelevant facts and codes that are useless and unimportant to residential designers. If an exam is required for certification it must be logical, relevant and straightforward so a majority is able to pass, and it should be specific to either residential or commercial designers. There could be more than one level of certification determined by the applicants’ qualifications including education, experience, and creative ability. The slippery slope here is who or what group determines ones aesthetic talent. Most important, our profession should not be attempting to eliminate 90% of the people in it, many of whom are very good designers that depend upon interior design to make a living. In a free market everyone should have an equal chance to succeed. If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it.
    Interestingly, Michael Alin the past executive director of ASID has no background or experience in interior design. He was an academic in unrelated disciples for 20 years prior to joining ASID. He is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree from the Maxwell School of social science, and does not hold an interior design degree; therefore he does not meet the educational requirement which would preclude him from taking the NCIDQ exam that he so vehemently endorses, which is a prerequisite to professional ASID accreditation. Yet, paradoxically he oversaw the ASID membership and would like to have had dictatorial rights over the rest of us; furthermore he had the audacity to criticize Michael Smith’s talent referring to him in a denigrating manner as a “decorator”. It is obvious Mr.Alin is not an authority in our field and therefore not qualified to intelligently discuss the profession, let alone censure one of the country’s top interior designers. Mr. Alin your credentials, or lack thereof are frightening.

    ASID’s professional membership is an alliance of elitists who want to limit competition and control our profession. Many of these so called professionals have less than average talent and no innate creative ability. ASID has done nothing to improve the image of our profession, to educate the public, and to further the exposure of individual designers, thus people have various misconceptions with a limited understanding of the interior design profession – most have never heard of ASID. In my twenty years of involvement in the profession I have never been asked once if I am a member. They are typical of a gang of small time bullies attempting to become big fish in a small pond. Who in God’s name gave this supercilious group of know-nothings the authority to take control of our profession? Our country and the interior design trade deserves better. I urge Allied members to resign your membership; you are funding your own demise, moreover you are receiving nothing for your money.

    Richard Delier
    Delier & Delier
    Interior Design
    Delier CO.

    Comment by Richard Delier | October 24, 2012 | Reply

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