No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

ASID: Consumers Very Satisfied Working with Interior Designers

In 2005, ASID did a study indicating that consumers are “very satisfied working with an interior designer”.  According to Anita Baltimore, FASID, the then-president of ASID, “The new ASID study shows that most homeowners who work with interior designers recognize the value of their services once they see the results” (emphasis added).

More and more households are using designers, too.  In 1997, consumer use of designers was estimated at about 4% of households with an annual income of $70,000 or more, which comprised 6% of the US population.

By 2005, that percentage had increased to 14% of that population hiring an interior designer, with 34% having household incomes between $125,000 and $200,000, although the study also says that they are just as likely to have incomes between $75,000 and $125,000 as between $200,000 and $400,000.  Age-wise, clients are mostly between the ages of 35 and 65, and gender distribution is 64% females vs 36% males.

According to the article, “The most common projects for which a designer was hired were to remodel or redecorate a kitchen or bath, a living or family room, or bedroom. Almost one-fourth (23 percent) of those who hired an interior designer completely remodeled or redecorated an entire home, compared to about one-fifth (19 percent) of those who did not. The most frequently mentioned responsibilities for the designers on these projects were space planning or arranging (67 percent), consultation for aesthetic advice (56 percent), selecting furniture or other products (49 percent), improving functionality (39 percent), remodeling (33 percent), and managing the project (30 percent)”.

So what does this have to do with legislation?

Everything.

The sponsors of this study are the same group of people who are screaming bloody murder that the public needs to be protected from the consequences of having the widest range of options possible because they can’t tell the difference between a competent designer and Betty Decorator who has no clue what she’s doing (regardless of what label they use to describe themselves, by the way).

But this demographic is not a stupid group of people – obviously.

Anyone earning a minimum of $70,000 in this country in this day and age is pretty much by definition highly intelligent and competent, or they wouldn’t have reached that level in their occupations that would bring them to that income level.  That is even more true of those in the higher income ranges cited.  I think it’s safe to assume that many of these people are in highly responsible jobs where all kinds of critical decisions are made, requiring high levels of analytical skills.  These are upper level managers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, etc. – the captains of industry who run this country, the people who take care of the rest of us.  It’s the highly educated, not the high school dropouts.

By the age of 35, it’s also pretty safe to say that these folks have lived a slice of life enough to be able to figure out for themselves how to find competent help in all areas of their homes as well as their business, inluding in the selection of their interior designers.

What’s more, you know darn well that people at this level professionally are also often involved in the selection of designers for their offices, many of whom are then brought home to do the houses, or vice versa.

So, are we to assume that this group of people leave their intelligence and analytical skills at the doors to their homes?  That they suddenly become incapable of assessing quality of services or products for their own residences, as opposed to in their jobs?  That the skills that have helped them to the tops of their professions don’t extend to the ability to even select a good, competent designer for their businesses, without governmental assistance?

I think not.

And notice the percentages.  Far and away most of these people surveyed hired designers for what can most accurately be described as “decorating” kinds of services.  “Arranging”, “aesthetic advice”, “selecting furniture or other products”.

Duh.  We know this is what the public thinks designers do – and those creative elements are definitely a part of it.  A big part.  So why are ASID and other pro-legislation people trying to downplay the importance of this aesthetic side of what we do?  And create a credentialing process that doesn’t even take it into account?

The reality is that creativity and aesthetics are just as important as technical knowledge.  It’s no good to have either one without the other, and in the best projects, they are seamlessly integrated.

But the numbers are also significant for those who hired designers to do much more extensive remodeling, which is where a professional designer, however he or she comes by her knowledge, can really be of benefit to clients.  Just by nature of the overall increase in utilization of interior design services, and the not insubstantial percentages of people utilizing a designer to execute a complete remodel, space planning, project management, etc., I think we can safely say that these people recognize the existence  and value of the skills of a professional designer.  With a more than threefold increase in the utilization of design services, it’s probably safe to say that the utilization 0f these more extensive services has increased similarly, along with the increase in use of more decorative services.

Now, if these designers had not been competent, just how many building permits do you think would have been issued for the remodeling work that they specified?  And how many of their clients would have been “very satisfied” with their work?

Not too many.

So, we have an increasing number of highly intelligent and succcesful people hiring interior designers to provide a very broad scope of services, including extensive remodelling, and even ASID says that on the whole, they are indeed “very satisfied” with the work of these designers.

So why does ASID still claim we need legislation?  To protect people from… what?  Being already satisfied with the work of the designers they obviously already know how to successfully select and hire?

We need licensing and credentialing, then, for… what, exactly?

And let’s not forget that Michael S. Smith, one of the most talented, successful, and celebrated interior designers of our times, has been hired by no less a client than President and Mrs. Obama to redo the White House.  He’s not licensed, not a member of ASID, did not graduate from any kind of design school, etc.  And yet, somehow, he’s still good enough for the President of the United States, and apparently no one in the current administration believes that in any way the lives, health, or safety of the President or his family will be at risk, as Michael Alin, the current president of ASID, not-so -subtly suggested in his presumptuous January 2009 letter to the First Couple in Interiors & Sources.

Methinks that his ability to keep the First Family safe will have been scrutinized down to the nth degree by the people responsible for keeping them safe and sound, and clearly he has been found competent, by what is most like the most excruciatingly detailed examination any designer anywhere is likely to have to face.

If an unlicensed, uncredentialled designer who did not complete any form of professional formal schooling is good enough for the White House, then why aren’t they good enough for everyone else?

So what is it, ASID?  Are consumers satisfied with the current offerings and way of doing things or not?

Because if you are going to still crow about how unsophisticated consumers are, how much they need to be protected from the consequences of allegedly uninformed opinions and the clutches of designers who have no clue what they are doing, then why are you also reporting unprecedented levels of satisfaction with this very group of people you want to regulate?
Which of these opinions/groups of facts are actually true?  Because you are speaking with forked tongue to promulgate both opinions, which completely contradict one another.

If, indeed, consumers really are already satisfied, then what’s wrong that actually needs to be changed?

The fact of the matter is that the system ain’t broke, folks.  It doesn’t need fixing.  It’s just fine the way it is.

People who want to be able to highlight their educations and experiences should be allowed to voluntarily, like we do it here in CA.  There’s no need to require this kind of validation – and multiple studies by both the Institute for Justice, the Reason Foundation, and others have repeatedly shown this.

It’s time to end this nonsense of endless attempts to regulate this profession – an effort that has met with spectacularly little success, despite more than 30 years of attempts to pass legislation to control what we do and who is allowed to do it.  Legislators as a group aren’t stupid, either.  Over and over again, ASID and its legislative coalitions in many states have met with spectacular failure to convince the majority of them that there is any compelling need whatsoever to regulate this profession in any way, despite millions and millions of dollars (of members’ dues money!) being poured into exactly this effort.

In just the past year alone, something like nearly 60 attempts have met with crashing failure to convince legislators that there is any value whatsoever in regulating interior designers, and in just a little more than that time frame, successful Constitutional challenges to existing laws in at least three states have been mounted, striking down several such laws as completely unconstitutional.

Thirty years of failure – and yet these people persist.  Think about it.

The definition of insanity is widely held to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Why won’t these people learn from their own endless failures?

And why won’t they look at the results of their own studies showing that consumers are already highly satisfied with the way things are?

It boggles the mind, and only reinforces the obvious conclusion that this is nothing but a cartelization effort of a small group of people who are hoping to keep a bigger piece of a growing pie for their own selves, and to shut out the competition.

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May 30, 2009 - Posted by | ASID, California, Institute for Justice | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

19 Comments »

  1. Wendy – Thank you for educating Decorati.com members about the issues in our community forums.
    -Shane

    Comment by Shane Reilly | May 31, 2009 | Reply

    • My pleasure, Shane – and thank *you* for the heads up about the questions.

      Comment by Hoechstetter Interiors | May 31, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wendy,
    Wonderful job exposing the hypocrisy coming straight out of ASID’s own reports.
    This is exactly why the courts have overturned interior design legislation in the majority of states. Florida will fall too.

    Comment by Laurie Burke | June 1, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks, Laurie. Yes, I believe that Florida will go down as well, once this gets to court. The law is just too riddled with problems, and hurting too many people.

      Comment by Hoechstetter Interiors | June 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. (SORRY I PUT IN SOME HTML PROMPTS ABOVE..THIS IS WHAT I MEANT TO SAY- YOU ARE FREE TO VOICE YOUR OPINION…AS AM )

    In 2005, ASID did a study indicating that consumers are “very satisfied working with an interior designer”. According to Anita Baltimore, FASID, the then-president of ASID, “The new ASID study shows that most homeowners who work with interior designers recognize the value of their services once they see the results” (emphasis added).
    More and more households are using designers, too. In 1997, consumer use of designers was estimated at about 4% of households with an annual income of $70,000 or more, which comprised 6% of the US population.
    By 2005, that percentage had increased to 14% of that population hiring an interior designer, with 34% having household incomes between $125,000 and $200,000, although the study also says that they are just as likely to have incomes between $75,000 and $125,000 as between $200,000 and $400,000. Age-wise, clients are mostly between the ages of 35 and 65, and gender distribution is 64% females vs 36% males.
    According to the article, “The most common projects for which a designer was hired were to remodel or redecorate a kitchen or bath, a living or family room, or bedroom. Almost one-fourth (23 percent) of those who hired an interior designer completely remodeled or redecorated an entire home, compared to about one-fifth (19 percent) of those who did not. The most frequently mentioned responsibilities for the designers on these projects were space planning or arranging (67 percent), consultation for aesthetic advice (56 percent), selecting furniture or other products (49 percent), improving functionality (39 percent), remodeling (33 percent), and managing the project (30 percent)”.
    So what does this have to do with legislation?
    Everything.
    (YOU STARTED OUT WITH FACTS AND THEN YOU VEERED WILDLY INTO ABJECT CONJECTURE THAT YOU PRESENT AS FACT…WHICH I HAVE NOTICED IS THE M.O. OF THE ANTI-REGULATION MOVEMENT…AND YOU ARE VERY, VERY GOOD AT IT.)

    The sponsors of this study are the same group of people who are screaming bloody murder that the public needs to be protected from the consequences of having the widest range of options possible because they can’t tell the difference between a competent designer and Betty Decorator who has no clue what she’s doing (regardless of what label they use to describe themselves, by the way). (BETTY DECORATOR OFTEN DOES NOT UNDERSTAND, OR IS UNWILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE HER LIMITS. IN THE RESIDENTIAL REALM THIS AMBIGUITY IS OFTEN MANAGEABLE, IN THE CONTRACT WORLD IT IS DANGEROUS)
    But this demographic is not a stupid group of people – obviously. (DUHHH!)
    Anyone earning a minimum of $70,000 in this country in this day and age is pretty much by definition highly intelligent and competent, or they wouldn’t have reached that level in their occupations that would bring them to that income level.(SO YOU HONESTLY BELIEVE YOU CAN EQUATE INCOME WITH INTELLIGENCE AND MORE SPECIFICALLY THE INATE ABILITY TO DIFFERENTIATE A DECORATOR FROM A CERTIFIED INTERIOR DEISGNER???LOL!!) That is even more true of those in the higher income ranges cited. I think it’s safe to assume that many of these people are in highly responsible jobs where all kinds of critical decisions are made, requiring high levels of analytical skills(AGAIN WILD SPECULATION ON YOUR PART TO JUSTIFY YOUR “TO EACH HIS OWN” PSUEDO LIBERTARIAN TWIST ON CONSUMER PROTECTION). These are upper level managers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, etc. – the captains of industry who run this country, the people who take care of the rest of us. It’s the highly educated, not the high school dropouts.(AND YOU THOUGHT I WAS ELITIST…..THAT IS JUST DUMBFOUNDINGLY ARROGANT. PROFESSIONAL INTERIOR DESIGNERS HAVE A GREAT TRACK RECORD OF PROVIDING DESIGN SERVICES FOR ALL SOCIAL/ECONOMIC LEVELS…AND IDEC HAS MADE IT A MISSION TO TEACH STUDENTS THAT ALL PEOPLE CAN BENEFIT FROM GREAT DESIGN…BUT I GUESS YOU MISSED THAT BUS)
    By the age of 35, it’s also pretty safe to say that these folks have lived a slice of life enough to be able to figure out for themselves how to find competent help in all areas of their homes as well as their business, inluding in the selection of their interior designers.(MAYBE IF THEY ARE LOOKING FOR JUST THE RIGHT TASSLE FOR THEIR OVERDRAPES..BUT NOT FOR ANY EFFORT DESIGNING PHYSIOLOGICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY SUPPORTIVE INTERIOR ENVIRONMENTS THAT ENHANCE QUALITY OF LIFE.)
    What’s more, you know darn well that people at this level professionally are also often involved in the selection of designers for their offices, many of whom are then brought home to do the houses, or vice versa.(DECORATORS MAYBE, PROFESSIONAL INTERIOR DESIGERS NO!)
    So, are we to assume that this group of people leave their intelligence and analytical skills at the doors to their homes? That they suddenly become incapable of assessing quality of services or products for their own residences, as opposed to in their jobs? That the skills that have helped them to the tops of their professions don’t extend to the ability to even select a good, competent designer(DECORATOR) for their businesses, without governmental assistance?
    I think not. (AT LEAST YOU ADMIT THAT YOU “KNOW NOT”)
    And notice the percentages. Far and away most of these people surveyed hired designers for what can most accurately be described as “decorating” kinds of services. “Arranging”, “aesthetic advice”, “selecting furniture or other products”.
    Duh. We know this is what the public thinks designers do – and those creative elements are definitely a part of it. A big part. So why are ASID and other pro-legislation people trying to downplay the importance of this aesthetic side of what we do? And create a credentialing process that doesn’t even take it into account?(IN MY WORLD THE ACTUAL DECORATION OF SPACE IS INSIGNIFICANT IN COMPARISON TO ALL OF THE MYRIAD OF OTHER MORE CRITICAL DESIGN PROCESS ISSUES. AGAIN YOU CONTINUE THE OBFUSCATION OF MERE SURFACE DECORATION WITH SUBSTANTIAL DESIGN OF PHYSIOLOGICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY SUPPORTIVE INTERIOR ENVIRONMENTS. DECORATION IS LAUGHABLY MINOR IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS)
    The reality is that creativity and aesthetics are just as important as technical knowledge. It’s no good to have either one without the other, and in the best projects, they are seamlessly integrated.(WOW WE ACTUALLY AGREE- WHERE ARE YOU GOING WITH THIS?)
    But the numbers are also significant for those who hired designers to do much more extensive remodeling, which is where a professional designer, however he or she comes by her knowledge, can really be of benefit to clients. Just by nature of the overall increase in utilization of interior design services, and the not insubstantial percentages of people utilizing a designer to execute a complete remodel, space planning, project management, etc., I think we can safely say that these people recognize the existence and value of the skills of a professional designer. With a more than threefold increase in the utilization of design services, it’s probably safe to say that the utilization 0f these more extensive services has increased similarly, along with the increase in use of more decorative services.
    Now, if these designers had not been competent, just how many building permits do you think would have been issued for the remodeling work that they specified? And how many of their clients would have been “very satisfied” with their work?
    Not too many.(AGAIN MERE SPECULATION ON YOUR PART)
    So, we have an increasing number of highly intelligent and succcesful people hiring interior designers to provide a very broad scope of services, including extensive remodelling, and even ASID says that on the whole, they are indeed “very satisfied” with the work of these designers.
    So why does ASID still claim we need legislation? To protect people from… what? Being already satisfied with the work of the designers they obviously already know how to successfully select and hire?
    We need licensing and credentialing, then, for… what, exactly?(THERE YOU GO LUMPING CREDENTIALING IN WITH LICENSING…THEY ARE TWO SEPARATE AND UNIQUE MODELS TO VALIDATE PROFESSIONAL STATUS. YOU AND YOUR CRONIES CONTINUE TO CASTIGATE THE ENTIRE PROFESSION WHILE AT THE SAME TIME CLAIMING A BIRTHRIGHT TO THAT VERY PROFESSION….YOU CAN NOT BE A “PROFESSIONAL” WITHOUT A PROCESS BY WHICH TO CLAIM PROFESSIONAL STATUS. ELIMINATE THE PROFESSIONAL QUALFICATION PROCESS AND YOU ELIMINATE THE PROFESSION. WHAT PART OF THIS CONTRADICTION IS UNCLEAR?)
    And let’s not forget that Michael S. Smith, one of the most talented, successful, and celebrated interior designers (HE IS THE EPITOMY OF AN INTERIOR DECORATOR…AND HE IS NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING WITH THE WHITE HOUSE THAT EVEN REMOTELY RESEMBLES “INTERIOR DESIGN”) of our times, has been hired by no less a client than President and Mrs. Obama to redo the White House. He’s not licensed, not a member of ASID, did not graduate from any kind of design school, etc. And yet, somehow, he’s still good enough for the President of the United States, and apparently no one in the current administration believes that in any way the lives, health, or safety of the President or his family will be at risk, as Michael Alin, the current president of ASID, not-so -subtly suggested in his presumptuous January 2009 letter to the First Couple in Interiors & Sources.
    Methinks that his ability to keep the First Family safe will have been scrutinized down to the nth degree by the people responsible for keeping them safe and sound, and clearly he has been found competent, by what is most like the most excruciatingly detailed examination any designer(DECORATOR) anywhere is likely to have to face.
    If an unlicensed, uncredentialled designer who did not complete any form of professional formal schooling is good enough for the White House, then why aren’t they good enough for everyone else?(BECAUSE HE IS AN INTERIOR DECORATOR CLAIMING TO BE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER..AND THE DECORATOR CROWD HAS NOMINATED HIM FOR SAINTHOOD….LOL)
    So what is it, ASID? Are consumers satisfied with the current offerings and way of doing things or not?
    Because if you are going to still crow about how unsophisticated consumers are, how much they need to be protected from the consequences of allegedly uninformed opinions and the clutches of designers who have no clue what they are doing, then why are you also reporting unprecedented levels of satisfaction with this very group of people you want to regulate?
    Which of these opinions/groups of facts are actually true? Because you are speaking with forked tongue to promulgate both opinions, which completely contradict one another. (BLACK KETTLE, MEET BLACK POT)
    If, indeed, consumers really are already satisfied, then what’s wrong that actually needs to be changed?
    The fact of the matter is that the system ain’t broke, folks. It doesn’t need fixing. It’s just fine the way it is.(DEPENDS WHAT SYSTEM YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT)
    People who want to be able to highlight their educations and experiences should be allowed to voluntarily, like we do it here in CA. There’s no need to require this kind of validation – and multiple studies by both the Institute for Justice, the Reason Foundation, and others have repeatedly shown this.
    It’s time to end this nonsense of endless attempts to regulate this profession – an effort that has met with spectacularly little success, despite more than 30 years of attempts to pass legislation to control what we do and who is allowed to do it. Legislators as a group aren’t stupid, either. Over and over again, ASID and its legislative coalitions in many states have met with spectacular failure to convince the majority of them that there is any compelling need whatsoever to regulate this profession in any way, despite millions and millions of dollars (of members’ dues money!) being poured into exactly this effort.(HEY WE AGREE HERE TOO!)
    In just the past year alone, something like nearly 60 attempts have met with crashing failure to convince legislators that there is any value whatsoever in regulating interior designers, and in just a little more than that time frame, successful Constitutional challenges to existing laws in at least three states have been mounted, striking down several such laws as completely unconstitutional.
    Thirty years of failure – and yet these people persist. Think about it. (BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE A BETTER MODEL FOR PROFESSIONAL VALIDATION…BUT THEY WILL)
    The definition of insanity is widely held to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Why won’t these people learn from their own endless failures? (OHH SO NOW WE ARE INSANE….SO WHAT IS YOUR POINT?)
    And why won’t they look at the results of their own studies showing that consumers are already highly satisfied with the way things are?
    It boggles the mind, and only reinforces the obvious conclusion that this is nothing but a cartelization effort of a small group of people who are hoping to keep a bigger piece of a growing pie for their own selves, and to shut out the competition (OH I DON’T KNOW I LOOK AT MORE LIKE SHUTTING OUT THE INCOMPETENT….SELF PRESERVATION IS A B***H ISN’T IT?)

    Comment by Mike Dudek | June 2, 2009 | Reply

    • Just because you disagree with my conclusions and analysis, Mike, does not make them “conjecture”.

      And no, of course income is not the sole determinant of intelligence, but it really does not take a rocket scientist to realize that people who truly do not have a lot of it will never be especially successful. Successful people don’t get that way by being stupid, or unable to make at least reasonably informed choices about anything they do with their money.

      Although there are certainly some low income projects on which designers work, and we are all hopefully working to expand the public’s awareness that design is for everyone, and need not be hugely expensive, the reality is that the majority of design services are still rendered to high income people, and to businesses.

      As for building permits, do you mean to tell me that you think that they will be issued even if the plans submitted are incorrect and full of errors?

      Sorry, it’s *not* speculation at all that people who do not know what they are doing *will* make major errors, and those plans will *not* be approved.

      Unless, of course, there’s some under the table lining of the building inspectors’ pockets.

      If the interior design cartel doesn’t yet have a “better model for professional validation”, even after *30 years* of trying to get it right, just why do you think that may be?

      As to Michael S. Smith and other high profile designers, do *you* have the kind of clientele he has? The same kind of success and income?

      No?

      I didn’t think so.

      Could there be some professional jealousy here, perhaps?

      BTW, please do not copy entire posts to respond. Snippets as quotebacks for reference are acceptable, do not take up as much bandwidth, and are much easier to follow.

      Comment by Hoechstetter Interiors | June 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Wendy:

    Great material for future letters when fighting legislation. Thanks for all the hard work.

    Comment by Adrian Small (AIDP) | June 4, 2009 | Reply

  5. I could not hold a candle to Michael Smith’s decorating flair, nor would I want to. If you measure success by how much non-essential haute decoration one applies in a lifetime then not only are we not on the same page we are not on the same planet. Since you are a fan maybe you could tell me what Mr. Smith’s legacy, other than redecorating the white house..(once again) is? Okay lets see he makes lots of money from high net worth people who’s only goal in life is to outdecorate other high net worth indivduals in the hope that Architectural Digest might honor them with an article….yeah that there is something to be jealous of.

    Comment by Mike Dudek | June 5, 2009 | Reply

  6. YO ADRIAN
    Thanks for the heads-up. Yet another organization claiming professional status as interior designers….just because they can. Thats choice…

    I guess if you can’t join ’em beat ’em.

    Comment by Mike Dudek | June 5, 2009 | Reply

  7. Quoting Mike, “I could not hold a candle to Michael Smith’s decorating flair, nor would I want to.”

    Bitter-party of one…right this way.

    Mike, How does that saying go, you know the one…”those who cannot do tea…” naw, I can’t say it after all. I’ll leave the insults to you, since you do that so well.

    Comment by Laurie | June 5, 2009 | Reply

  8. As for Michael Smith – DUDEK – you may laugh at him, call him a decorator, act like you are oh so much better than him because you passed your little test, (as if Smith couldn’t pass it either), put him down – – – because why? again? why are you so much better, doing what, exactly? teaching what???? —ok, insert your little ASID talking points here: physiologically and psychologically supportive interior environments. Which is what? OH – tell us again, please :

    “The timing of interior design’s professionalization effort was unfortunate. Interior designers sought professional recognition at a time when the professions were focused on proving expertise and few were concerned with social compacts. As a result, the interior design profession has never articulated a social compact.” “It is our opinion that interior design’s social compact grows from the profession’s focus on meeting the needs of human users of interior environments and an ecological approach that will make sustainability possible,” interior designers focus on designing physiologically and psychologically supportive interior environments that enhance quality of life.”

    so let me get this straight – to understand where you are coming from – you are a teacher of young people who want to be DESIGNERS, OK – so let’s just say, for grins, say a young Michael Smith enrolled at, oh, let’s say U of Kansas and geez, he GRADUATED!!!! because he learned all about how to be sustainable in the 21st century!!!! Would he THEN be a DESIGNER? By your standards, he would be. By your standards anyone who graduates and passes the test, is a designer. Correct?

    But since Smith CHOSE not to go your route, he is someone worthy of your disdain???? Would his ability be any different if he graduated from U Of K because he leaerned about codes, and colors affect on sick children, and bacteria vs. fabric, and fire exit signage? I doubt it. His ability would be the same as it is now – phenomenal.

    So, lets say, Smith passed UK’s program and Smith then chose NOT to go into commercial design with his degree, but went into residential design – would he not be an object of your scorn because he had that degree? But would his abilities be any more or any less? Because, surely, I have NO doubt Smith could pass the I.D. course at UKansas, *wait let me quit laughing.*

    How DARE you judge Michael Smith’s abilities as a designer?

    Have you ever seen his furniture line he DESIGNED?

    Have you ever seen his fabric line HE DESIGNED?

    or this PLUMBING line he DESIGNED?

    or does he just DECORATE the furniture he designs?

    *wait, DUDEK – I need to really understand this, how is Smith a decorator and not a designer?* If he designs furniture and fabrics ( quite successfully too) but since he is not ASID or has not passed the test, he is not a designer? Do you then say – Jaspar furniture line decorated by Michael Smith? Am I the only one that finds this so hilariously funny?

    Dudek – you are really not helping your cause. You really sound stupid calling Michael Smith a decorator. You really do. He designs. He does not decorate. He designs. As do many thousands of other unlicensed interior designers out there. He designs houses – he designs rooms, he reconfigures the walls, the ceilings, the floors, the windows, the doors. He designs.

    Yet, God help him should he put his foot in Florida and call himself a designer. It would cost him plenty of money in fines and lawyer fees. Just ask Kelly Wearstler. She, too is a designer, not a decorator. She designs fabrics, she designed one of the most celebrated fabrics of the 2000s. She designs hotels. She reconfigures living spaces. She is not a decorator. Yet, Florida sued her because she dared to speak the truth of what she does. She designs. And she didn’t need a degree from the U of K to learn her trade. She was born with that talent. Just as Smith was.

    What you and your teaching staff and ASID don’t understand, is talented people are artists. They eschew rigid schooling. They chafe against the strict structure found in colleges. If the ASID wins this fight, they will forever be dumbing down the field. The most talented won’t be able to practice interior design. The only designers out there will be the ASID designers, who are by far, the most untalented bunch of designers I’ve ever seen. I suppose this is what ASID wants because they must know – they must see how little true talent they possess. The true talent designers pose a huge threat to them.

    You, and others like you, who have no true talent, otherwise you would be out there making money doing what you teach – you all want your little regulations to protect your fifedom.

    You and ASID are losing this battle. We are not all housewife decorators. I have no doubt that most of all the designers who have no degree could easily earn one. Which is really exactly the point. If you can be a successful designer without the degree and without passing the test, what good is it? Do you really think that the ability to create psychologically supportive interior environments is something that is so precious, so difficult that we couldn’t learn to do it and then disgard it when we don’t need it to earn a living? That IF we wanted to create that, we couldn’t?????

    Comment by Joni Webb | June 6, 2009 | Reply

    • Ah, but Joni, fabric and furniture and even plumbing – those are objects of decoration, don’tcha know! They don’t prove he’s an interior designer at all, because they don’t have anything to do with building codes! At least not in the residential market he designs for.

      What I don’t understand about Mike Dudek is that he himself is not a member of either ASID or IIDA, and claims he’s not in favor of legislation, but he still spouts the same party line they do, which is all about restricting practice.

      As to design school, I certainly learned some useful things, but for the most part, I found it utterly stifling. They tried to shuttle me into a tiny little box, producing the kind of things they wanted me to do, and smacked me down when I rebelled and refused to go there because it was too constricting. Virtually everything I know that’s of any real practical use, I learned on my own through a lifetime of being around this industry in one way or another, or by taking courses at other schools, or electives that should have been required in my program but were not, not to mention a whole lot of continuing education and extensive reading on my own. Somehow, though, despite my not sticking around to finish the degree, my contractors tell me that my drawings are orders of magniture better than most of what they see from other designers who’ve got upwards of 20 years’ experience, and I’m getting nothing but great feedback when I show my work to both prospective clients and other designers and architects.

      And who gets to decide what constitutes “physiologically and psychologically supportive interior environments that enhance quality of life”? One designer I know of has a quote from a client on her website to the effect that the client never wants to go out any more, never wants to eat out, never even wants to go play golf because she is so enamored of her home, because it is obviously so completely supportive of her and her life that she doesn’t feel she needs anything else. Who gives a rat’s patoot what the background of the designer is when a client feels that way about their work?

      Perhaps Professor Dudek doesn’t count people who find enhanced enjoyment and comfort in their homes and offices just because someone without a degree and his almighty credentials designed it. Perhaps he doesn’t understand that there’s a heck of a lot more to creating that environment than all the technology and codes, that indeed it is the furniture construction, fabric quality, and many more “decorative” elements that contribute just as much as making sure the rooms are all laid out in a logical fashion, that the latest technology is used, etc. Perhaps it doesn’t count in his world if it’s not impacted by building codes – ie; if it’s residential and not commercial. I’ve noticed that many design school instructors are highly biased in the direction of commercial design, an attitude they often infect their students with, that somehow it’s “better” to be a commercial designer than a residential designer, and that’s the only way you can be a “designer” instead of “Betty Decorator”.

      There are many very talented ASID designers, but I could also point you to a whole lot of websites of ASID members, and others having other kinds of credentials of the sort that Dudek believes are all that separate a designer from a decorator, and you would have a heart attack knowing that these people have been unleashed on the public. I won’t post that information publically, but we all know many of these examples. And yet, the Michael Smiths of the world are somehow “less than” these people with the degrees and credentials? God help us all.

      No, we are not all housewife decorators, but even the ones who are deserve to have a chance to make an honest living. The people who would hire them are not the market I work in, or you. There’s room for us all.

      And this whole debate over the terminology is ridiculous. The only term in use for anyone in our field up until about 20 years ago *was* “decorator” – after “architect”, of course, which came first. Yes, there’s a difference between what a person we in the industry currently consider a “decorator” and a “designer” do, but when you get right down to it, it’s still really just a semantic difference, and “decorating” is a subset of interior design, and still absolutely part of it. And according to dictionary definitions, they are identical. Some of the finest designers I’ve ever known still call their own selves “decorators”, despite the fact that they are clearly “designers” in every possible sense of the word – including also happening to be ASID members. The difficulty in separating out the two notions has been made abundantly clear by the various legislative attempts to define them. There is just not a clearcut dividing line we can point to that separates “decorating” from “design” – not even the code issues.

      Oh, and Mike? I’m definitely eligible for all of the credentials we are talking about. If I had thought to document more of my work before a year or so ago in some way that I could prove I’d done it, I’d already have them.

      I’ve taken extensive coursework on codes and specs that wasn’t even required of the architecture students in my school, never mind the interior architecture students like me, yet should have been. I keep up on continuing education on a wide range of topics, despite the fact that I’ve got no credentialling requirements to do so. I grew up in this industry, so I’ve never not been around it. And I’ve worked for a very gifted designer, who saw fit to tell everyone in town that I was going to be the next great designer, and gave me a heck of a lot of responsibility right from the start of my employment with him, on some extremely high profile projects. The documentation of my completion of CAPS certification will hit my mailbox any day. So I’m not coming from the sour grapes point of view that you’ve been accusing me of, nor am I “Betty Decorator” – and I know damn well what I’m talking about.

      And what I see is a whole lot of people in a profession who feel left out of… something… just because they’ve never figured out how to make themselves seem legitimate in the eyes of others. They act like pouty children in their demands, in their reporting of others who are getting more accolades than they are to authorities in states that have legislation, etc.

      The most successful I know or know of never have anything to do with ASID or IIDA, and aren’t out there arguing about any of this, and unfortunately, for the most part, they’re certainly hot teaching, either. The only people I know who are either trying to get legislation passed or moaning and groaning about the difference between designers and decorators as if their lives depended on others understanding that distinction are the ones who, generally speaking, have not been successful, and whose work truly sucks, or is mediocre at best. That’s not true across the board, of course, but regardless, there is just no way that brute force and *demanding* recognition and legitimacy are going to work – especially in an occupation where pretty much *no one* who is a prospective or past client gives a rat’s ass *what* we call ourselves, or even how we were trained, as long as they like our work, and we can bring a project in on time and on budget.

      Comment by Hoechstetter Interiors | June 6, 2009 | Reply

  9. OUCH! That hurt my feelings…….NOT!

    Those that can do.
    Those that can’t teach.
    Those that want to make a difference also teach.

    My students graduate with no other charge than to practice a sustainable lifestyle and to leave the world a better place. That is all.

    If I have to explain what constitutes physiologically and pshychologically supportive environments that enhance quality of life, you obviously do not understand.

    You guys are welcome to continue to obfuscate the terminology if it makes you feel better about what you do.
    It is a free country.

    Comment by Mike Dudek | June 8, 2009 | Reply

    • Yes, it’s true that those who want to make a difference also teach. Teaching is a noble profession that is unfortunately much maligned, and because of ridiculously low pay rates, often tends to drive away the best and the brightest, and burns almost all teachers out eventually. The best often leave and go on to industry or other professions, where they can be more fairly compensated for their skills. Actually making a valuable difference also doesn’t always follow from just wanting to do so.

      Our country would be much better off if we were to return to the values that existed when we were growing up, respecting the teaching profession, and compensating teachers fairly enough to encourage the the most talented in every occupation to make it their career. The fact that we’ve gotten our national values mixed up so that teachers are at the bottom of the pay scale instead of closer to the top is one of the major reasons the US has fallen so far behind other industrialized nations in every field of study, now trails all other first world countries in the quality of health care provided, and actually leads the pack in infant mortality rates. Our schools have been dumbed down beyond all recognition, at all levels, and in many cases, have turned into little more than daycare centers, even on the college level. Most of my young design school classmates couldn’t put together a proper sentence or paragraph to save their lives, and had rudimentary vocabularies that I would have been embarrassed to have been limited to by the time I reached 4th grade. If any of the instructors even noticed, they sure never said anything.

      It is a national disgrace that any college or university should have to offer such classes as remedial reading, which I’ve observed at a surprising number, including some reasonably well-respected institutions – including your own (EDSEC 050 – Developmental Reading Laboratory – “Improves the college student’s study strategies, comprehension, and time management skills”). Please. If a student hasn’t learned basic reading comprehension by the time they go off to college, there is something terminally wrong with the whole system.

      If a student manages to still graduate college with the degree of illiteracy I saw in some of my classmates, and and lacking even the ability to follow directions on the basic program for a project, then it is his teachers all along the path who have failed him. And when one observes the very instructors making grievous grammar errors, contradicting their own selves, and unable to consistently formulate coherent thoughts that are logical, then we definitely know where the problem is coming from.

      So, yes, teaching can be a very important role. It should be.

      The very best teachers teach students how to think for themselves, particularly in creative fields. They teach as well as model how to seek out and evaluate disparate sources of information, how to look at all sides of an issue and formulate their own opinions once they have all of the facts, not just one single point of view. They teach how to filter and synthesize, not just how to parrot back whatever they are told by rote by the faculty, newspapers, professional organizations, or anyone else.

      It’s easy to use teaching as a platform for disseminating one’s own particular point of view to the exclusion of all else, but much more difficult to teach students how to learn and assess information for themselves, and to encourage the kind of analysis, discourse, and creative work that includes dissent with the teacher’s own perspective and way of doing things – breaking the rules effectively, if you will. Very few teachers are able to get their own egos out of the way enough to allow students who are more original thinkers than they to spread their wings, and to encourage them to fly beyond the teacher’s own abilities. Very few people are capable of the sort of teaching that really brings lasting change to the world, and fosters true brilliance and originality in their students.

      And even fewer teachers have any professional training in how to teach effectively, or how to fairly evaluate their students’ work, especially on the university level. For too many, it’s publish or perish, and the students get lost in the shuffle to top it all off.

      So, which kind of teacher are you, Mike?

      Comment by Hoechstetter Interiors | June 8, 2009 | Reply

  10. I hope you can meet some of my students someday…they will give you the real skinny. As one of the top ranked ID undergrad programs in the US K-State ID has a limited selective admissions process so we accept some of the best and brightest. Each time I face the incoming sophomore class (I do not teach freshmen) for the first time I admit that there are several students in the class that are smarter than I am. I then offer them a wager that if they hear of another faculty member making the same admission that I would pay that person $100.00. I then explain that they may in fact be smarter than I am but I know more about design than all of them combined. I did not voluntarily cut our household income 50% to take a job where I could slack-off or impose my ego. I wanted to teach because I truly believe that design can improve peoples lives and/or livliehoods. I also realize that if 1/3 of our graduates actually pursue a design career then we are lucky. It is the other 2/3rds that I want to influence to be the change that they want to see in the world..regardless of what they do. Will my students be gung-ho proponents of ID legislation? I actually do not know. As I said I give them all sides of the story and since I do not support legislation as a method to advance the profession they may actually be anti-regulation. But I can tell you that they, like me, do not look lightly on anyone who might denigrate an accredited degree in interior design. This is actually our only bone of contention Ms Hoeschstetter…you are welcome to abolish ID legislation in all 50 States and Puerto Rico. I have no qualms endorsing that effort. If you would just admit that legislating ID and advancing ID via education/experience and examination are two completely distinct models of professional advancement we would not be having this discussion. Since many interior decorators are not willing to abdicate the term interior designer I believe this whole issue can easily be addressed by creating 2 distinct career path options- interior design and certified/accredited interior design. We’ll see if ASID/IIDA have the fortitude to admit that the legislative model for professional advancement is broke. The education part….well you will just have to waste me or wait until I retire. But by then hopefully my students will be in a position to continue the effort.

    Comment by Michael Dudek | June 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Mike, if you’re that kind of instructor, then my hat’s off to you for that.

      I never have and never would deny the value of education or experience. I do not believe, however, that that “three E’s” approach is the *only* way to learn what we do as designers. I know, and know of, far too many superbly gifted designers, many with decades of experience, who never set foot in a formal training program, or left it before graduating.

      As for examination, I know of too many problems with the NCIDQ to believe that it is very useful for anything, and I find the very idea of examination of the creative side of design to be ludicrous.

      I’m all in favor of people who have the educational credentials having a means of promoting them, if they wish – as long as it’s voluntary. The problem with advocating the “three E’s” on general principles is that that *is* the same logic the pro-legislation people use, and set of requirements they want to etch in stone.

      Comment by Hoechstetter Interiors | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  11. This is a very interesting blog, I am not a Interior Designer but I have been very close to the trade due to the fact I have been in the painting business and deocrative arts for over 30 years and now I am finding myself going into the instructional and educational part of the arts by starting to teach decorative art as well as mural and canvas painting, due to the fact at 50 years old its getting harder to climb lol. I frequent many forums and social sites and came across this one and have to say that there is better subject matter here than most I have seen when it comes to the trade and I am glad I found it.
    I hope I could be of assistance here if anyones has any tech questions and needs some help …..I would like to contribute any time……

    Comment by Arthur | June 28, 2009 | Reply


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