No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

Why Design Legislation is Bad for Students

Laws regulating the practice of interior design and restricting it to those who have met the pro-legislation cartel’s narrow standards are not in the best interests of the profession as a whole, and particularly not those of current or future students.

According to renowned kitchen design expert Dr. Phyllis Markussen, CKE, CBE, who is a professor of Family Studies and Interior Design at the University of Nebraska, interior design legislation could have a significantly negative effect on interior design students, because the one path route to practice that would result would “effectively ‘dumb down’ the educational programs by creating too-rigid guidelines”.

It is advantageous in academia to provide a “system-approached” education, bringing in a range of other disciplines to help provide students a “broader, more global perspective”. To restrict the practice of interior design to those who have graduated only from CIDA-accredited schools (which do not even include some of the most prestigious schools of design in the country, such as Parsons), would eliminate that opportunity by “…[narrowing] the approach with a single educational experience”.

In addition to homogenizing the educational offerings, specialization could be restricted as well, which could result in a shortage of designers to meet the needs in any given state. This is also because there simply won’t be enough qualified designers around to shepherd the students through the state-mandated process to being able to practice independently.

According to AICAD (Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design), “We need multiple pathways into creative fields due to their varied and dynamic natures… Society does not benefit by a narrowing of access to creative fields. ”

Far more schools are not CIDA-accredited than are, which would result in CIDA having a virtual monopoly on interior design education, with zero evidence that the CIDA schools have any better record of preparing students than any other programs. A situation such as this would not benefit anyone but those CIDA-approved, programs and the various organizations that support them.

The effects on other academic institutions are readily obvious – the net result would be discrimination against community colleges in particular, and their student bodies.

In addition, if there aren’t enough jobs for students when they graduate (and there already aren’t, particularly thanks to the present economy), then demand for these programs will decrease, which in turn will force a number of colleges and universities to restrict *all* of their offerings. Some programs will have to shut down altogether, leaving existing students high and dry, and effectively eliminating interior design as a career option at all for many who would have otherwise chosen this path.

Finally, and most importantly, students are being fed a line that they will not be able to practice what they are trained to do without design legislation, but a simply look at the present realities will show that to be untrue. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of interior designers are not licenced/registered/certified, even in states that do have some form of either practice or title act, and yet they are still working and still getting their projects built, the same as they always have.

As I wrote in my post “It Doesn’t Involve Me – Or Does It?”:

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.

Interior design legislation has been proven over and over again to be a solution in search of a problem. If passed, it will only create the very problem it claims it will prevent. In states that do not presently have any category of “registered design professional”, legislation will create that category – and then restrict the practice of design to those that hold those credentials, where it has never been restricted before.

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?

Over and over again, this issue has been pointed out to the prolegislation cartel – and in front of legislators, who have been shown the actual code wording, as it’s been pointed out to the cartel people at the same time – and yet these people persist in repeating this blatant untruth, and particularly using it to frighten students into thinking they have no choice but to support legislation, when nothing is actually further from reality.

IDPC puts it most succinctly: “The IBC (Sec. 106.1) does NOT require that all construction documents be prepared by registered design professionals. What it actually says is the following: [C]onstruction documents shall be prepared by a registered design professional where required by the jurisdiction in which the project is to be constructed.” (emphasis added). The IBC defers completely to state law as to whether or not construction documents must be prepared by an architect or an engineer or may be prepared by anyone else including interior designers.”

And now, with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh scandal, we see again the lengths to which these people will go in order to accomplish their ends – faculty members of a design school coercing students into supporting the pro-legislation agenda whether they wanted to or not by giving an extra credit assignment that only offered credit to those who wrote to their legislators to support legislation, and no credit at all to those who wrote to oppose it.

Students, if legislation is brought into academia at all, you deserve an education that teaches you how to research all sides of the issue and make decisions like this for yourself. You deserve as much credit for your work in doing this and opposing legislation, if that is how you feel, if such an assignment is given, as any student who chooses to support it. For an instructor to coerce students into supporting his or her own political ends or risk their grade and academic standing is a violation of academic integrity and standards that is utterly shameful.

This is only one case that we know about. It’s anyone’s guess how many other instructors or schools might be doing the same thing, or something similar.

And you should be asking yourselves, is this what you want your tuition and tax dollars to be funding?

If you don’t already know how to research and evaluate both sides of an issue that is going to dramatically affect you and your future, then you deserve to be taught how to do so, not be railroaded into one point of view or the other like this. You do not deserve to be used as pawns.

It is just flat out unfair and unethical to put students in a position like this where they may have to choose between their own values and their academic standing, and if you are not outraged by this, you should be.

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June 23, 2009 Posted by | ASID, Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), ncidq certification licensing, Nebraska, NKBA, Pennsylvania, Students | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tennessee Practice Act Withdrawn by Sponsor Due to Opposition!

From the Interior Design Protection Council:

SB 2078 is dead for this year!

<Members of the Tennessee design community:

Celebration is in order — the practice act will NOT threaten your livelihood this year! Your phone calls, emails, and visits to the Senators’ offices succeeded.

Rather than face the certain vote-down of his bill, the sponsor withdrew SB 2078 and put it into “General Sub[committee].” Here are the sponsor and TIDC lobbyist’s testimonial comments, along with our response. Continue reading

May 11, 2009 Posted by | ncidq certification licensing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TENNESSEE MEMBERS-HEARING ON DESIGN PRACTICE ACT JUST ANNOUNCED-IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED!

OPPOSE Senate Bill 2078 and House Bill 2016 – Interior Design Practice Act. Calls Needed NOW!

We have just learned that that interior design licensing bill has been put on notice for a hearing next Tuesday or Wednesday, April 21- 22 before the Senate Commerce Committee. We must act now to let the members of the Committee know that, especially in this difficult economic climate, no legislation should be considered that will impact your ability to do business in Tennessee.

AT ISSUE: A Design Practice Act which will: Continue reading

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Minnesota, ncidq certification licensing, New York, NKBA, Tennessee | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Is Your Interior Designer *Really* Putting Your Life at Risk?

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Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie went looking for dead bodies, and for an explanation for why the state of Florida launched a legal case against Younts. State regulators demand that she obtain a license, a license she says she doesn’t need, a license that could cost her six years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Do licensing laws protect consumers from death and destruction or, as the Interior Design Protection Council argues, do they protect licensed designers from competition? Should Younts be stripped of the career it took her decades to build? Should President Obama be worried about his interior designer, the unlicensed Michael Smith? Watch the documentary below, then you decide…

Written and produced by Ted Balaker. Director of photography is Roger Richards.

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Alabama, ASID, Florida, Georgia, Interior Design Legislation Opposition, Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), ncidq certification licensing, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ASID MEMBERS RESIGN IN PROTEST OF ASID LICENSING EFFORTS

We just received a copy of the letter below sent to ASID Headquarters. Thanks to the Interior Design Freedom Coalition http://www.interiordesignfreedom.org/blog.html for posting it.

Please see the links on this blog in the Interior Design Legislation Opposition section to the Interior Design Protection Council and the Interior Design Freedom Coalition for more information on licensing efforts and how to protect your real right to practice in your state, and how ASID efforts will put thousands of designers out of business.

=======================================================================================================
ASID RESIGNATIONS
-GROUP ONE-

December 19, 2008

Michael Alin, Executive Director
The American Society of Interior Designers
608 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, D.C., 20002

Dear Mr. Alin:

Over the last several years, we have watched as ASID has recklessly spent our dues and MANDATORY legislative assessments on a failed policy falsely proclaiming to “raise the level of the profession” and to cull what you have decided are the “real designers” from those not following the path you dictate. The legislation you support has requirements so restrictive that most designers would not be able to comply and will therefore be denied the right to practice.

Over and over… we have watched as ASID’s president, members and board repeatedly mislead their own ASID colleagues about the EFFECT of legislation on our right to practice, while currying support from the very designers who would be put out of business by your legislative actions. And we have listened as Allied Members were described as the “Cash Cows” of the organization – too stupid to understand that we were being used to fund our own demise.

Over and over… we have watched as ASID betrayed its own ethics to push its own agenda – an ego-driven agenda that has the potential to destroy more than half of its own membership.

Over and over… we have listened as ASID members said sweetly, “We’re not trying to put you out of business.” [Subtext: as long as you forego your practice to go back to school for at least 2 years, do a supervised internship with an NCIDQ certified designer – if you can find one who also happens to be hiring – and intern from two to five years while being paid virtually nothing; then if you have any money left, pay about $2000 to take step workshops, purchase study materials, and take and pass the NCIDQ test (which is rarely passed on the first attempt), and then prove to the satisfaction of your own competitors that you actually are a designer, and comply with any regulations they happen to write.] But nobody’s trying to put you out of business; after all, there’s grandfathering. And from what we’ve seen of the way “grandfathering” is often written into the legislation, that’s just as bogus a claim as the rest of the pro-legislation argument.

Legislators have told us that representatives (either ASID and/or IIDA members) have misrepresented the content, objectives and design support for their legislation while governors of four states have clearly understood it to be anticompetitive and protective.

In states where practice acts have been enacted, designers have suffered terribly – persecuted for what they have done successfully for years, sustaining huge fines and legal fees for miniscule “infractions” and in some cases, bankrupted and driven out of the state in order to earn a living.

Florida designers bear witness to the travesty of your actions, and we hear more and more from them every day. The disgraceful behavior of Florida ASID members who deliberately work to expose and report their own members, as well as others, and help to put them out of business tells us what we need to know about ASID as an organization and about how legislation really works to
destroy designers’ rights to practice. And Florida is not the only state where this happens or has happened: try Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Connecticut and others.

There are estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000 interior designers in practice in the U.S. today. ASID claims membership of only about 20,000 practicing designers, the majority of
whom don’t even care about “raising the level of the profession”. Many are not even aware of your legislative agenda. They just want to practice design successfully as they always have.

We have personally spoken to Allied designers all across the country, and have found the vast majority to be opposed to your actions. As we’ve said before: the only designers who benefit from your tactics are the so-called professional designers who have passed the NCIDQ – and those are few and far between.

You do not represent independent designers as you have claimed, hence the title independent. They don’t want ASID’s interference in their right to practice, and have told us that they resent ASID’s efforts to dictate policy in which they have no say. Even ASID members are not welcome to disagree with your policies as the invitation to the Arkansas conference clearly shows, where attendees were carefully vetted to make sure that there would be no discordant voices.

ASID HAS NO RIGHT AND NO MANDATE TO DICTATE TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DESIGNERS ALL ACROSS THIS COUNTY WHO WILL BE ALLOWED TO PRACTICE AND WHO WILL NOT. YOUR LEGISLATION IS BEING DEFEATED BECAUSE DESIGNERS DO NOT SUPPORT YOUR OBJECTIVES.

It is clear to us that ASID no longer advocates for all of its members. This is illustrated in the make-up of the board which is ponderously commercial, in the membership of your pro-legislation coalitions across the country, where the majority are often commercial designers and in your undue influence in the schools, where students are pushed toward architectural/commercial design and where residential design gets short shrift. Students have told us that ASID has misled them, pushing them into commercial/architectural design on the premise that jobs at the commercial or architectural firms would be awaiting them when they graduate, and that ASID would help them get those jobs.

Even before the economic downturn, commercial jobs were very hard to come by – by ASID’s own statistics, only 15% of the market – and the few students who manage to land those jobs do so without ASID’s promised-but too often undelivered assistance. Many students, unable to secure those jobs have wound up selling commercial furniture and other commercial products. And most residential designers cannot hire them, as designers who have, have told us that they can draft, but cannot do other things that are crucial to residential design.

ASID’s preferential conduct is also apparent in the way Allied Members are treated on the national website’s “Find a Designer” page, where potential clients searching for referrals are offered a choice of “Show Professionals Only” (listed as the default) vs. “Show All Practitioners” which they have to search for [note: this appears to just have been changed]. This is insulting and clearly shows a bias toward “professional” members, which is especially unjustifiable considering that many so-called “Professional” designers have never passed the NCIDQ test and have just been allowed in. Allied Members pay the majority of dues and mandatory legislation fees, are no less professional in their work, and do not deserve a lesser marketing effort than any other members.

Additionally, by promoting its single-entry method as the one true path to design, ASID has created a rift between practicing designers and those who take ASID’s EEE path, with the younger designers evincing rudely worded disrespect for their more experienced elders – a situation which is not conducive to job creation.

Interior Design is a creative field. Yet ASID is determined to legislate creativity out of it by restricting the many paths of entry into the field that have nurtured that creativity and vision for years, producing brilliant designers – down to one path that is engineered to produce – engineers.

In a failing economy such as this, ASID should be using all its resources to support and market designers, not to destroy them through legislation. And make no mistake, we completely understand your actions and your intent.

We are ashamed and deeply disappointed by this organization. We can no longer support a Society that deliberately destroys its own membership and endangers the future of design and designers in its unending desire for power and dominance. And because of your exclusive policies, we know there is no hope of changing the trajectory of your actions.

ASID had a slogan: PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO PRACTICE. You are, in fact, subverting your own raison d’etre by deliberately trying to destroy our right to practice. And that is unethical, unconscionable and unacceptable.

And so we are resigning.

Jacqueline Bazaar, #1533586, Pennsylvania
Margaret H. Benson, #1504190, Texas
Gayle Beyer, #1519494, Colorado
Loraine Brown, #1250453, Georgia
Christine Colman, #1534167, Washington
Ellen Fernandez, #1239917, Maryland
Diane Foreman, #61436, Oregon
Debbie Gersh, #1485135, Texas
Noreen Dunn Gottfried, #1502827, Pennsylvania
Carol Gumpert, 1550669, California
Karen K. Hartley, #75601, Georgia
Nancy Hartsing, #1559067, Arizona
Henrietta Heisler, #1859365, Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Kauermann, #97269, Pennsylvania
Nancy Phillips Leroy, #1231856, Pennsylvania
Christie Meehan, #1201627, Pennsylvania
Tonya Morrison, 1487732, Pennsylvania
Jayne Rosen, #78935, Pennsylvania
Rebecca Ruediger, #1250458, Missouri
Carly Sax, #1500172, Illinois
Anne-Marie H. Schimenti, #1504255, Florida
June Shea, #1486996, Virginia
Nadia T. Tanita, #1542001, Hawaii
Terri Temple, #18099, Connecticut
Mary Sue B. Wiedmer, #1215131, Pennsylvania

Resigned earlier this year for the above reasons:

Janice Onsa, Pennsylvania, former Allied Member
Diane Plesset, Oregon CMKBD, CID #5818, C.A.P.S., former ASID

cc: Bruce J. Brigham, President
Board of Directors:
Bruce Goff
Charrisse Johnston
Doug Hartsell
Lisa Henry
Mary G. Knopf
Rachelle Schoessler Lynn
Stephanie Clemons
Sybil J.B. Van Dijs
According to a survey by Interior Design Magazine as quoted in the New York Times, January 29, 1987

December 24, 2008 Posted by | California Designers Against Legislation (CADAL), Interior Design Legislation Opposition, Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), ncidq certification licensing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why ASID Membership is No Guarantee of Quality for an Interior Designer

Long before I became a designer myself, I believed that ASID membership was an indicator of quality and professionalism, and that one should only hire ASID designers. I grew up on the client side, and also around the professional side of the industry, with a father and uncle who were in the business, and was spoonfed this point of view for decades.

Then I went to design school myself, and joined ASID as a student member, and let’s just say that my opinion of the organization and its value to anyone, consumer or designer alike, took a serious nosedive for a lot of reasons.

In reality, ASID membership is only *one* way to demonstrate one’s qualifications to practice interior design – and it’s a pretty iffy one at that. Contrary to popular belief, and the hype that ASID aggressively promotes, entry standards for organizational membership are actually quite low, and in absolutely *no* way say anything about how good the designer actually is.

A very high percentage of current professional ASID members don’t have the educational background themselves that they are now touting as the prerequisite for being considered a “professional” and trying to foist off on everyone else as a minimum standard. Several years ago, when the entry requirements were changed, they grandfathered in everyone who was already a member who wanted to remain a member, pretty much based solely on how long they’d been in practice.

To join ASID at this point, all you have to do is have a couple of years of design education, fill out a form, and send in a large check along with a copy of your transcript to prove you put in some time – and to keep sending them big checks every year. There are no references required, no other validation of skills and qualifications.

To even be a full professional member, all you have to add is passing the NCIDQ, a certification test that has been widely challenged as not even validly testing the material it purports to test for, and which has a very high failure rate, at least in part because it simply does not test for much of relevance to most designers. Most of what the NCIDQ tests for relates to commercial design matters that most residential designers will never need to know – and the reality is that most ASID members are primarily residential designers. Until this year, 2008, there wasn’t even any requirement for supervised work experience to qualify to take this exam, so there have been no controls at all on the nature of the experience one has to have – or the quality of the work produced – in order to be eligible.

As we all know, any other form of certification, licensing, building codes, etc. also represents a lowest common denominator, and the reality is that the very best practitioners in every field have standards that *far* exceed the minimums set by professional organizations or even state licensing boards. Many of the very best practitioners eschew membership in these organizations for many reasons, including the fact that they fully recognize that membership in them is actually completely meaningless.

Yes, the most that membership in ASID proves is that the member meets a *minimum* standard – and in many cases, it doesn’t even prove that much! This is hardly any kind of proof of excellence that a consumer ought to rely on!

What’s more, if my experience in two different schools is any indication, the schools don’t even teach most of the material the NCIDQ purports to test for! If you want to learn how to be a good designer, you’ve got to be a real self-starter and do a lot of individual research and investigation, on an ongoing basis, reading voraciously on your own, going to CEU classes whether you’re required to or not for professional designations, asking lots and lots of questions of vendors, contractors, and other professional resouces. No degree can possibly prepare a person fully to practice in this profession – it’s sweat equity that builds the qualifications, just being out there in the trenches. Formal education can certainly be a good thing and add a lot, but it also often tends to seriously stifle creativity. Thus, it’s certainly no panacea and should not be a sole prerequisite for selecting a designer – nor should seeking one with professional designations that rely on such backgrounds. No list of initials following a person’s name can possibly indicate their dedication to excellence and ongoing learning, or their taste and ability to pull off whatever a client needs to have done – but careful interviewing of the prospective designer will certainly bring all of that out, as will checking their references and looking at their work.

In reality, there are many superb interior designers who you won’t find if you try to look them up through ASID – but you will certainly find them published in all the major magazines, creating the best rooms in local showhouses, working for the biggest and wealthiest clients – and through word of mouth when speaking with other clients who know good design and good designers when they see them.

It would be inadvisable to hire *any* designer you don’t already know something about without fully investigating their portfolio and references, and seeing if you just plain get along with them – the very same investigative process any well-informed consumer would follow when selecting *any* kind of professional to do work for them.

According to recent estimates, only about 10% of the ASID membership holds professional status in the organization – and that represents at most approximately 3% of all interior designers in the country. Design schools are graduating many, many more designers every year, though, and that’s not even counting the thousands who come to the industry through myriad other backgrounds that qualify them just as fully, if not more so, and clearly, most of them are *not* joining ASID. Even if you do decide to hire an ASID designer, you should still check them out thoroughly, so why limit your options so much?

The truth is that quality will show, with or without membership in organizations like ASID, and a client who decides to limit himself to ASID designers only may well miss out on finding the perfect designer for himself, just by looking at an extremely artificially-narrowed field of choices.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Interior Design Legislation Opposition, ncidq certification licensing | , , , , , | Leave a comment