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.

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

AIP Officials Sweep Student Coercion Under the Rug

The battle over AIPs coercive assignment to lobby legislators in support of Pennsylvania HB 1521 heats up, fueled by public outrage and president George Pry and interior design department chair Kelly Spewock’s assertions that no coercion was used.

Both administrators continue to claim that students were given equal opportunity to oppose legislation and to earn equal credit for that, despite confirmations from several students who personally objected to the assignment, and the opposition movement’s receipt of a copy of the actual assignment, confirming the original allegations of instructor Laura Musulin’s clearly stated attempt to force students to support her own political agenda.

AIP claims the Institute has no official policy on the legislation, but they are clearly not ensuring that this policy is adhered to by the faculty, if it is indeed the case, and have not said they’ve done anything to correct the situation. Instead, they now state that they consider the matter closed.

This type of behavior is a serious compromise of academic integrity, regardless of the political position being promoted, and seriously calls into question whether or not such coercion may be being used with students in other disciplines, and in other institutions.

Clearly, AICAD (the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design), which is one of the most important national accrediting bodies for institutions of higher learning specializing in the arts agrees, as president Bill Barrett weighs in with his response to IDPC postings.

Could AIP lose its accreditation if they continue to show signs of supporting this kind of outrageous behavior? I would suggest that perhaps they should.


From IDPC:

Interior Design Protection Council

AIP officials sweep interior design coercion under the [designer] rug.

In a letter responding to multiple requests from IDPC requesting action on an inappropriate assignment, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh has indicated that they consider the matter resolved and are not open to further discussion.

We disagree. Click here to read press release and IDPC letters to AIP.


June 23, 2009 Posted by | Pennsylvania, Students | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IIDA Student Blog Censors Legislative Map Correction Post

6/8/09 Update – I was contacted by IIDA about this post, told I’m not blocked from commenting on the blog, and was invited to repost my comments – see comments below.  My apologies to IIDA if I was in error about that, but my comments about the problems with the out-of-date map still hold.


I just tried to post the message below on the IIDA Student Blog about the out of date IIDA map of design legislation (same as the one ASID uses) and it got rejected. Not just rejected, as in not posted, but it brought up a “discarded” error message the moment I posted it, which means they’ve got the blog set to automatically reject any postings from me.

Why are these people so afraid of what we post about opposing design legislation?

Oh, wait, that’s right – the pro-legislation cartel doesn’t have a shred of evidence to back up their position, so they have to try to shut up those of us who can back up ours, so that their unsuspecting members aren’t diverted and won’t see that the emperor truly has no clothes.

What’s more, it’s apparently an intern at IIDA who’s running this blog – clearly a student herself – even though she has apparently declined to name herself or put up a bio. She menti0ned the fact in this post, though. What does she know about the realities of all of this?

Sweetheart, you need to grow up, get a life, and learn that informed decisions can only be made when people are aware of all of the issues, on both sides of the matter. Censoring the opposite point of view like this only demonstrates a small, closed mind, and that will not get you far in life. That is also a favorite tactic of the fearful who know they don’t have a leg to stand on.

But students (and others) need this information, even when their own peers as well as their instructors are trying to snowball them and keep them from learning both sides of the issue and the truth.

The proper role of education is to inform, teach students how to learn and reason for themselves, and to draw out their own conclusions, based on all available information. It is not to censor one point of view in favor of another, to attempt to restrict a students’ access to information they need in order to be able to formulate their own thoughts.

Students, you really need to demand that your schools and instructors not only allow but encourage the dissemination of information on both sides of this issue. Once you read the facts, you will discover that things are not nearly as cut and dried as the pro-legislation cartel would like you to believe. Follow the links on this blog on on the IDPC website, read everything you can, including every word of any legislation proposed in your own states, and the first-hand reports of people who have been harmed by this kind of legislation, and then make up your own mind.

And if neither IIDA nor ASID keep their legislative maps up to date, and neither are willing to admit it when their pet laws and legislative attempts are defeated, as they mostly have been, then how can you trust anything else they tell you on this subject?

Far and away the majority of allied members of ASID who have bothered to fully inform themselves have concluded that legislation will not only not benefit them, but will only harm them and put them out of business – what makes you think that you will fare any better right out of school?


Why does IIDA persist in posting this out of date map? Among other things:

1. The Alabama practice act was struck down as unconstitutional in 2007 –

2. The New Mexico title act was also struck down as unconstitutional –

3. The Oklahoma title act has been amended so that anyone can still use the tile “interior designer” –

4. The proposed Tennessee practice act legislation was withdrawn due to opposition, and is thus no longer pending –

5. The list goes on.

Please see the IDPC website at and the No Design Legislation blog at for more details on these and other states, and to keep up on the most recent changes, as they happen, complete with links directly to the actual sources, actual text of proposed and existing laws as well as judicial opinions, etc., where you can read it all for yourself, right from the horse’s mouth.

June 5, 2009 Posted by | ASID, IIDA, New Mexico, Students | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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 | 4 Comments