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