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

CIDA College Coerces Student Support of Legislation

We recently became aware of a situation at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (PA) in which instructor Lauren Musulin offered an extra credit assignment to students in her Revit class if they lobbied legislators in PA in support of passage of proposed legislation HB 1521 – with extra points for getting two other people to also write letters supporting the bill as well – an assignment entitled “IDLCPA Support –

This same opportunity was not offered to students who oppose such legislation.  In fact, when a student who opposes legislation objected, she was not given an alternative opportunity to earn the same extra credit by another means.  When the student in question approached the instructor and requested an opportunity to “research and evaluate opposing views”, the instructor flat out denied her request.

This was nothing but a blatant, all-out effort on the part of one instructor to intimidate students into supporting her own political agenda, and to coerce her students into supporting her own legislative views, not to teach involvement in the legislative process.

When the Interior Design Protection Council published this information, department chair Kelly Spewock responded, alleging that “Ms. Musulin’s students had the opportunity to research and evaluate opposing views to this topic, among other projects that were not made available to you or your readers”, and claiming that the Institute does not take a particular position with respect to legislation.  Spewock claims that other extra credit opportunities were offered to students who did not want to support legislation, but has yet to specify what they were.  The specific assignment, to which the link above points, makes it very clear that no alternative option was, in fact, offered, as does the fact that the student who objected was denied other options.

It is an absolute disgrace that an academic institution should in any way attempt to coerce students into supporting any particular legislative position and make it part of their grade, and it should not take publishing the information on a nationally-distributed mailing list or blog to bring the situation to people’s attention to compel that faculty member to offer students other options.

To teach involvement in the legislative process by encouraging students to research the issues, formulate their own opinions, and to write to legislators in support of whatever their own conclusions lead them to support would be an entirely legitimate assignment – but not demanding that they support only the instructor’s own point of view or face loss of extra credit points.

What’s more, the assignment makes several completely false statements, including alleging that “only a registered design professional” may implement the IBC code provisions.  This is out and out untrue, as anyone who can read can verify for themselves on page 41 of the code.  This lie has been repeatedly promulgated all over the country, and is just as repeatedly refuted every time it rears its head, yet the cartel lumbers on, repeating it endlessly, as if so doing will actually make it true.

The assignment also implies to students that a “fair” legislative procedure involves ramming a bill through the process, and by claiming that it must “move quickly”, implies that there may be some deceptive practices involved that may deny the other side a fair hearing.

One could argue that such instruction isn’t even the point of a class in using a software program, too, which makes this all the more bizarre, because the assignment doesn’t even relate to the topic of the class!

Sadly, this is just one more example of the kind of underhanded tactics to which the pro-legislation cartel will stoop in order to promote their point of view.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), Pennsylvania | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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