ASID President on Interior Design Education, Legislation

Although the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) concurs with the majority of Shashi Caan’s comments about interior design education and the legal recognition of the profession, I was troubled to read her statements about the proposed interior design title act in New York State. [“Why Shashi Can is Overhauling Interior Design Education”] Ms. Caan said, “In New York state, we have a voluntary certification, which is step one. So I can pay a fee, get a state license and call myself a certified interior designer. I don’t have to be trained in interior design. I don’t have to be trained in anything.” This is untrue. In New York, under the current title act, an individual must have a total of seven years of education and experience, with at least two years of formal education in interior design, and pass the NCIDQ examination to be considered for certification by the state’s board of interior design.

ASID supports the grassroots movement to enact the proposed New York interior design title act, as it restricts the use of the terminology “interior design” or “interior designer.” Despite Ms. Caan’s claim, the bill is far from dead: it has been reintroduced in both the state house and senate, where it passed unanimously in both chambers last year. The Society also is doing its part to educate Gov. Pataki about the importance of passage of the bill and legal recognition of the interior design profession.

Mr. Nereim writes that interior design professional legislation “is actually a rank attempt at trade protectionism.” [” Interior Design Shouldn’t Be an Exclusive Field of Knowledge”] What about architecture, which is regulated in all 50 states? Why is this instance of professional regulation not “trade protectionism?” Is it because Mr. Nereim believes that the regulation of architecture is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public? ASID agrees. It is shortsighted to state that the regulation of interior design is not equally as vital to the protection of the public. Interior design is more than the decoration of aesthetically pleasing spaces; it is about the creation of safe and healthy interior environments that meet the specialized needs of their occupants. The creation of such environments requires the involvement of professionals with education and training in the unique body of knowledge of interior design. Because of this need, regulation of interior design is necessary.

Mr. Nereim also states that legislation restricts innovation. ASID disagrees. All design professions at their core are grounded in innovation and creativity. The job of the state legislatures is to balance the need for innovation against what is best for the public.

Let’s keep this discussion ongoing. Differences of opinion are to be expected, but vocalizing these opinions via a source like causes us to think—and thinking leads to eventual action.

Anita Baltimore, FASID
American Society of Interior Designers

Categories: Design Education, Uncategorized