Monday, January 28, 2008

Design Drama

Lately there has been a kerflap over legislation proposed here in Washington State regarding the professional licensing of Interior Designers.

To catch you up:
Designer have often battled a reputation as 'Dolly Decorators' when, in fact, the truth is quite different. The outdated image of a rich housewife who has a 'knack' for decorating is long gone.

Designers are involved in many different facets of work that affects both residential and commercial situations - which often requires years of training and experience.

Here's what's happening:
The ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) is proposing legislation to licence the profession of interior design.

They feel that other professions, like architecture, accounting, doctors, etc. all require this and that design should have professional practices and standards also that require testing and peer acceptance and continuing education.

Who can argue with that?

Unfortunately, I am. Why? Because I feel they are going much too far in their restrictions, and it affects the kind of service we offer our customers here at Daly's. There is no room for compromise the way the bill is written, and that's the problem.

For example, Daly's would no longer be able to offer in-home services. We would be able to help customers choose paint colors, window treatments, etc. only within the confines of our doors, but we wouldn't be able to meet our customers in their homes, under their own lighting conditions, to help them make appropriate choices.

And that is a problem for our customers and having the ability to give them the best service we can.

There has got to be room for us all.

I also think that there are many consumers of home and design products that do not feel comfortable hiring a 'credentialed' designer - or even need their services. Overkill, if you will. Why is the act of choosing a paint color or making some window treatment decisions requiring an accredited professional? This would most certainly cost the consumer more money and effort to hire them, as well.

I find this very upsetting, because I don't disagree with many of their viewpoints, just the sledgehammer approach - I do think professional standards are important, especially in commercial situations. And I do think that those designers who want to reach the highest level of recognition in their field should have those professional options available to them. But the argument of safety just doesn't fly with that type of design my staff participates in! That's the rub.

Well, the designer fur is sure to fly!

Interesting reading:
http://www.wa-ppdf.org/
www.idcwashington.org/

5 comments:

kristi hanna said...

Hi Robin,

As a board member with IDCW, and a designer focusing mostly in commercial design this type of bill would impact the type of work I do on a daily basis. We definitely understand the diverse nature of the interior design industry and realize that not everyone wants to reach the highest level of certification in our field or offer public/commercial design services. We've had quite a challenge to make sure the bill language does not intentionally put designers in our state out of business.

Unfortunately to most, the bill language is confusing so let me attempt to show you that the design services your staff participates in would still be allowed under the practice act. You would not be limited to offering services within your business or office; rather you would still be able to meet customers in their homes.

Direct from the current bill language: [Sec. 10 (2)]
This chapter does not apply to an employee of a retail establishment providing consultation regarding interior decoration or furnishings on the premises of the retail establishment or in the furtherance of a retail sale or prospective retail sale, providing such persons do not refer to themselves as a registered interior designer.
This chapter does not apply to a person who provides decorative services or assistance in selection of surface materials, window treatments, wall coverings, paint, floor coverings, surface-mounted fixtures, and loose furnishings not subject to regulation under applicable provisions of jurisdictional codes, regulations, or the jurisdictional fire codes, providing such persons do not refer to themselves as a registered interior designer.

To sum that up, as long as the design services you offer do not need to be submitted/reviewed by the building department, you do not need to be a Registered Interior Designer or have a Registered Interior Designer on staff to perform those services.

If you have additional questions or comments, feel free to contact me directly. khanna (at) gglo (dot) com

Thanks,
Kristi Hanna
IDCW VP of Allied Organizations

emily moses said... said...

I also want to address Robin's statements. As a board member of IDCW, and an independent designer (not associated with ASID or IIDA) I'm concerned when people think that ASID has introduced this legislation. IDCW introduced legislation. IDCW has members that are ASID, IIDA, NKBA, AIA and independent (like me). We work with these organizations, but do not work for them.

As the bill pertains to your work, I do not believe you'd be restricted from going to a clients home and offering your services, as you'd be under the blank of your company, a retail establishment (which is exempt, per the bill language). The selection of surface materials (ex.paint) are not subject to code review in residential design (again exempt per bill language).

As a designer I use and specify Daly's paint, and love the product. I wouldn't be apart of something that would hinder that business.

Sincerely,

Emily Moses
IDCW VP Communications

Blue J said...

Hi Robin.

I'd like to start by saying IDCW is listening, and we appreciate your commentary. We're hoping through our responses that you'll begin to understand that there is, in fact, an exemption for you in our bill. Daly's would be able to continue to offer in-home services, help clients choose paint colors, window treatments, etc, in your store or in their home.

You are correct that there are many consumers of home and design products that don't feel comfortable hiring a credentialed designer. This legislation isn't intended to change that: it IS intended to help consumers make a choice. The consumer can decide what's best for their own purposes. Our legislation will provide a benchmark, but won't be for everyone.

There is room for compromise in the way the bill is written, and as evidence of this, we've already suggested several edits to the original bill based on feedback we've received. The more constructive dialog we have with people, the more understanding we all have. We want to reduce the fear that's out there.

You clearly understand the design profession and our quest to elevate standards for those that want to follow that path. We hope what you've heard will change your mind on design legislation: if so, please let your readers know!

Thank you for your time and concern on this issue.


Jackie Hanson, ASID
Past President, IDCW

Anonymous said...

Why on earth do we need any more legislation?

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