As a professional interior designer for more than 20 years, I was disappointed to read the recent Huffington Post blog article about interior design. To summarize, the article was a one-sided commentary that mischaracterized both the interior design profession and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).
Code impacted spaces are regulated by the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design and have been since well before the law for design professionals was passed. It is completely inaccurate to suggest a private group is responsible for regulating what Florida law clearly defines as a public entity’s responsibility. Furthermore, it is important to correct the record on ASID involvement with interior design regulations and legislation anywhere in the country. ASID is the profession’s association representing all types of interior designers. In this role they exercise their First Amendment right to advocate for public policies affecting their profession. To that end, their advocacy efforts focus on policies that positively affect all interior designers regardless of whether they practice in the residential, commercial or public spaces.
A prime example of ASID government affairs efforts is Florida’s interior design law mentioned in the article. The article insinuates that both the statute and ASID are prohibiting individuals from practicing interior design. Not true. The reality is both exist to guarantee anyone the right to practice. Absent this law, thousands of Floridians would be robbed of one of the greatest opportunities of the American Dream of running a successful small business. This includes Ms. Eva Locke mentioned in the article.
Before this law, interior designers could not work in commercial spaces without supervision from an architect or engineer. The passage of interior design licensure opened the profession to those already practicing as well as those wanting to practice. Today, because of the work of ASID and practitioners in Florida to pass this legislation, recognition of the importance of the profession is at an all-time high.
Interior designers’ expertise is valued on any construction or renovation project, but especially commercial spaces. This is due to the complexity of numerous codes that state and local jurisdictions require. Licensed interior designers deal with this world in Florida. Therefore, training and proficiency is a must due to the clearly defined role they play in upholding the public’s health, safety, and welfare.
Our training is grounded in both the classroom and “on the job” experience. A parallel example would be lawyers. They go to school for multiple years to achieve a degree in law, but also during this time work in a law firm to apply their learned skills. After graduation, they take the industry recognized exam commonly known as “the bar.” The path for interior designers is very similar. The difference is we provide more pathways than the law profession to achieve the requisite education, work experience, and passage of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam (our industry’s exam). There are in fact six total routes one can take. The article uses Ms. Locke as an example of just one of those routes. Unfortunately, her experience with a design firm closing up due to the Great Recession is one found all too often everywhere, not just in Florida.
The favorable news for people like Ms. Locke, whose work experience was interrupted through no fault of their own, is ASID is here as a resource to help. ASID has a jobs bank found at www.asid.org/careers, which currently lists more than 600 job openings. Furthermore, ASID offers countless educational, networking and mentoring opportunities for all types of interior designers regardless of the current stage of one’s career. I would encourage anyone to contact a local ASID chapter. Regardless, use these resources for the betterment of your present or future career in interior design.
Finally, the article unfairly implies there is some coordinated effort to discriminate against minorities wanting to enter the interior design profession. This could not be further from the truth. As a member of ASID, I am well aware that all ASID chapters across the country unequivocally support the advancement and diversification of the practice of interior design.
Sarah W. Colandro, ASID, LEED AP ID+C
Director of Interior Design
Fawley | Bryant