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IIDA Response to White House Occupational Licensing Report

Today, the White House released a report, “Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers,” on occupational licensing. It provides a cost-benefit analysis of occupational licensing based on current data and suggests a number of best practices for state legislatures in regards to occupational licensing.

In the report, best practices for occupational licensing include:

  1. Limiting requirements to those that address legitimate public health and safety concerns.
  2. Applying the results of comprehensive cost-benefit assessments of licensing laws to reduce the number of unnecessary or overly-restrictive licenses.
  3. Harmonizing regulatory requirements as much as possible, and where appropriate entering into inter-state compacts that recognize licenses from other states, to increase the mobility of skilled workers.
  4. Allowing practitioners to offer services to the full extent of their current competency to ensure that all qualified workers are able to offer services.

The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) believes and supports the best practice of allowing practitioners to offer services to the full extent of their competency underscores the reason the Commercial Interior Design industry is striving to pass meaningful legislation. In most states current architecture licensing laws prevent qualified interior designers from providing services to the “full extent of their current competency.” IIDA is working to expand the number of practitioners providing interior design services to consumers in the code-impacted interior environment. We also believe lawmakers should apply cost-benefit analysis to ensure laws serve the best interest of their state.

The report also states that one of the reasons licensing laws exist is to protect the public’s health and safety, and is especially important in situations where it is costly or difficult for consumers to obtain information on service quality. Licensure of interior design would alleviate the consumer’s burden of design service quality verification.

Additionally, IIDA agrees with the White House report that licensing should not impede a designer’s ability to move or provide services in more than one state. Laws should reflect the mobility of workers and provide for reciprocity between states.

IIDA is continuing to monitor the situation and will provide updates as needed. IIDA does not believe that the White House report is damaging to our efforts to pass meaningful interior design legislation, and we will continue to advocate on behalf of the Interior Design profession.

Edwards, Julia. (2015, July 28). House Report Calls for Eased Job Licensing Requirements. Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/28/us-usa-employment-licensing-idUSKCN0Q220C20150728 

Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers. (2015). Washington, DC: The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/licensing_report_final_nonembargo.pdf 

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Translating Architecture through Radio

Frances Anderton’s background reads like a plot of a summer novel. Early childhood in England, renovating a casa colonica in Florence, studying the Haveli in Jaipur, writing for magazines in Los Angeles – and, it all leads to one of today’s most influential architectural radio shows. Anderton is this year’s recipient of the Leadership Award of Excellence at the IIDA Leaders Breakfast Los Angeles. As executive producer and host of radio show and blog DnA: Design and Architecture, Anderton’s path to the award stems from a meaningful past that has led her to becoming a preeminent voice on exploring what matters in our designed world.

Growing up in Bath, England, where her childhood backdrop was that of a Jane Austin drama, Anderton lived in Georgian houses that her father would purchase and remodel, creating interiors as modern of a style as possible in neoclassical houses. It was this way of living that sparked her love for design, giving her a strong sense of how one’s environment can shape the quality of life.

During her early years, Anderton spent a year in Florence, Italy, renovating a farmhouse. Later, she studied at the University College London and soon transferred to the Bartlett School of Architecture. She concluded that while she loved architecture, she “did not have the personality or requisite skill set to be an architect.”

Drawn to communications, Anderton found her way to becoming an editor at the London-based Architectural Review magazine. In 1987, her first assignment was to travel to Los Angeles, California, to produce a special issue on emerging architecture on the West Coast. In 1991, she moved to L.A. to become editor-in-chief of LA Architect.

On arriving, the region was shaken up the 1992 Rodney King riots, which lead to the founding of Which Way, L.A.?, a public radio show hosted by the esteemed journalist Warren Olney. Anderton felt there was much to learn about how cities work from this show and went on to become the show’s producer while continuing her design journalism. In 2002, the two tracks merged when DnA: Design And Architecture was launched. She believes her knowledge of politics and current affairs gives her a unique vantage point on architecture and design.

Anderton credits her late father for her interest in architectural landscape and her success in the media sector of the architectural world. She believes that due to his lack of a formal architectural education, he would speak about architecture and buildings in a language one could understand. She feels she owes her “desire to ‘translate’ architecture and design to the public — through DnA and other archi-writing — to this exposure to very different ways of talking about buildings.”

In addition to offering her voice on air, Anderton writes for many publications and has served as L.A. correspondent for Dwell and The New York Times. Her most recent book is Grand Illusion: A Story of Ambition, and Its Limits, on L.A.’s Bunker Hill, based on a studio she co-taught at USC School of Architecture with Frank Gehry and partners, the architects of numerous landmarks including the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Most recently, she curated “Sink or Swim: Designing for a Sea Change,” an exhibition of photographs about resilient architecture.


Learn more about Leaders Breakfast, the annual IIDA series event that celebrates design’s importance in the global marketplace. Upcoming speakers include writer Cheryl Strayed and Jonathan Perelman, vice president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures.

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Oregon Chapter: Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities Award Winner

Every year, IIDA celebrates its chapters with the Chapter Awards, which recognize individual chapters for their outstanding achievement in specialty categories. The awards are designed to encourage IIDA chapters to develop and maintain excellence in their work to enhance the Interior Design profession at the local level. The Oregon Chapter won the 2015 award for Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities for their work in promoting advocacy and the Interior Design profession in their state. The chapter has worked diligently to build support for legislation through creative events and a successful partnership with the state coalition. We asked Bethanne Mikkelsen, IIDA, NCIDQ Certificate No. 29445, LEED AP ID+C, Vice President of Advocacy of the Oregon Chapter, about what makes their program successful even though the states currently does not have an interior design law in place.

Why is advocacy important at the chapter level? How do you convey that message to members?

For many of our members, legislation can be overwhelming and confusing. Its inherent process and associated verbiage have long been factors that deter engagement. Our objective was to break down this barrier of understanding and to inspire participation through regular, clear, and simple updates about the pursuit of interior design legislation in Oregon.

In response to feedback from members, a blog was created as part of the new website. The advocacy team has utilized this blog to provide regular and informative advocacy updates including IIDA initiatives. This has served as an overall foundation for understanding and engages the community by bringing them along as partners.

To further encourage engagement, we focused the topic of our annual membership appreciation event around developing a consistent message about the services of commercial interior designers: what we do and why it is important and worth regulating. This empowering discussion highlighted the new advocacy tools and messaging from IIDA, featured a panel of advocates from our region, including the coalition lobbyist, and was attended by a legislator — a FIRST EVER for the chapter. The discussion continued well past the scheduled end of the event and has remained a major topic of discussion within the chapter.

How has the chapter worked with the state coalition? What makes is successful?

The chapter has been successful in working with the coalition in several ways. The coalition board restructured so that there is a co-chair from IIDA and a co-chair from ASID running the organization. The coalition felt that this was helpful in creating a unified effort between IIDA and ASID.

Also, every year the coalition enters into a business agreement with IIDA. The coalition submits the agreement to IIDA outlining sponsorship requests, funding requests, and anything else that is imperative for the year. This allows successful planning and helps to create a unified collaboration between the two organizations.

How do you build up support for advocacy prior to a bill being introduced?

One of the most important things we can do to build support for a bill is to start the discussion surrounding its development and its importance early. Keeping this conversation active is a way to foster consistent engagement while providing the education of the bill language, its positive outcomes, and clarity in messaging needed to develop advocates. We have found that consistent and clear messaging makes the bill more approachable and easier to rally around. Maintaining this dialogue has also made it easier to inform members of outreach opportunities and ways that they can actively be involved.

What do you wish other designers knew about advocacy?

We have all heard this before but I will say it again: You are your own best advocate; you have a voice, and a right to use it. Regardless if you are a sole proprietor or work in a large firm, qualified interior designers have the education and experience required to practice interior design without the oversight of another design professional. Helping to make a difference in professional recognition of interior design is really rewarding!


Want to learn more about advocating for the Interior Design profession, visit the IIDA Advocacy page!

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When a Chemist and Environmentalist Meet

How do a biophysical chemist and a steadfast environmentalist find their way to accepting one of the top honors in the commercial interior design industry? The two honorees of the Leadership Award of Excellence at this year’s IIDA Leaders Breakfast San Francisco are renowned in this industry, but not how the general audience is involved. Their journeys are separated by their personal feats and intertwined by their commitment to advocating for reducing the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals in the products and furniture of which the industry’s designers and representatives create, sell, and use in their everyday lives.

Arlene Blum, Ph. D., Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute, and Judy Levin, Center for Environmental Health’s (CEH) Pollution Prevention Director, joined efforts in 2012 to revise the outdated standard which allowed the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals in furniture and baby product foam across the U.S. and Canada. The same toxic chemical Blum successfully helped remove from children’s pajamas in 1978 had continued to be used in furniture. Advocating for the supply and demand of healthier furniture, Blum continued her efforts on working with and educating furniture and foam manufacturers, which she initially started in 2006. Meanwhile, Levin took the other side of the message and began educating the designers and purchasers.  Levin has successfully enlisted an impressive list of purchasing companies such as Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, HDR Architecture, and Perkins+Will to express their desire to buy retardant-free furniture using the “Purchasers Pledge.”

With the support of California’s governor, Jerry Brown, and a California-based flame retardant coalition, co-led by Levin and the CEH, the California furniture flammability standard was finally changed so that flame retardants are no longer needed in furniture and baby products. Along with furniture, these requirements have also led to ability of manufacturers to meet the new standards without the use of toxic flame retardants in mattress pads and children’s products such as changing pads and strollers. In 2010, the Green Science Policy Institute’s work helped prevent a new standard that would have led to flame retardants in pillows mattress pads and comforters – another huge victory for the public’s health, environment, as well as fire safety. The new furniture flammability standard in California has become a de facto national standard.

Blum and Levin first collaborated in 2008 on preventing a new requirement that would have led to flame retardants in electronics enclosures. At the time, Levin was developing an ecolabel (EPEAT) for electronic devices by developing criteria to restrict the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals, all the while Blum worked on the international standards that would promote the use of flame retardants in electronics worldwide. The two, along with a small but active group of allies, are responsible for thwarting international standards that would have led to the use of billions of pounds of flame retardants in electronics cases around the world.

Most recently, Blum and Levin collaborated to prevent new and potentially harmful furniture flammability standards which are under consideration by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2014, CEH co-sponsored a bill that now requires manufacturers who sell furniture in California to label their products for the presence or absence of flame retardant chemicals. A bill to require the labeling of flame retardants in children’s products is in progress and will be voted on by this September. The Green Science Policy Institute continues to educate purchasers, designers, retailers, and manufacturers to reduce the use of whole classes of harmful chemicals.

Read more about the honorees:
How Dangerous Is Your Couch?
Kicking Toxic Chemicals Out Of The Office: An Easy Guide To Going Flame Retardant Free 
VIDEO: A Flame Retardant That Came With Its Own Threat to Health
Are You Safe on that Sofa?
Green Science Policy Institute Consumer Resources
Six Classes: A Webinar Series on Chemicals of Concern
Major Producers Eliminating Flame Retardant Chemicals as Major Buyers Are Demanding Flame Retardant-Free Furniture


Learn more about IIDA Leaders Breakfast and purchase your tickets!

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Stamp and Seal Legislation: What You Need to Know

Josie is an interior designer in New York. She graduated from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Josie has also passed the NCIDQ exam and has over four years of commercial interior design experience at a firm in New York City. The state of New York recognizes her as a certified interior designer.

Josie is a project lead but she cannot pull the permits to start construction on a project. When she creates technical drawings of her work, she cannot submit them to local building jurisdictions for building permits. Despite her education, years of experience, passing of an examination that proves her competency in the health, safety, and well-being of the public, and state certification, Josie’s work has to be approved and submitted by an architect or an engineer – even if the work is for nonstructural interior spaces.

Why can’t Josie submit her own drawings? Because interior design is a new and still developing profession, the ability to submit drawings for permits has not yet been recognized in most states. But stamp and seal legislation allows interior designers who have met the education, experience, and examination qualifications to literally stamp and seal the construction documents for submission to local building officials for approval and permits. Is it any surprise that architects and engineers who have been regulated for decades are actively working to prevent interior designers from having the same privileges?

Stamp and seal legislation elevates the practice and profession of commercial interior design, by creating a new tier of professionals — like the hypothetical Josie — within the design industry. Look at landscape architects who work in exterior spaces like garden designers and landscapers, but must obtain more education, pass a stringent exam, and receive a state license since their work impacts the public. Likewise, attorneys receive more education and must be licensed as they are more liable than paralegals.

While there is a myth that stamp and seal legislation restricts decorators or residential designers from continuing to do what they have always done, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, one of the benefits of stamp and seal legislation is that it expands an interior designer’s scope of practice and encourages growth, allowing interior designers to own a controlling interest in their firms.

Commercial interior designers have the necessary education, experience, and examination to protect the general public’s health, safety, and well-being in the interior code-impacted environment. There is no question that stamp and seal legislation will do more for the profession.


Feeling empowered? Visit the IIDA Advocacy site and send a letter to your legislator supporting interior design legislation.

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Have You Been to Leaders Breakfast?

Raise your hand if you’ve been to an IIDA Leaders Breakfast. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the eight cities that hosts the annual international series, your hand should be up. As one of the premiere events select IIDA chapters have the opportunity to host, Leaders Breakfast is the perfect way to cultivate connections and change your morning routine – leaving you feeling inspired! With the support of the event’s International Benefactors, Herman Miller and Interior Design Media, Leaders Breakfast is the place to be when you want to impress your clients or showcase your company to hundreds of industry associates. With record numbers of attendance at the first two breakfasts of 2015, the series is gaining the momentum it well deserves.

The IIDA Leaders Breakfast event series celebrates design’s importance in the global market place by honoring the people who are both the legacy and future of design. Each chosen host city organizes a breakfast that features a renowned keynote speaker to provoke and encourage new ideas, and recognize one city-selected honoree who has made significant contributions to the design industry. Honorees receive the coveted Leadership of Excellence Award and a special edition Charles and Ray Eames stool awarded by Herman Miller.

Image courtesy of Herman Miller

Image courtesy of Herman Miller

The sunrise networking gala begins around 7 a.m., when top-tier professionals from the largest companies in the industry start pouring through the doors. Designers, architects, directors, CEOs, industry members, media, sales reps, dealers, and students join forces, socializing and networking before the event. Soon enough, the coffee reception feels like a cocktail party filled with chatter, laughter, and camera flashes.

The Leaders Breakfast program begins by recognizing the honoree. The introduction and acceptance speeches are very moving; giving the audience an understanding of the path the honoree took to get here. The honoree for the 2015 Leaders Breakfast Atlanta, Stephen Swicegood, IIDA, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal and Managing Director, Gensler Atlanta, reflected on leadership and early conversations with Art Gensler himself. Swicegood urged the audience to “let go of who you think you need to be and be who you are.”

The program concludes with a thought-provoking, renowned keynote speaker to jumpstart your day with a dose of creative inspiration. Having had the opportunity to get to know the keynote speakers prior to the show, it is interesting to see their cool demeanor before they present as larger-than-life characters on stage. The 2015 Leaders Breakfast New York keynote, Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture & Design and Director of Research & Development at MoMA, was calm as anyone simply attending the breakfast. She leaned over and asked me if her hair looked okay prior to stepping on stage before 700+ attendees. Her presentation awed the audience by combining art with critical analysis. Antonelli’s speech referenced MIT Media Lab’s Neri Oxman and her silkworm project, which Oxman presented at the 2014 Chicago Leaders Breakfast. “Design is not only cute chairs and fast cars, but it is also origami, 3-D printing, and, as much as possible, design is critical,” said Antonelli.

During the Atlanta breakfast, I spoke with keynote David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, who saw the breakfast as “the dichotomy of someone who spent their whole career in the industry paired with someone from the outside who is providing an outside voice,” and described the event as “not just a meal for your body, but a meal for your mind.” His speech inspired audiences to recognize how to get better ideas by growing their network and collaborating differently.

Not all Leaders Breakfast keynote speakers have messages of art or design, or even creativity.  The upcoming fall and winter keynotes will stretch from award-winning writer Cheryl Strayed, who will tell her powerful story of endurance, to Jonathan Perelman,  Vice President of Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, who will address how to create shareable, social content and offer insight into how to maximize the content’s impact.

Whether your pocket is full of business cards of new contacts or your head is full of new ideas and perspective, a morning at Leaders Breakfast will always leave you with something brilliant to take away.


Learn more about Leaders Breakfast and register to attend an event near you!