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A recent Huffington Post Blog entry challenged the legitimacy of the Interior Design profession, in particular the “arbitrary” legislative efforts to regulate it. Unfortunately for the industry and our members, once again the practice of interior design was confused with interior decorating.

The blog post opens, “Homeowners hire interior designers to beautify their living space. It’s an industry focused on style, design, and aesthetics.” This prevailing market misconception of interior designers as merely “decorators” or purveyors of home design secrets and tips makes it all the more important for IIDA, its Members, and the design community at large to educate the general public on what professional interior design really is, and in doing so, advocate for legal recognition of the field.

Interior designers must be highly skilled in order to create interior environments that are functional, safe, and adhere to building codes, regulations, and ADA requirements. They go beyond the selection of color palettes and furnishings and apply their knowledge to the development of construction documents, occupancy loads, healthcare regulations, and sustainable design principles, as well as the management and coordination of professional services including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life safety – all to ensure that people can work, live, and learn in an innocuous environment that is also aesthetically pleasing.

We know this. But, we – IIDA, our Members, and interior designers – must continue to educate the public at large so we can dispel this misconception once and for all.

For more information to share with your clients, peers, and friends on the differences between interior design and interior decorating, please visit the National Council for Interior Design Qualification or this excerpt from the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice on Interior Design.

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September’s IIDA Product of the Month features KI’s new collection, Soltíce Metal, designed by Paul James. With superior attention to detail, award-winning designer James has taken the incomparable durability of steel and refines it to an art form. James’ vision with Soltíce Metal was to take the established design of classic Soltíce, with its beautiful, inviting curves, and give it a fresh form. Its modern silhouette offers a stunning simplicity and creates a clean and contemporary aesthetic suitable for all environments. For more product details, visit the KI website here.


Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

About 60 percent of Americans work in cubicles, and 93 percent of those dislike them. How did that happen? Nikil Saval, author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, tried to answer this question during a recent lecture.

Saval began by summarizing his own work experience, one that we can all relate to, which involved receiving an assigned cube and his feelings of excitement at being able to personalize the three walled space. He soon transitioned to freelance work, a change that took him to loud, overpriced coffee shops. These work experiences precipitated his book, Cubed, that seeks to discover the changes in the workplace from employees at cubicles to today’s freelance worker.

He began his research with the 19th century when America saw the advent of clerical work, and as Saval explained, “a much-despised position by the public.” Even Walt Whitman wrote against men working in offices, while others painted them as weak and pale as compared to manual laborers.

As Saval moved on throughout the centuries he eventually landed in the 1950’s where the workplace gave rise to different pools/departments of work. Desks were grouped together (aka the accounting pool) and upper management had coveted offices on the perimeter surrounding this pool of desks.


In 1968 Robert Propst of Herman Miller worked to create the Action Office. The Action Office proposed to do away with the fixed furniture of the office, and instead, provide workplaces with flexible office components that could be combined to best fit the needs of the employee. Unfortunately, Action Office didn’t sell well, and gave rise to Action Office 2, which provided the workplace with the now oft-seen modular, interlocking three walls. All furniture manufacturers, eager to have a piece of the profits, began churning out three-walled cubicles without regard for the office or worker.

The lecture ended somewhat abruptly with a brief nod to Google and their innovative workplace design, but offered no blueprint for how we can refresh and do away with these “cubicle farms.” Fortunately, IIDA continues to celebrate workplace design through our competitions and pushes the industry forward through our industry round table discussions, while also stopping to ask how happy designers are in their workplace. Will cubicle farms be a thing of the past? Will open concept rule the workplace? Where do you think the future of the workplace is headed?


JWT Sydney Headquarters, designed by Geyer


Interior Designers have concentrated not only on designing aesthetically pleasing workplaces, but also focused on designing workplaces that promote employees’ health and well-being. The Huffington Post recently spotlighted the significance of workplace design via the article, “Workplace Wellness: 7 Workplace Design Experts Weigh in on the Next Big Thing,” by Amanda Schneider.

Of the seven designers highlighted and quoted in the article, five are IIDA Members including IIDA Fellow Joan Blumenfeld, FIIDA; as well as Marlene Liriano, IIDA; Angie Lee, IIDA; Nila Leiserowitz, IIDA; and Mark Hirons, IIDA. Each IIDA Member shared their perspective on what has precipitated the increased interest regarding workplace design, and why well-being in the workplace is crucial in today’s office environment.

IIDA has and continues to be a leading authority on workplace design, with the Association continually bringing together industry experts for robust and well-chronicled roundtable discussions, as well as workplace-focused design competitions. Stay tuned for IIDA Industry Roundtable 18 that focuses on the topic of “Workplace Well-Being,” addressing how it is essential to human intelligence, creativity, happiness, health, innovation, and productivity.

Header Image: JWT Sydney Headquarters, designed by Geyer

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This month Allsteel brings us three products for the DM Product of the Month.


IntelliForm™ back technology and advanced materiality allow this chair to embrace the user, providing consistent contact for personalized comfort. Appropriately scaled, Mimeo can be easily transported and visually integrated into multiple spaces. With its distinctive style and dynamic support, Mimeo delivers the spirit of design and performance that moves companies forward.


The simple, efficient functionality of Beyond movable walls offers built-in flexibility that responds to the constant rhythm of business change. With a large selection of aesthetic choices, move beyond permanent drywall solutions and rigid space planning to create flexible workspaces that are ready to reconfigure and walls that are easy to relocate for whatever change the future brings.


At the heart of Further is the hub, providing power and data support for a variety of applications, whether beam-connected or freestanding. Further’s signature trapezoid surface allows multiple configurations, provides unique user orientation that maximizes footprint efficiency, and accommodates focused or collaborative workspaces. Whether the planning approach is organic or linear, individual or team-based, Further can bring your design to life.

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FICTION: Only 28 states currently have laws that legally recognize interior designers.  Most states that recognize interior designers have Title Laws, and some states allow designers to stamp and seal their drawings for permits. To learn more about the laws and legislation in your state, visit our advocacy page here.

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