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Why Advocacy Matters: The Student Perspective

Should interior design advocacy matter to young professionals who are just getting started in the industry—or even just getting started in a degree program? Absolutely. Here, IIDA Student Member Lindsey Torpey, a senior in interior design at the University of North Texas (she’s also simultaneously in her first year of the Master of Arts in Sustainability program), shares her thoughts on the importance of advocating for the profession and how attending last year’s IIDA Advocacy Symposium changed her perspective on interior design certification.

What is your role in the IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter?

Lindsey: I’m the Student Representative to the Board. In my position on the Texas Oklahoma Chapter Board, I act as a voice for students in the Chapter. Through my personal experiences as a Student Member and by speaking with other students about their experiences, I am able to add insight to Board meetings and discussions. The Board created my position last year as a way to have a more direct connection with students and a better understanding of what students need from their IIDA Student membership.

What does advocacy mean to you as a student?

Lindsey: For me, advocacy means spreading the understanding of what interior designers do every day, so we can continue to protect the health, safety, and welfare of individuals.

Can you tell us about your experience at the inaugural Advocacy Symposium in 2015?

Lindsey: The Advocacy Symposium was fantastic and educational! I really enjoyed all of the great speakers. Having the opportunity to hear directly from our lobbyists was so interesting. I knew a portion of my IIDA membership dues went to the advocacy campaign, but hearing how my funds contributed to their efforts was very interesting. We were also able to hear firsthand how Utah is fighting their advocacy campaign, which I think we can say they have made a huge step as they recently passed their bill for the certification of commercial interior designers in Utah. I also loved the tour of the Texas Capitol; it is jam-packed with so many beautiful details.

For me, the biggest takeaway from the Symposium was finally understanding the how struggle for licensure, registration, and certification is an ongoing process across the nation. I didn’t realize the scope of the situation. We each need to work to inform those around us of the difference registered interior designers make in our lives.

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Lindsey Torpey, Student IIDA, Student Representative to the Board of the IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter

 

Do you plan on getting registered?

Lindsey: Yes, I plan to get registered. I think sitting for the NCIDQ and becoming registered is so important. Those three letters, RID, communicate a knowledge base not everyone possesses. It communicates the work and dedication you have devoted to the profession. And overall, it communicates that you work every day to protect the health, safety, and welfare of society.

How can students get involved in interior design advocacy?

Lindsey: Advocacy is something where a discussion needs to be had. I didn’t know the scope of our advocacy campaign before the Symposium, and I really didn’t understand we needed to be making such significant efforts.


Students: Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium scheduled for Sept. 23-25 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver, Colorado. Registration opens in May. Students receive a special registration rate. Learn more.

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2015 IIDA Advocacy Highlights

As you all know, IIDA HQ hosted its first annual Advocacy Symposium in Austin, Texas, which was a resounding success. We appreciate each and every one of you who attended and can hardly wait to see you in 2016 in Denver.

Thank you to the IIDA Texas/Oklahoma Chapter for hosting the IIDA Advocacy Symposium. In 2015, the Chapter, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Interior Design Coalition, also supported legislation amending the law requiring CEUs in Oklahoma. The IIDA TX/OK Chapter, with the Texas Association for Interior Design, also defeated a deregulation attempt in the Texas legislature.

The IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter’s Advocacy Team had its first annual community service project, BRIDGE. Along with IIDA members and other supporters, the advocacy team is working to complete a design renovation for the Central Area Senior Center. A very special thank you goes to the Chapter members who volunteered with HQ staff at the IIDA booth at the 2015 National Conference of State Legislators Summit in Seattle in August.

The IIDA PA/NJ/DE Chapter created the “I DID” advocacy campaign to support the Interior Design Legislation Coalition of Pennsylvania’s introduction of SB1021, which would allow for registration of interior designers and allow for them to submit interior construction documents for permits from local jurisdictions in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter held a successful, creative event at the Denver State Capitol in Denver. With the Colorado Interior Design Coalition, the Chapter had a coffee cart at the capitol allowing them to network with dozens of legislators.

The IIDA Tennessee Chapter was instrumental in helping reshape and rebuild the Tennessee Interior Design Coalition. They assisted the coalition in renaming (TN-IDEAL) and helped the coalition rebuild as it enters its 25th year in 2016.

The Wisconsin Chapter also has been instrumental in reorganizing the Interior Design Coalition of Wisconsin. Several chapter members are on the interim board, which already hosted a CEU event in 2015. A special thanks to Janet Hirsch, IIDA, who successfully kept the coalition running before this recent influx of fantastic volunteers.

The IIDA Ohio Kentucky Chapter held a successful Advocacy Roadshow throughout its region. A special thank you to Cheri Tucker, IIDA and VP of Advocacy, who organized the event.

The Illinois Interior Design Coalition in collaboration with the IIDA Illinois Chapter, led by VP of Advocacy Dan Bassano, IIDA, organized a successful Lobby Day in Springfield, Illinois, with over 100 interior designers and students walking the capitol to inform legislators on their current bill to license interior design in the state.

In 2015, IIDA Advocates. . .

  • Met with their state legislators
  • Sent letters and emails to state legislators
  • Attended legislative committee meetings
  • Organized and attended Interior Design Lobby Days at state capitols
  • Held town halls, forums, and panels about advocacy
  • Hosted NCIDQ study groups
  • Supported introduced bills in Utah, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania
  • Help passed CEU requirements in Oklahoma
  • Met with students at universities
  • Volunteered with HQ at National Conference of State Legislators Annual Summit
  • Produced advocacy campaigns
  • Planned an advocacy roadshow
  • Volunteered and participated in community events
  • Distributed advocacy flyers, brochures, and pamphlets
  • Attended the first annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium
  • Led and participated in Coalitions’ Board of Directors
  • Planned and execute strategic advocacy plans in IIDA Chapters and coalitions

Be a part of something bigger. Advocate for your profession. Learn more at advocacy.iida.org. #IIDAadvocacy

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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.Preview Changes

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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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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Legal Recognition of Interior Design Matters

For over 20 years IIDA has supported the legal recognition of interior designers who work in code-impacted environments. Our members protect the lives of millions at work, home, school, in healthcare facilities, hotels, and many other public spaces everyday. Commercial interior designers must be experts in building, fire and life safety, and ADA codes that affect the health and well-being of those who occupy interior commercial spaces everyday.

As one of the first states to regulate the practice of Interior Design, Florida’s current law continues to be upheld as one of the strongest interior design laws in the United States. Interior designers in Florida are required to register in the state in order to practice in commercial interior spaces because the practice of interior design does in fact affect the health and well-being of the public, which is why Florida has maintained that interior designers should be regulated.

Legal recognition of Interior Design may meet challenges from various opponents from across the country, but as the preeminent commercial interior design association, IIDA will continue to maintain that our members distinctly affect the health and well-being of the public and should be licensed to do work in the code-impacted environment.

Currently there are challenges to interior design regulation in many states, and IIDA offers its support to members and professional colleagues for regulation. For instance, we fully support the Illinois interior design bill currently in the legislative process and agree that those working in the code-impacted environment should have a combination of education, experience, and examination in order to practice.

For further information or questions on advocacy efforts led by IIDA, please contact the Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs Emily Kluczynski at advocacy@iida.org.

IIDA Advocacy Department: Interior Design vs Interior Decorating

advocacy.iida.org