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!

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.

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