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.

Winter CLC 2015, Focused on Advocacy

Three IIDA board members. 10 IIDA HQ staff. 120+ Chapter leaders, presidents, and president-elects. This winter saw the biggest IIDA CLC turnout yet in its 20-year history. The two-day leaders conference kicked off February 6th in Chicago with a welcome reception at the Kimball Office showroom followed by a packed weekend of idea sharing and incubating, networking, and general catching up!

This winter’s CLC conference focused on advocacy, a call to action for interior designers to get the tools they need to advance the profession. Advocacy has been a hot topic as legislators throughout the country have been making key decisions that affect to what extent an interior designer can practice in his or her state (New York and Utah recently introduced two new interior design bills).

Emily Kluczynski, Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs at IIDA HQ, played a huge role in preparing for this CLC conference. Through presentations from advocacy experts and fun breakout activities that used improv to help designers talk about what they do to the public and lawmakers, this winter’s CLC’s conference showed that advocacy isn’t so intimidating. Here, Emily talks about how the idea for an advocacy-themed conference came about and describes how it emphasized grassroots advocacy to harness the power of IIDA membership and truly make a difference in the Interior Design profession.

Why an advocacy theme?
Since IIDA branded itself as the member association for the commercial interior designer, I have aspired to elevate the level of advocacy knowledge and participation for all members. The very hardworking Advocacy Committee–IIDA VPs of Advocacy from each chapter board–has wanted to learn more and grow their skills in grassroots advocacy. Having an advocacy-themed CLC provided them with experts in that field as well as opportunities for them to learn from one another, while encouraging other chapter leaders to be supportive of advocacy work.

How did the theme guide the meeting’s agenda?
We gave a presentation on legislative initiatives throughout the country and introduced the IIDA Advocacy Advisory Council, a group of members who are leaders in advocacy and act as consultants for the International Board, Cheryl, and me in how best to engage members in being better advocates. On Saturday, the Council for Interior Design Qualification gave an update on recent happenings with the National Council on Interior Design Qualification. Amy Showalter of The Showalter Group, and an expert in the field of grassroots advocacy, presented to members. The day ended with a breakout session for the VPs of Advocacy on how to develop their “elevator speech.” The conference ended Sunday with an informative panel on the purpose and functions of state legislative coalitions.

What were the main goals and objectives?
To learn from one another and learn more about grassroots advocacy from experts in the field. Also, to have chapter leaders practice talking about what interior designers do to others. It doesn’t have to be scary talking to legislators and policymakers about interior design.

What would you say was the biggest takeaway from CLC?
Everyone can be an advocate for interior design. Remember that your story is important.


Be on the lookout for details about the next CLC conference this coming June during NeoCon! To learn more about advocacy and how to get involved, check out the new IIDA advocacy microsite. #IIDAadvocacy