Leaders Breakfast 2016: Looking Back – Moving Forward

With no plans of slowing down, the IIDA Leaders Breakfast had one of its biggest and most successful years in 2016 since the program began in 1989. The eight-city series event – created to connect design leaders through a dynamic program of inspiring keynote speakers, a celebration of local design luminaries, and great conversation with colleagues – has become a favorite signature experience. With Interior Design Media and Herman Miller as the International Benefactors of the event, we are proud to present the highlights of Leaders Breakfast 2016.


View the complete roster of Leaders Breakfast 2016 keynotes and honorees. Learn more about Leaders Breakfast and stay tuned for 2017 dates to be announced soon. 

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 

Advocacy Spotlight: Rocky Mountain Chapter

Karen Hailey, IIDA, is the Vice President of Advocacy for the Rocky Mountain Chapter. She recently created an excellent presentation that covered the basics of interior design advocacy using Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software. We asked her a few questions about the presentation and advocating in a state without pending legislation.

What inspired you to create the presentation?
Explaining legislative issues can be tricky. We really needed a presentation that was stripped down and simplified in order to focus on a single message. The intent was to make the content clear and, most importantly, usable. In addition, we needed to present definitive and concise answers to some of the misconceptions and opposition that we face when advocating for interior design. None of the content is new or groundbreaking but is just gathered and presented in a fresh way.

Prezi isn’t the usual presentation format, but it makes for a more dynamic presentation. How did the chapter respond to a new presentation style?
One of the best features that Prezi has to offer is its ability to organize information graphically. The ability to make dynamic thought bubbles and visually describe the links between concepts really helps to explain a multifaceted topic. The audience seemed to respond really well to the presentation format. The less formal nature of it seemed to make it easier for people to open up and participate in discussion. I didn’t see anyone fall asleep, so I think that’s a good sign.

What impact has the CEU and your advocacy efforts had on the chapter and level of interest from members?
The CEU presentation sparked great discussion and helped to empower the participants to be advocates in their day-to-day lives. IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter’s advocacy efforts continue to evolve. This CEU was a kick off to a fresh and intentional approach to outreach for us. One of the main messages in the presentation is that making change for the profession is accomplished by grassroots advocating efforts. The more our coworkers, friends, families, and colleges understand the health, safety, and welfare impacts of interior design, the more they can spread this clear message to their networks. My goal for our chapter is to give the design community the right tools to do this.

How do you promote advocacy in your chapter when there isn’t an active interior design bill in your state?
In Colorado, we do not currently have an active bill. The purpose of creating the aforementioned presentation was to drum up advocacy efforts in this “off-season.” This can be the most important time to promote advocacy because you are building a network base of supporters in order to be prepared for new interior design legislation. This is also a time to take a step back and critically analyze past efforts.

During an inactive legislative year, it is important to stay present. Work with your coalition and lobbyists to get designers in front of legislators and start changing perceptions when the stakes are not so high. Most importantly, remind people to continually advocate for the future of the Interior Design profession.

What do you wish other people knew about interior design legislation?
It is a long process to turn a big ship. It takes a LOT of small conversations to change a big perception. These grassroots efforts require everyone’s participation. Our coalitions can’t reach all of the people that the individuals in the design community can. It is crucial to promote the profession through support of the coalitions and through individual advocacy efforts. It is often difficult to get coalition membership but it is a vital component in influencing legislative outcomes. The coalitions employ lobbyists and act as the legislative watchdogs for the profession; they need member support.

View the presentation!

Advocacy Spotlight: Intermountain Chapter and IDEAL for Utah

Interior Design Education and Legislation for Utah (IDEAL for Utah), the Utah interior design coalition, introduced interior design legislation during the Utah State Legislature’s 2015 session. The Intermountain Chapter, IDEAL for Utah, and their lobbyist, Amy Coombs, have worked diligently and passionately to support the legislation, which was introduced in both the Utah House of Representatives and the Utah Senate. We reached out to Coombs and Melanie Bahl, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, President of IDEAL for Utah, and asked them a few questions about the process and all of their hard work.

What helped the coalition decide this year was the year to introduce legislation?
Once we were able to detail the strategy and received positive feedback from those we tested the proposal with, we felt an attempt was warranted. We were like “blind mice” not knowing what we needed to do until we found a knowledgeable lobbyist, who was familiar with the industry.

What has surprised you about the legislative process?
We have been most surprised at how quickly things change. [We learned that] the legislative process is challenging. We also realized how uncertain things are and how relationships are interconnected. We have also learned the importance to leverage relationships whether it’s a family friend, a client, [or] a constituent. It’s necessary to connect individuals to build solid relationships.

We are also surprised how much is decided upon prior to the committee meetings. You must feel confident going into a committee meeting that you have provided the legislators with enough information that they feel confident voting in favor.

We’ve learned that it’s never too early to plant seeds and build relationships. Where we were once terrified to talk with legislators, we found that they are just like us, passionate with their beliefs and want to make things better. Have confidence when you speak with them knowing that you are the expert and it is your responsibility to educate them. Don’t underestimate the power in numbers — numbers contacting the legislators, numbers sending letters, numbers attending committee meetings.

Lastly, we are surprised how you can do everything right and not get the outcome desired.

What do you wish other people knew about interior design legislation?
Great question! We wish that the public was more aware of the value that interior designers bring to projects in their communities. We wish legislators would not be so dismissive at first regarding the issue. We don’t know how many times we have said, “It is so much more than pillows and paint.” Most people do not know the kind of projects that interior designers work on, the amount of education that is often required, and the current barriers to practice.
Furthermore, we want interior designers to realize that they are being limited. We wish interior designers were aware of the limitations placed on their ability to practice independently to their full [ability].

How has the IIDA Intermountain Chapter supported the legislative efforts?
[The Intermountain Chapter] has been instrumental in our efforts. Specifically, [the chapter] has offered support via the many conference calls where we discuss what has happened in previous states, evaluating bill language, communications/ email campaigns, and especially in educational materials. A large factor in calculating success comes from the availability of accurate information and the accessibility of the advocacy team at IIDA is a tremendous benefit to coalitions.



IA Interior Architects recently interviewed International President of IIDA Julio Braga, IIDA, LEED AP, for an informal chat about what he’s been doing to push IIDA as the go-to professional association that supports Commercial interior designers. Braga’s tenure since assuming the position back in June has already seen the Association taking active steps in dedicating itself to being a community of experts in workplace design, an increased involvement with standard setting organizations such as CIDA and NCIDQ, and a vested interest in the value of design through thoughtful panel discussions and engaging Member participation in advocacy efforts. There’s no doubt that Braga has taken the president role to new heights and IIDA in an exciting and innovative direction.

But perhaps the biggest undertaking for Braga – and IIDA – is furthering IIDA’s international goals. Expanding IIDA’s international presence is of particular importance for him.

“I’m interested in how the practice of design runs in other parts of the world, and our connection with professionals beyond the U.S.,” said Braga in the interview. “A majority of our members are American, but this is important because not only is the economy globalizing, but so is the way professionals carry out design.”

IIDA has already begun making strides in reaching out to its international Members beyond international design competitions with this year’s first IIDA event for the Milan Chapter, a day-long discussion about the business of design, as well as the announcement of Milanese architect and designer, Federico Delrosso, IIDA, as Inaugural Member of the IIDA President’s Council in August.

Braga, who is a Principal at IA, also shared his insight on how working with IIDA hasn’t just been a vital professional resource but a way to give back to the design community while making fast friends.

Read more about Braga’s interview with IA on dIAmeter, IA’s official blog.


So much work and creativity goes into a perfectly crafted and insightful email. Unfortunately, there’s many instances when you look at the statistics of your email and you noticed something that’s equal parts deflating and disappointing – minimal click-troughs and much more unopened emails than expected. It may feel like an uphill climb to achieve the status of the upper echelon of email marketing, but in actuality, it’s not rocket science. Start with these four basic tips for effective email marketing.

Make it Count: Only send an email if you absolutely, 100 percent have something to say. If you’re filling your followers’ inboxes with unimportant or mundane information, they’re more likely to unfollow your business and unsubscribe from your email list.

Spam is for Eating, Not for Emails: OK, let’s be honest, no one really eats Spam, right? Check out this website to make sure you’re in compliance with BCP Spam Guidelines for businesses. You may be accidentally sending out email content that may appear to be spam when the email server vets the content. No matter how well-written or highly informative your content is, if the email isn’t within BCP compliance, you’ll face the pitfalls of the junk folder!

Develop a Voice: Each brand in every industry has its own unique voice it utilizes when addressing clients. Use the principle terms employed within your industry, and personalize them in order to create a more conversational tone. Write using a quicker pace! Long-winded emails will more than likely be discarded before the reader makes it through the second sentence. Also, adjust the flow of your email so the most important information is listed first.

Show Your Benefits: Don’t sell your service; sell your benefits. When you position your service as something someone can buy, its less attractive because you’re not showing the end results the user will achieve. Think about those fitness infomercials that litter your TV screen after midnight – they sell you on the six-pack abs and chiseled arms-not the actual exercise and work you have to put in to get them. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and think, “what am I going to get out of this service?” and construct your email with this thought in mind.