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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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IIDA Leaders Breakfast Houston: Focused on the Future of Design

On a typical morning of Leaders Breakfast, attendees listen to an individual at the podium accepting the Leadership Award of Excellence. The honors are usually bestowed upon someone described as a trailblazer who has paved a way within the design community. But this year, IIDA Leaders Breakfast Houston has decided not to give the award to an individual, but to an organization that is a recognizable force within their community. The IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter has selected the Rice Design Alliance (RDA) as this year’s recipient. Chosen for their community outreach in advancing architecture, urban design, and the built environment throughout the Houston region, the chapter’s values on education and the future of the design community align with RDA’s values; the chapter cites RDA’s diverse membership involvement for anyone interested in design and their educational programming as the main reason for receiving the honor.

RDA was formed in 1972 by a small group of academicians, Rice School of Architecture alumni and civic-minded citizens under the leadership of David Crane, FAIA. Since then, RDA has emerged as the preeminent public forum in Houston for conversation and programming of design and the built environment. Its membership has grown in the thousands and includes those in the design communities, as well as those who have a personal interest in architecture and urban planning. The association embraces diverse people, professions, and points of view within their organization.

RDA is a forerunner in sponsoring lectures, symposiums, architecture tours, grant competitions, and national design competitions, to name a few.  With education being the cornerstone of RDA, their civic forums are a vehicle for examining issues that affect Houstonians and the city. These discussions allow the public to gather information about current issues and to join the dialogue with experts.  Along with their rich programming, their 33-year-old publication, Cite: The Architecture + Design Review is one of their most recognizable contributions to the community. The publication has been the only consistent voice of architectural criticism in Houston and one of the few sources for thoughtful, well-researched analysis in architecture, design, and infrastructure.

Keeping up with the importance of education and the future of Houston, RDA formed rdAGENTS, RDA’s young professional group. Each August, the rdAGENTS host an all-day design charette where architects and designers propose solutions to community issues. On a somewhat smaller scale, the design charettes sponsored by dAGENTS also bring lasting improvements to public spaces and provide opportunities for collaboration.

With the same educational values as RDA, the Texas Oklahoma Chapter understands the importance of educating and involving the youth of the cities. As one of the only cities within the Leaders Breakfast organizations to do so, the chapter delivers all profits from the Breakfast to the Texas Oklahoma Education Fund. So far the chapter has raised over $125,000 from Leaders Breakfast profits to support three tuition reimbursement scholarships worth $4,000 each and one study abroad scholarship also worth $4,000. To date, the fund has awarded students in the interior design field over 32 scholarships totaling $100,000. The Texas Oklahoma Chapter also pays for students to attend their annual Student Conference and celebrated its fifteenth one this year.

This year, the chapter introduced a Special Initiatives Grant to support faculty and students by providing funding resources in three categories: research, educational experience, and educational tools. Up to $3,000 will be awarded from this grant.


Support the Texas Oklahoma Education Fund and attend Leaders Breakfast in Houston. Learn more about RDA.