IIDA Illinois Chapter: How Can Designers Make a Lasting Impression on Legislators?

Sitting down with a legislator to talk interior design for 10 minutes can be effective, but showing them firsthand what we do often leaves a lasting impression. Site visits—such as bringing a state representative to a design firm, to tour a recent interiors project, or as a guest at an industry event—allow designers to demonstrate the impact of their work in real-life situations. That’s exactly what the IIDA Illinois Chapter did when members engaged a lobbyist to bring state representatives to both NeoCon, the largest commercial interiors show in North America, and the Red Awards, the Illinois Chapter’s annual event recognizing outstanding local design projects. Here, Tom Spanier, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, talks about the value of site visits, how the Illinois Chapter planned these opportunities, and what was learned from the experience.

What was the goal of bringing legislators to NeoCon and the Red Awards?

We wanted to show the legislators that there is more to the interior design field than what is portrayed on television. Interior designers play a crucial role in designing commercial spaces and high profile public spaces. A project relies on team leaders to coordinate the entire design team, including architects, engineers, furniture dealers, and other consultants to successfully complete any given project.

Can you give us a rundown of what you did at the Red Awards and NeoCon to engage with the legislators?

At the Red Awards, the legislators sat in the front row of the auditorium and were acknowledged individually. They like being recognized, so we capitalized on that. Our lobbyist and advocacy committee attended and made sure the legislators were engaged and introduced to various people within the design community. We found the attendees would approach the legislators and have candid conversations about our industry. By the end of the event, there was a line of people looking for a chance to chat with them.

At NeoCon, our lobbyist managed the legislators and ensured they stayed engaged. For this event, it was very busy, so the spectacle and organized chaos kept the legislators interested and intrigued. We set up two tours with furniture showrooms prior to the event. The tour guides for each showroom were high-level executives who offered insights on the Interior Design industry and explained how interior designers work with manufacturers on a daily basis.

What do you think had the biggest impact on the government officials that you brought to NeoCon?

NeoCon is the premiere interior design showcase in the country; it was important to show the legislators the enormity of interior design from a global perspective as well as the economic impact it has on Chicago and the state of Illinois. The Merchandise Mart is also an impressive venue—people from all over the world participate in the show.

What did you learn from these two events?

Legislators truly had fun attending these events! They got a better sense of what we do as a profession and the types of projects we work on. We found it was much easier to talk to the legislators during the events versus going into their offices. We also learned that the legislators may have a limited amount of time to dedicate to any given event, so we needed to be as thoughtful and impactful as possible with what we presented to them. At Neocon, two hours was the maximum amount of time they committed to us as they had other engagements.


Learn how to be an advocate at advocacy.iida.org.

IIDA Members Testify in Ohio to Defeat Proposed Sales Tax on Interior Design Services

A proposed sales tax in Ohio, introduced in the state budget bill in January 2017, sought to tax interior design and decoration services. The tax provision would have put Ohio’s interior designers at a disadvantage in relation to interior designers in neighboring states, as well as other design professionals whose services are not taxed. IIDA, together with the American Society for Interior Designers (ASID), mobilized a grassroots advocacy campaign and successfully defeated the proposed tax.

Here, Tamra Fuscaldo, IIDA, NCIDQ, an interior designer for healthcare, higher education, and corporate facilities, and the past president of the IIDA Ohio Kentucky Chapter, shares her experience testifying before the Ohio Legislature about the negative effects the proposed sales tax would have had on the Interior Design industry in Ohio.

IIDA: Why was it important for you to get involved and testify in front of the Ohio Legislature?

Tamra Fuscaldo: I have been in the Interior Design industry for over 25 years. I feel that it is my responsibility to stand up for our profession. We are continually misunderstood and mislabeled, and I will do whatever I can to change that narrative.

IIDA: What key points were used in Ohio that made a big impact?

TF: For the legislation involving taxing of luxury services in Ohio, the bill was written with too broad of a definition. The intent was to tax the consumers, those who might have discretionary funds, when hiring a residential interior designer or decorator, referred to as business to consumer (B2C). I wanted to make it clear that the definition included commercial interior designers, those who worked in the business to business (B2B) sector. Commercial interior designers typically have at least a four-year degree, pass the NCIDQ, and have years of specialized experience in interiors. Moreover, with this tax, project costs would rise, impacting budgets and causing small firms to lower their fees in order to compete. Essentially, this was a tax on professional services not luxury services.

IIDA: What were the keys to success in Ohio?

TF: The profession of interior design has a long way to go in terms of advocacy. The public, including our legislative representatives, do not have a clear understanding of the complexity of our industry. During our hearings, we represented the Interior Design industry well, and I hope we were able to change the perspectives of legislators who were present. Ultimately, we have to show value in our profession in a way that puts us on par with architects and engineers. The key to success in Ohio was being able to define interior design to legislators as a professional and technical industry that benefits the public.


Want to learn more about advocating for the Interior Design profession? Join us at the next IIDA Advocacy Symposium.

Advocacy Spotlight: New Report Makes the Case for Interior Design Licensing in California

IIDA Chapters and interior design coalitions are on the front lines of state-level advocacy. Starting today, we are spotlighting the advocacy efforts of these organizations, beginning with the Interior Design Coalition of California. 

Article contributed by the Interior Design Coalition of California.

On Oct. 4, 2016, the Little Hoover Commission released their report on Occupational Licensing in California. The report makes a case for licensing commercial interior design in California, despite interior design was used as an example of a profession that should not be licensed at the first hearing and in initial discussions between commission staff and the Interior Design Coalition of California’s (IDCC) lobbyists. Continued discussions with Commission staff and IDCC testimony in subsequent hearings resulted in the case for the licensing of commercial design.

The Little Hoover Commission is an independent state oversight agency that was created in 1962. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state government operations and promote efficiency, economy, and improved service. By statute, the Commission is a balanced bipartisan board composed of five citizen members appointed by the Governor, four citizen members appointed by the Legislature, two Senators and two Assembly members. The Commission selects study topics that come to its attention from citizens, legislators, and other sources. In addition, it has a statutory obligation to review and make recommendations on proposed government reorganization plans.

This year, the Commission took on the challenge of putting together a series of thoughtful hearings to discuss occupational licensing in California. The focus of the Commission’s review is on the impact of occupational licensing on upward mobility and opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation for Californians, particularly those of modest means. The Commission also examined the result of occupational licensing on the cost and availability of services provided by licensed practitioners to consumers. Lastly, the Commission explored the balance between protecting consumers and enabling Californians to enter the occupation of their choice.

During the first hearing, one panelist raised interior designers as an example occupation that did not require licensure because the panelist confused the work of designers and decorators. To counter this point, the Interior Design Coalition of California (IDCC) was thrilled to participate in the second hearing in June.  Deborah Davis, FASID, director-at-large for IDCC, testified to the Commission regarding the work of interior designers and the need for interior designers to be licensed in the state of California. Davis was able to educate the Commission on our work and raise a variety of relevant points as to why licensure for interior designers working in the code-impacted environment would especially help those who own small businesses, 90 percent of whom happen to be women. The Commissioners responded well to Davis’ testimony, featuring our arguments in the final report. IDCC is looking forward to continued collaboration with the Little Hoover Commission and other stakeholders in the future as we continue to work towards our goals for the interior design profession in California in 2017 and beyond.

Read the Commission’s Full Report.


The Interior Design Coalition of California advocates for the legal recognition of qualified Interior Designers in the State of California. Through collaboration, education and advocacy, IDCC strives to present a unified voice for the California Interior Design community to support and protect the profession of interior design.

 

Q&A with the Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania

The Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania (IDLCPA) has been diligently working to promote the Interior Design profession through legislative efforts. IDLCPA introduced legislation in 2016 that would allow for the registration of interior designers in Pennsylvania. Currently, the architecture law prevents interior designers from working to the fullest extent of their abilities. Here, Jennifer Winters, NCIDQ, President of IDLCPA, provides highlights of the organization’s work, her insight into advocating for interior design, and an overview of the new legislation.

IIDA: How would this legislation impact your career and the careers of interior designers?

Winters: Interior designers are currently restricted by the state of Pennsylvania from practicing interior design in a code-based environment. IDLCPA is working on legislation seeking interior design registration for designers that practice code-driven interior planning and design. Senate bill PA SB 1021 will address registration in a way that will not impact designers currently practicing in residential, kitchen and bath, and decorative markets. When passed, the legislation will directly impact my career and the career of many other interior designers in a positive way by allowing interior designers to:

  • Submit permit drawings for their clients without having to hire an architect.
  • Bid on state and federal interior design contracts.
  • Certify documents for permitting.
  • Benefit from reciprocity.
  • Provide consumers a venue for the redress of grievances.
  • Reduce consumer costs by eliminating the expensive document processing.

Additionally, this would establish a requirement that licensed interior designers continually educate themselves on the practices of interior design.

IIDA: How has the coalition built grassroots support for the legislation?

Winters: For the IDLCPA coalition, communication has been key. We are constantly looking for new ways to communicate with architects, interior designers, and industry members.

We host town hall events across the state, which tend to be more intimate group conversations.

We use LinkedIn and Facebook.

We partner with IIDA and ASID. Both organizations always allow us the time and space to advocate for interior design licensure.

Jennifer-Winters_500x500_wordpress

IIDA: What has surprised you the most about the legislative process?

Winters: I was surprised at how many people have an opinion regarding an issue, but do not take action. I also was surprised at how approachable our legislators are and how interested they are to hear from their constituents. The time and consideration that senators and representatives have given IDLCPA has been amazing. Many have offered support and strategies over the years, and this has been a critical part of our success.

IIDA: What do you wish other designers knew about interior design legislation?

Winters: Interior designers need to understand that the profession is restricted and that their future is limited to working under a registered architect. This legislation supports the growth, development, and future education of the Interior Design profession.

IIDA: How has the IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter supported the legislative efforts?

Winters: Over the years, our IIDA local chapter has donated endless hours of time and resources. We often partner in fundraising events that allow IDLCPA to continue to pay for our lobbyist fees, Interior Design Day at the Capitol, marketing materials, and travel expenses. IIDA also allows IDLCPA to advertise and promote our cause within its communications. As the IIDA Advocacy platform has grown, the coalition benefits from new marketing materials and the connection with the government relations department, as well as the energized supporters that want to help.

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

Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities Honorable Mention Award – New England Chapter

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. This year, the New England Chapter was awarded honorable mention for Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities.

On Aug. 21, 2014 after years of dedication and hard work, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill 4303, which allows Massachusetts interior designers to bid on state projects. We asked Aimee M. Schefano, IIDA, vice president of advocacy of the New England Chapter, a few questions about what makes advocacy work in the New England Chapter.

What do you think made your application stand out?

Our application stands out in large part because after three decades of pursuing legislation, the state of Massachusetts has finally recognized Interior Design as a profession with the state now allowing interior designers to bid on state works. While this is an amazing and incredible feat on its own, the true story of greatness here is one of perseverance and collaboration. As a united front, IIDA New England worked with ASID New England and the local Massachusetts Interior Design Coalition (MiDC) to pursue these efforts. It was as a team that we were able to achieve our goals here in Massachusetts with each participating organization playing an equally crucial role.

Why is advocacy important at the chapter level? How do you convey that message to members?

At a chapter level we are ultimately our own worst enemy if we cannot continue to effectively communicate the importance of maintaining current legislative efforts while simultaneously looking to the future. We achieved greatness this past year but need to keep the momentum going. Corinne [Corinne Barthelemy, IIDA, LEED AP, President of the New England Chapter] put this most poignantly when she said, “In order to effectively progress legislation, advocacy needs to be part of the vernacular of the entire design community and not just a few select individuals.”

Right now we have a strong support base but there is so much opportunity to expand our advocate population and the general awareness level among our peers. We will continue to promote advocacy at IIDA New England events and are beginning to strategize new events, either co-sponsored with ASID or MiDC, to deepen our collaborative bonds. We are also in the process of a kind of rebranding so that the voice of advocacy continues to be united across local organizations and to keep it relevant for multiple populations. In particular, our future goals include a broader spectrum of participation from student members so that as they mature into the professional realm, they have a clear understanding of our mission and our message, hopefully ensuring their continued support throughout their careers.

What do you wish other designers knew about advocacy and the legislative process?

In the grand scheme of things, designers should understand that it’s a living, breathing movement — one that needs an ever present voice until we receive full professional equality and recognition within the law. It literally is the future of our profession and that is why it holds such significance. On a more intimate level, designers should also know that advocacy is not just about legislation. It is also an opportunity for support and education. It is a forum for celebrating our accomplishments and brainstorming new ideas for those designers who come after us.


For more information about advocacy in the Interior Design profession, visit the IIDA Advocacy page.