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.

 

The Student Perspective: Orgatec 2016

Today’s post is written by Kelsey Ballast, Student IIDA, winner of the inaugural IIDA Booth Design Competition at Orgatec. The competition provided students the opportunity to design a trade show booth at this year’s Orgatec Trade Fair in Cologne, Germany, on Oct. 25-29. Kelsey received an all-expense-paid trip to Orgatec to see her design concept realized, courtesy of Vitra, as well as a tour of the Vitra campus.

The amount of incredible design that I have been immersed in over the last couple of weeks has been completely overwhelming in the best way possible. I was fortunate to have been selected as the winner of the IIDA Booth Design Competition at Orgatec, where I was flown to Cologne, Germany to attend Orgatec, an event billed as “the leading international trade fair for the modern working world.”  

As I wandered through the chaos that was the day before Orgatec’s opening, hoping to find the IIDA booth, I was overwhelmed and in awe. The mess of boxes and people running around setting up complicated and massive showrooms made me feel a bit anxious to see my design. I was hoping that it all came together and would be able to fit in among these other impressive spaces.

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Kelsey inside the booth she designed with IIDA International Board Members (from left) Scott Hierlinger, IIDA, LEED AP, Marlene Liriano, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, and Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, and James Kerrigan, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C. All the furniture in the booth is by Vitra.

As the booth came into view, relief overcame me when I saw that it had actually come together. The team wandered through the booth, but I found myself observing. Seeing the team interact with the space – knowing the thought and intention behind it all – I was overjoyed. 

On the first day of the show, we arrived early to get all of the IIDA brochures and accessories in place. At 9 a.m., the PA system echoed through the halls, signaling the show was now open. Not 30 seconds later, crowds of people were streaming past our booth. Visitors stopped in and took photos of different areas and elements in the booth. I did not expect this at all! As the day went on, the atmosphere around the booth was very positive. The space was used exactly as I had hoped – as a place of respite and relaxation for visitors to sit and have a conversation with one another or just kick their feet up for a minute.  

I was also able to spend time exploring the hundreds of showrooms spanning almost 1,400,000 square feet. The part that amazed me the most was that all of these showrooms were constructed solely for the show. They were all within large halls, so each vendor constructed their own architecture to define the space.

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Shots from Orgatec. Inside the Cascando booth.

It was such an eye opening and inspiring experience to explore the madness that is Orgatec. The amount of innovation, new companies, and variety widened my perspective of the industry and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of a career in interior design.

The next part of my trip was a tour of the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, which is near the border of Switzerland. The hillside surrounding the campus was covered in the warm golden tones of the changing fall leaves and harvested fields. The juxtaposition of nature’s perfection with the clean lines of the many buildings at the Vitra Campus was something from a dream. I witnessed the brilliance of multiple architects’ and designers’ work, including Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Zaha Hadid, just to name a few. 

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Exterior of the Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid Architects.

These buildings were like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced before. Every element was intentional and thoroughly designed in the purest way. But don’t take my word for it: Check out vitra.com for a virtual tour of the campus. 

I am so thankful to IIDA and Vitra for providing me with this opportunity. Everything I was able to do and see has altered my view of design for the better and enhanced the way I see and will execute my designs going forward. My time in Germany has taught me that design should reflect authenticity, purity, and the value of experience, and that’s a lesson I won’t soon forget. 


See Orgatec from Kelsey’s point of view by visiting the IIDA HQ Instagram feed and searching #iidatakeover.

 

Energized and Engaged: Advocacy Symposium Recap

Have you ever had a weekend that made you feel a part of something bigger than yourself? During the innaugural IIDA Advocacy Symposium, Sept. 11 – 13 in Austin, Texas, I did. Over 90 people attended, staffed, or spoke at the symposium, where the energy was infectious. Interior design advocates from every IIDA Chapter but one listened, talked, learned, advocated, and shared their experience, advocating for the Interior Design profession. The event highlighted the passion, dedication, and persistence of amazing design advocates from across the country.

“Teamwork, tenacity, and clear communication are the key to advocacy,” Rep. Celia Israel said. And she couldn’t be more right. The rest of the presentations echoed her sentiment. But we can’t just rely on social media. Rep. Israel added, “Good advocacy can start online but it has to hit the streets.” The key to advocacy is to talk to everyone! Some fantastic IIDA members took it to heart. Corinne Barthelemy, IIDA, LEED AP, and Aimee Schefano, IIDA, from the New England Chapter had a cab driver tell them about a previous group of interior designers who had been advocating to him earlier in the day! He couldn’t believe all the things interior designers did.

In addition to Rep. Israel’s presentation, we heard the story of Melanie Bahl, IIDA, President of IDEAL–Utah, and Amy Coombs, IDEAL-Utah’s lobbyist, who have worked tirelessly to introduce interior design legislation in the state of Utah. Amy shared this quote with us: “To rise above the din and be heard, voices must be linked in something approaching unison.” Interior design advocates must share the same message to be heard about all the other voices. Donna Vining, IIDA, FASID, shared her bountiful knowledge on empowering and mobilizing advocacy efforts in the state of Texas including having meaningful events and building a great team of advocates.

One of the best parts of the weekend were the opportunities for advocates to share with fellow advocates techniques and strategies that worked or didn’t work and why. Among many amazing ideas, advocates advised making strategic relationships in your community like working with the Special Olympics, adding a $1 fee to all events that will go towards advocacy, and being agile because sometimes you’ve got to embrace a new direction. I can’t wait to see the amazing initiatives and events this will inspire!

The symposium wasn’t all talk though. We toured the impressive Texas State Capitol and learned about Texas state government and the architecture and interiors of the building. Everything really is bigger in Texas; their capitol dome is taller than the U.S. Capitol dome!

A special thanks to the wonderful Texas and Oklahoma Chapter who served as the host chapter for the first Advocacy Symposium. Krystal Lucero, IIDA, RID, and Clara Karnei, IIDA, RID, took over the IIDA Instagram account and did a fantastic job capturing the spirit of the event. Check it out!

We can’t wait until the 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium! We’ve barely scratched the surface of what it means to be an interior design advocate. Next year’s IIDA Advocacy Symposium will take place on Sept. 23 – 25 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Denver, Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Chapter will serve as host chapter. Stay tuned for more details as they become available!


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.

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 

DESIGN CHALLENGE : ICONIC REINVENTION

The always innovative and ever-expanding company, Unbranded Designs, has created the Iconic Reinvention Design Challenge – a breakthrough competition centered around timeless furniture revitalized for a modern lifestyle. Participants are asked to select an iconic piece of furniture and recreate it, making it relevant to today’s manufacturing processes or materials, or the way people live today.

“This competition is all about reinventing classic furniture you love,” said Sameer Dohadwala, Co-Founder and CEO of Unbranded Designs. “These items are staples of the industry with the opportunity to reimagine them for modern day.”

Contestants can win prizes ranging from T-shirts, a featured blog piece, and as much as $1,000 in cash. However, entering the Challenge can bring far more benefits for a designer than prizes can provide. The opportunity to gain exposure as an innovative designer and have your work seen and judged by some of the biggest names in design; Jason Hall (Charlie Greene Studios), Chris Hacker (Herman Miller), and Harry Allen (Harry Allen Design), could be the most invaluable reward of the Challenge.

“The biggest reason to take part in the competition is the recognition you receive when you enter, and when a project is selected,” said Dohadwala. “It’s also an amazing outlet to grow as a designer and have your work critiqued by some of the biggest firms in the industry. It’s truly a great learning experience.”

Unbranded Designs is a global community that helps discover Design ideas and distribute them to industry professionals. Their overall goal is to support and connect cutting-edge designers to manufactures around the world.

“Unbranded Designs is really about empowering designers,” said Dohadwala. “Our philosophy is to introduce our designers to big markets.”

Submissions for the Reinvention Design Challenge are due by July 23, 2014. For more information on Unbranded Designs and the Iconic Reinvention Design Challenge, click here.