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Northern California Interior Designers Bring Advocacy to Sacramento's Capitol Hill

Feb. 13, 2018

The commercial interior design profession has a series of issues that need to be addressed on a local level. Designers in Northern California visited the Capitol to bring recognition and advocacy to these problems.

In the last few years, several states have started to work toward a variety of bills or awareness campaigns that benefit the interior design profession. Each state has its own rules, regulations, and means of enacting laws, causing the process—or even what the intentions are—to become lost in translation.

Of 52 American territories (including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia), a variety of certifications for interior designers has come into effect, each with a different end goal and means to resolution.

Bill Weeman (III, IIDA, CID, senior project manager of Ware Malcomb), Shawn McLean-Bergel (IIDA, partner at McLean Bergel),
Sascha Wagner (AIA, IIDA, LEEP AP, principal and CEO of Huntsman Architectural Group),
and Collin Burry (FIIDA, LEEP AP, principal at Gensler San Francisco) attend California’s Capitol Day on February 13, 2018.

Organizations such as IIDA and ASID have worked to shed light on how individual communities and states can increase awareness for the issues surrounding the design industry.

In California, Emily Kluczynski, legislative affairs and public policy for IIDA, and Christina Marcellus, legislative activist for Capitol Advising Group, met with several commercial interior designers from Northern California on February 13. The goal: bring awareness of the interior design profession to their congressional representatives.

One of the most common misunderstandings when it comes to public policy advocacy is that every meeting on Capitol Hill must result in some sort of bill or legislative change. For the Northern California advocates, they did not approach their representatives with solutions to the industry’s problems, but rather brought attention to the fact any problems exist at all.

The main issue: Because there isn’t an interior design equivalent, a licensed architect must stamp and certify designers’ and interior architects’ plans (where required), which leads to lost time and money.

Wagner, Weeman, Susan Coddington (CID, IIDA, NCIDQ, president of CDG Interior Design and Architecture),
McLean-Bergel, Carlos Posada (IIDA, LEED AP, principal at Gensler Los Angeles), and Burry pose in the California State Capitol

Many fear that legislation to allow commercial interior designers to hold their own certification will exclude members of the industry, but the team in Northern California clarified that in no way do they want to create boundaries for those who wouldn’t be able to attain certification. Rather, they want to obtain the “means of being able to practice to our fullest” and be seen as “an equal design professionals” to architects.

In particular, there is a concern that those outside of the commercial interior design profession may misunderstand the occupation.

For example, Riana King, legislative aide for David Chiu, assembly member for the 17th district, met with Bill Weeman (senior project manager of Ware Malcomb, Shawn McLean-Bergel (partner at McLean Bergel), Sascha Wagner (principal and CEO of Huntsman Architectural Group), and Collin Burry (principal at Gensler San Francisco. During their meeting, the industry professionals discussed the differences between what King knew of interior design from resources such as HGTV and Instagram, and the realities commercial designers face.

As a country made up of a wide variety of people with individual needs and differing state laws, the future of legislation for the commercial interior design profession remains unknown. However, one thing is clear: The design industry will be moving forward in recognizing and addressing struggles designers face in addition to providing steps for designers to take to help promote advocacy.

About the Author

Kadie Yale | Former Editor-in-Chief

Kadie Yale holds a BA in Industrial Design from San Francisco State University and a MA in Decorative Art History and Theory from Parsons the New School. In her role as editor-in-chief from 2015-2018, she led the interiors+sources team in creating relevant content that touches on sustainability, universal design, science, and the role of design in society.

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