IDC Bulletin: It's a Two Way Street

June 23, 2009

When it comes to promoting the value of design, practitioners must wage a continuous and unrelenting campaign.

Let’s take stock for a moment and look at what it is we do as interior design professionals.

We are about providing direction and vision on the sensible and logical use of space. We enhance the health and wellness of where we live, work and play through design. We are advocates for maintaining cost efficiencies and environmental responsibility. We take a holistic view of our craft to provide better results by embracing the best of technology and producing innovative ideas that raise industry standards and benefit our society as a whole.

We are theorists as much as we are building technology authorities. Our knowledge of materials and the inherent codes and compliance rules and guidelines for construction are second to none. We work tirelessly and will always challenge conventional thinking, mundane approaches to problem solving, and the misconception of craft in design.

These are pretty heady attributes for the design profession. Problem is, I don’t think our industry sells our ability to deliver on this level as effectively as we could.

Could this be why, for example, we are perceived by much of the general public as non-essential dilettantes (as seen on “train wreck” TV decorating programs) providing paint, pillows and the fluff factor in order to deliver another consumer-oriented, shallow form of entertainment (and revenue source) for cable television?

Could this be why we are constantly challenged on our professional fees and scope of work because of a lack of understanding of the nature and value of our services?

Could this be why we are often the first area of cost cutting due to the perception of our deliverables as being largely aesthetic and lacking importance?

“We have the opportunity to market ourselves as viable problem solvers, business strategists and visionaries—adding real value to homes, businesses and other built environments.”

Why do we not make more spirited attempts to properly position ourselves as highly skilled practitioners with years of formal education, examination and collective experience? How do we get the message out that we, like other registered professionals, are required to abide by codes of ethics, regulations and professional conduct that are in place to serve and protect the general public?

Ours is a young profession, compared to others, and we have the opportunity to market ourselves as viable problem solvers, business strategists and visionaries—adding real value to homes, businesses and other built environments.

I encourage all of us to take steps to promote the business of design; to get the message out as much as we can and to broaden our audience as much as possible; to establish a foothold in the construction process; to help set our course for the future; and to guarantee a voice that is recognizable and audible in an ever congested field.

It is a quid pro quo world in many respects, and we need to take advantage of any opportunity to validate this profession and give designers the recognition and respect that we deserve. Life is indeed a two-way street, and we need to wake up to the fact that, now more than ever, this industry needs to establish a selling proposition that speaks with volume, clarity and conviction. We cannot afford to take an introverted stance on who we are, and what it is that we do as interior design professionals.

Jim Toy is the principal and founder of False Creek Design Group (FCDG). FCDG is known for responsible and sustainable design and was one of the first LEED-accredited interior design firms in Vancouver. More information about IDC can be found at www.interiordesigncanada.org.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of I+S Design, create an account today!