ASID Update: Truth Be Told

May 19, 2009

The American Society of Interior Designers looks to clarify its position on the issues surrounding interior design legislation.

With all of the misinformation flying around the Internet these days concerning ASID and our position on regulating the interior design profession, I think it might be useful to take a moment to discuss with you a few of the facts on this topic from a more informed perspective—directly from ASID itself.

I would like to clear the air of some of the misconceptions of our Society that are being repeated by various anti-legislative groups that have sprung up recently.

The phrase “interior design legislation” means different things to different practitioners: from protecting our right to practice the profession of interior design to the full scope of our abilities, or establishing the state registration of some interior designers to allow them to provide certain services, to enacting the definition of our profession into written state law. Regrettably, for some it now connotes exclusion and protectionism, and that has created discord among us as professional interior designers. Some of our members have been led to believe that ASID supports legislation in order to restrict the practice of interior design to a specific portion of its members, without regard for how this would affect the rest of the members.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We who serve in leadership positions for ASID recognize the need to speak plainly about this complicated issue and confirm the Society’s support of ALL its members.

During our business meeting in January, the ASID board of directors spent considerable time examining the Society’s legislative position from many points of view. It was a healthy discussion that helped to clarify our intent and sharpen our purpose. To prevent further confusion or distortion of our position, we want to be sure all our members—and the profession at large—know where we stand:

ASID will continue to support legal recognition of the interior design profession, but not if that recognition prevents individuals from offering basic interior design services as they have in the past. (Such services, of course, must comply with building codes or other statutes.)

As a professional organization, ASID exists to support the growth of our members’ practices and to advance the interior design profession. One way we do this is through advocacy. We advocate because legal recognition is an essential element of any profession.

And while members’ practices vary, every ASID members’ right to practice interior design (just as they have always practiced it) is the overarching goal of everything that ASID does and every legislative action that we support. We want you, as an ASID interior designer (or a member of the profession at large), to be able to practice interior design to the fullest extent of your capabilities.

In fact, it is our further goal to not just maintain but widen your scope of practice—to make your professional practice truly match your skill and knowledge areas.

The interior design profession is diverse, and our membership practices a myriad of design specialties. This diversity in practice, knowledge and skill—this broad representation of the industry that we see as a hallmark and strength of ASID—is one of the reasons ASID has grown to some 40,000 members today. Sure the travails of the economy will probably cause some temporary attrition of that membership, but we have found over the years that during difficult economic times, our Society usually thrives if we maintain value for our members in our member services, our educational offerings and our opportunities for connectivity. ASID can serve as an anchor of professional stability during times of market and employment uncertainty.

Many of our members find that they need us now more than ever. We are part of their brand, and a way for them to differentiate themselves as professionals in the marketplace. We are a source for education, networking, referrals and job opportunities that can help them gain an edge in a difficult economy. And for designers who have lost a job or possibly even a business, ASID helps professionals stay connected with the industry until they are working again.

We are doing our best to be there for our members in any way we can. In the very broadest sense, our goal is to support your business, regardless of your unique practice. For some, this means fighting to expand your scope of work—work that you are educated to perform but restricted from executing by current law. For others, it’s providing support on regulatory issues regarding small businesses, taxes, sustainable design, and building codes.

No two states have the same definition of interior design or have the same laws in place. We cannot control the language jurisdictions enact, but we will make a commitment to support legislation that:

  • Does not restrict the practice of interior design—if not already regulated by building codes or other statutes
  • Does not restrict anyone from using the title “interior design” or “interior designer”
  • Allows state-qualified interior designers to use the title “registered,” “certified” or “licensed” interior designer
  • Creates opportunities for designers to practice to the fullest extent of their abilities

ASID has grown from 24,000 to more than 40,000 members since 1991 and we’re proud to be a leader in the interior design profession. To all of you unaffiliated interior designers, I say, ASID is committed to your right to practice your profession. (Why not join us?)

And to our members, I say, with your input, your hard work, your ever-expanding knowledge, and your commitment to our great profession, we intend to keep leading and growing ... whatever the future brings.

ASID president Bruce J. Brigham, FASID, ISP, IES, is an award-winning interior designer and authority on retail and lighting design. He is principal of Retail Clarity Consulting, specializing in retail design and brand development, based in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with clients in the United States, Hong Kong and PRC China. ASID can be reached at (202) 546-3480 or [email protected], and on the Web at www.asid.org.

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