Letters To The Editor

April 1, 2003
Letters To The Editor
Editor's Note:
The following letter was received in response to the article, "The Value A Professional Interior Designer Brings To Residential Design," authored by Judith Harris Fermoile, ASID, board member of the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), which appeared in our May 2003 issue. Interiors & Sources welcomes all letters from our readers, and in keeping with Mr. Boutin's request for a Letters to the Editor column, is printing his comments here, along with a response from Judith Fermoile.Dear Ms Fermoile:I just read your article in the May issue of I&S magazine. How disappointed I was in how you glossed over the differences between the knowledge one has who practices residential design and one who practices commercial design.I believe you really misled the readers. "The difference between the two areas is in the terminology that is used." How simplistic and misleading that statement is. Just because the NCIDQ wants to homogenize the test to include both areas doesn't give credence to your statement.It is true that a designer taking the NCIDQ certification test must know both commercial and residential design. Unfortunately that is often where that knowledge is left.I see too many residential designers who have passed the NCIDQ exam years ago, but who have not a clue about commercial building systems. That "book learning" is now ancient history, not everyday practice for them, and often is forgotten. Even your own state has the Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design. They recognize the difference.You made some good observations in your article, but it is obvious by your comments that you are primarily a residential designer. I wish IS magazine had a forum where practitioners could respond in print to articles such as yours. Perhaps in the future a "letters from" column could be added to the publication.As a postscript, I have come across architects who do specialize in residential architecture, and say so. It is true, however, that most do not put that on their letterhead. It is also true, however, that most architects, when asked, will state they do interior design as well.Sincerely,Jack Boutin, ASID
J. Boutin, ASID, Tenant Space Planning & Interior Design
Atlanta, GA
Judith Fermoile's Response:Mr. Boutin may have missed the point of the article: it was not to gloss over the differences between commercial and residential interior design, but to focus on the fact that a professional who designs a residence or a commercial office must have knowledge of building codes and fire codes. The NCIDQ exam tests applicants on both residential and commercial safety issues. A certification examination exists to protect the public by ensuring consumers that a professional meets minimum competency. An interior designer who has passed the NCIDQ examination is aware of residential and commercial building codes—he or she has to be in order to pass the examination.It is possible that Mr. Boutin has encountered "residential designers who have passed the NCIDQ exam years ago, but have not a clue about commercial building systems." Similarly there are professionals in other careers (architecture, engineering, accounting, etc.) who may have passed a certification/registration examination years ago, but whose knowledge is not current with today's practice. Because of this phenomenon it is imperative that professionals take continuing education classes to stay current. In addition, those states that legally recognize a profession (at this writing 24 U.S. jurisdictions and eight Canadian provinces legally recognize interior design—including Mr. Boutin's state of Georgia), have a mechanism to protect the public by disciplining a professional who violates the statute. The Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design defines Residential Design as follows: "Residential designers are similar to architects. Residential designers' projects are restricted to single-family dwellings and multi-family dwellings not over two stories and with no more than four units in each structure. Residential designers prepare plans, specifications and contract documents in relation to building and designing residences. They administer the construction, provide preliminary studies, consultations and evaluations and offer advice and direction in relation to their projects. Residential designers often collaborate with other design professionals and consultants throughout the design process. (Consumer Information Web Page & Nevada Consumer Guide)."In answer to Mr. Boutin's statement about the type of practice I have: I practice both residential and commercial interior design.

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