The Jan. 18 commentary “Need a license to do your job? That may be excessive” urged Congress to pass the Restoring Board Immunity Act (RBI), which would “establish that individuals who serve on occupational boards are not subject to antitrust liability provided that their state has implemented clear occupational licensing reforms.”
I am vice president-elect of advocacy for the Northland Chapter of the International Interior Design Association, which represents more than 15,000 commercial interior designers, manufacturers and other industry professionals worldwide. Educating the public about the value of commercial interior design is my organization’s top priority.
My concern is that this commentary misrepresents the commercial interior design profession and may confuse readers about the interior design laws here in Minnesota.
The author implies that interior design is not a highly skilled profession. However, the built environment that interior designers impact has become increasingly complex over the past few decades, requiring them to follow life-safety, fire and building codes, American with Disabilities Act standards, as well as best practices for space planning, sustainability, green building and ergonomics.
The typical commercial interior designer has a bachelor’s degree in interior design and years of experience working on complex interior environments. In fact, the University of Minnesota, where the commentary’s author is a professor, has a top-tier interior design program, in which one can pursue not only an undergraduate degree, but also master’s or doctoral degrees with an interior design focus.
To set the record straight, Minnesota has a voluntary interior design certification available for interior designers to pursue. The International Interior Design Association advocates for a voluntary interior design certification that allows those highly educated interior designers to show their credentials. We never want to restrict any of the many paths to become an interior designer. In fact, anyone in Minnesota may call themselves an interior designer. Those who pass rigorous registration exams, have appropriate degrees and have adequate work experience can use the title “certified interior designer” to demonstrate their level of competency in the field to clients and employers.
Certification protects both the client and the public, ensuring that if an interior space does not meet the appropriate standards and building codes, legal action can be taken.
Additionally, the interior design certification is overseen by a board that also includes architects, engineers, land surveyors, landscape architects and geoscientists (MN Board of AELSLAGID). The presence of multiple professions on a single board minimizes the risk of antitrust issues, as what may benefit one profession could easily create a cost for another profession on the board.
Interior design certification assures Minnesota business clients and consumers that the commercial interior designer does in fact have knowledge of the life-safety, fire and building codes that impact the health and well-being of Minnesotans, who on average spend 90 percent of their time indoors.
Finally, certification of interior design is far less restrictive than the licensing of all other professionals who participate in construction projects.
Allison Stratton is vice president-elect of advocacy, International Interior Design Association — Northland Chapter.