Interior Design Decertification – What’s the Big Deal?

Mar 13, 2017 | KSA Interiors

As Interior Designers, our skill-set is often misunderstood. Recently, we saw this with the attempt to decertify Interior Designers in the state of Virginia. Luckily, we found out about the bill early enough and were able to successfully defeat it. Why is this important you ask? Why does certification mean so much to us? Read on and find out!

Virginia Interior Design legislation came into effect in 1990 following the deaths of eight people in nursing home fires. Because interior designers specify furnishings and finishes, there has always been a distinct connection between health, safety, and welfare and interior environments. Buildings that are occupied by the public must be designed by those qualified by education, experience, and examination to provide interior design services. Certification or licensure for interior designers allows clients to identify those qualified individuals.  In Virginia, Certified Interior Designer (CID) is the appellation used to designate those qualified.

Education, experience, and examination are the key criteria to becoming certified or licensed in Virginia and other states. The Commonwealth of Virginia has an excellent reputation for providing interior design programs that are accredited by CIDA, the Council for Interior Design Accredited programs. Accredited programs assure the public that interior design education prepares students to be responsible, well-informed, skilled professionals who make beautiful, safe, and comfortable spaces that also respect the earth and its resources. The accredited programs in Virginia include Virginia Tech, Radford, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Marymount, and the Art Institute of Washington.

The recent problem came about because politicians did not understand what Certified Interiors Designers do. They claimed that Virginia Certified Interiors Designers cost the state money (we do not) and that we prohibit individuals from calling themselves interior designers. With the current certification law, anyone may use the job title “Interior Designer” but only certified designers can use the CID appellation. The CID appellation distinguishes those who possess the education, experience, and examination to provide interior design services for commercial, corporate, government, and institutional facilities.

Decertification would also create barriers to our ability to do business in Virginia and other states. It would cause the following:

  1. Removal of the ability of Certified Interior Designers to stamp and seal drawings.
  2. Elimination of opportunities for certification reciprocity with other states that require regulation. Many CIDs currently practice in Washington, DC through reciprocity.
  3. Increasing ambiguity within the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code and Related Laws Package in regards to scope of work for interior designers, and access to permitting in the preparation of non-load bearing interior construction.
  4. Requirement of interior designers to subcontract with architects, leading to increased costs for projects.
  5. Conflict with federal and state requirements requiring the hire of “Certified Interior Designers”, or those registered in the state in which the project is located.
  6. Removal of the voting rights of Certified Interior Designers who serve on the boards of professional corporations. This is a common business structure for many architecture firms which employ interior designers.
  7. Removal of the ability for Certified Interior Designers to act as the supervisor of a branch office of a professional corporation. This is a common business structure for many architecture firms which employ interior designers.

While the bill proposing decertification was dropped, Certified Interior Designers in Virginia must continue to educate the public on the value we bring to the health, safety, and welfare of the public.