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How Deregulation will Affect You

Deregulating interior design doesn’t only affect Registered Interior Designers. First and foremost, deregulating interior design will affect the public. Of course interior design students, recent graduates, and their families who have just spent thousands of dollars on a professional education will be affected. And if you’re a sales representative or vendor, this bill will directly affect you and your pocketbook. Even other design professionals may not even realize yet how this will impact them. The saddest fact of all, is that deregulation will negatively affect unlicensed designers and the residential interior design industry.

If you’re not sure what this means to YOU, keep reading.

Members of the Public

Registered Interior Designers ensure the public spaces you use every day are designed properly and safely with materials that protect your health, safety, and welfare. Registered Interior Designers are trained in fire codes, accessible design mandates of the Americans with Disability Act, and many other important areas of design that affect your interaction with public buildings. In fact, Registered Interior Designers carry the primary legal responsibility for the safety of the interior environment, NOT BUILDING DEPARTMENTS. To put it simply, every time you enter a public space and do not slip on the floor, when you or your loved one who is disabled has enough room to maneuver comfortably and move quickly in an emergency, or when you simply enjoy your experience – it is the work of a Registered Interior Designer.

It’s also important to note that Registered Interior Designers are currently recognized as professionals, just like Architects, or Lawyers. Registered Interior Designers submit legal, binding documents to Building Departments and accept liability for their own work. Registered Interior Designers do not currently need to be overseen by any other professional, and work within their scope and in conjunction with the other disciplines to create the public spaces you use.

Registered Interior Designers

We cannot emphasize enough that if Interior Designers are not removed from this bill, you will not be allowed to work on commercial projects without the supervision of an Architect. If you already work for an architecture firm, under their license, you will lose a valuable and marketable credential because your clients still like to know they are working with a professional of the highest competency. This also means that although you are currently paid as an educated professional, at a similar pay scale to an engineer, your job will now require absolutely no training whatsoever. This has the risk of effectively reducing your pay to that of an entry-level draftsman. You took the right path to become a professional and your hard work will be for nothing. You will never have the opportunity to own your own commercial design business, and you will always need the supervision of someone who is not trained in the same field of knowledge as you.

Unlicensed Designers/Residential Designers

The unlicensed designers and residential designers have been promised access to the commercial design market. Unfortunately, the facts just don’t add up. We’ve asked many architects and code officials to review the proposed changes to Florida Building Code and Florida Statute, and they’ve all come to the same conclusion – NO ONE will be allowed to work on commercial projects without the supervision of an architect. What does this mean to you? It means that every Registered Interior Designer currently operating their own business will now be forced to go after your residential clients. While we still feel it’s in the best interest of the public to have professionals who are educated and tested in code working on commercial design (whether architects or registered designers,) we welcome your competition if you are working under the supervision of a licensed building professional. We are not trying to limit your right to work, we are simply trying to protect our own – as well as the safety of every Floridian.

Interior Design Students

If this bill is passed, the status of our profession will be forever changed in Florida. This means the cost of your education, your hard work & sacrifice, and your expectation of a professional career as it stands currently are in jeopardy. While your degree will still be proof of your advanced training and knowledge, your path to the NCIDQ exam will be more difficult, and the job market will become even more crowded as recent graduates work to find positions in architectural firms. According to NCARB studies, 40% of architects are unemployed in Florida; you will now be competing with them, as well as other interior designers.

Please fight for your education! Explain that your educational program is teaching you much more than aesthetics; you are learning how to implement Florida Building Code in interior spaces. Your training is much more specific than any architectural program in this area, and you should be allowed to practice commercial interior design without the supervision of an architect in the many situations where designers are currently allowed to do so.

We cannot emphasize enough that the students who have reached out have had more influence over our legislators than anything else.

Architects, Landscape Architects, and Engineers

If you’ve worked closely with a Registered Interior Designer, you know our knowledge complements yours and does not compete with it. Interior Designers appreciate and respect your work, as you do ours. You know that although there is overlap as we work, each of us is trained  in our own specialty, and that this is why every discipline has a section in our legally binding construction documents.

Architects, Interior Designers, Engineers, and Landscape Architects are the built environment’s accredited and credentialed professionals; all of us sharing education, experience, testing, and continuing education as evidence of our training and level of responsibility to our clients. Together, we have advanced the quality and safety of Florida’s built environment. If one of us fails to connect that message with the public, it will affect the ability of us all to. Think of the best examples of commercial design in Florida, or the best from your own office. These projects involved all our professions working together.

Many of our architectural colleagues support us on this issue – if you do as well, please speak out.

Sales Representatives and Vendors

If this bill is passed Architects and Engineers will be the only professionals permitted to work on commercial projects. We know that 50% or more of your sales come from Registered Interior Designers. Even in most architecture firms, it is the licensed interior designers on staff with whom you have built strong relationships and who carry the knowledge of your products to the clients spending the money. We appreciate those who are supporting us in this battle. Please consider having your company write a letter to the House of Representatives on our behalf.

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