By: Sara Kotarski
In the fall of 2019, I had the pleasure of attending my first IIDA Advocacy Symposium. The 5th annual conference was held in historic Boston, Massachusetts, and featured a variety of speakers, panels, and Q and A sessions, all relating to advocacy for the Interior Design profession.
Having just recently passed the NCIDQ and becoming a registered Interior Designer that same year, I know firsthand the technical detail, knowledge, and experience it takes to deserve this certification. It was great to spend a few days around like-minded designers, who understand why registration matters in our industry, and are willing to educate and advocate for the legislation it requires.
Here’s a quick list of my top three takeaways from the symposium:
- Nobody knows what Interior Designers actually do –
- The first and most shocking thing I learned was that the public has no idea what Interior Designers actually do. The first step in convincing non-designers, such as legislators and senators, to support our cause is to educate them on our profession and why registration is important.
- There is a misconception that the work we do is purely aesthetic. In reality, the work we do significantly affects the health, safety, and welfare of the public. A few of the speakers at the conference focused on giving tips and tricks on how to confidently articulate the functions and impacts of our job as it applies to the legislation we are seeking. The word of the weekend was…EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE!
- Indiana legislation is pretty good, but could be better –
- Currently, only 26 states in the US have some sort of legislation in place, and Indiana is one of them! Cool! Indiana has had a Title Act in place since 2009 that says individuals must pass a set of requirements (the NCIDQ exam) before being able to identify themselves as a Registered Interior Designer (RID).
- Some states, such as Texas, have additional legislation that allows stamping and sealing (non-structural) construction documents for submission to local building officials for approval and permits. This is huge for our profession, and eliminates the need for an architect or engineer to do this on our behalf.
- Unfortunately, many states still do not have any legislation in place…or even worse, have it currently but are facing deregulation bills. One example of a state where this is happening is Florida. We had the opportunity to hear from the IIDA South Florida chapter president, who spoke to us about the ways they are rallying support and campaigning legislators to fight this deregulation bill.
- Interior Designers are a passionate bunch –
- Overall, it was truly inspiring to spend these two days with other Interior Designers from all around the country. I met so many people with different backgrounds and levels of experience, who all connected over this one, common goal. Every seminar ended with an enthusiastic Q and A session, where we all openly chatted about our different challenges, achievements, and goals for the profession. It was truly a great thing to witness, and I hope I am able to attend next year to continue the discussion!