The American Association of Interior Designers sent the following letter in response to my Fox column:
Radley Balko’s description of the American Society of Interior Designers (in the March 24th issue of Reason magazine) as “bullying and cartel-like” is nothing short of outrageous.
Balko may think interior designers are no more than “pillow tossers”; but in fact they are professionals who are trained and evaluated, like all professionals.
Balko’s argument that the gap between amateur and professional is closing; that with a few weeks of study on the internet anyone can become an interior designer, is ill-informed. Would he suggest that lawyers, doctors and engineers get their training on-line?
Interior design is not, as Balko insists, a ‘fake profession’, anymore than architecture or engineering are fake professions. Building and designing space requires education, knowledge and expertise. This isn’t about flower arrangements or rug placement.
Interior design is more than aesthetic enhancement of space. Interior designers create spaces that are functional, efficient and safe, and enhance the quality of life.
When developing a design solution, an interior designer must consider ergonomics, dimensions, health and safety concerns, special needs, acoustics, environmental issues and the overall welfare of the occupants.
State qualified interior design professionals are educated, experienced, and have been evaluated to make sure they meet all the requirements to provide for the health, safety and welfare of individuals in both home and in commercial spaces.
Interior designers, for example, are trained to evaluate how spaces can best accommodate four-generation workplaces from strollers to wheelchairs. In their training they have learned how lighting and noise impacts productivity, how air quality can affect asthma and other health issues; and how fabric and flooring materials can provide the best protection against toxic fumes in the event of fire.
To call these professionals, who have been trained to protect the health and safety of their clients, “pillow tossers” is beyond insulting; it’s ignorant.
The members of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) work every day to provide spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also environmentally friendly, safe and healthy.
They can hardly be called bullies because they insist that professionals be licensed, anymore than the AMA would be for insisting that all physicians be properly trained and licensed.
The bully here is Mr. Balko and those he represents.
The ASID Board of Directors
Rita Carson Guest, FASID
Suzan Globus, FASID
Bruce Goff, ASID
Lisa Henry, ASID, LEEP AP
Mary G. Knopf, ASID, LEED AP
Barbara S. Marini, FASID
Patrick J. Schmidt, ASID
Teresa Sowell, ASID
Linda Sorrento, ASID, LEED AP
If ASID is really comparing interior design to medicine, I think they’ve proven my point about taking themselves far too seriously. If ASID were merely a professional organization interested in better educating consumers and designers, and were merely offering their good name and accreditation to designers who met some minimum standards, I’d have no problem with them.
But that’s not what they’re doing. They’re asking lawmakers to codify their notion of what interior design ought to be into law, to the point of excluding anyone who doesn’t meet their requirements from using the term “interior designer” under penalty of fines and jail time. That’s textbook protectionism. And they deserve to be ridiculed for it.