My Fox column…

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

…this week takes aim at the interior design cartel.

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13 Responses to “My Fox column…”

  1. #1 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I’ve always resented the fact that, even though I have a four year engineering degree, earn all of my income from engineering, and am an engineer by profession, I can’t call myself a Professional Engineer. I’m not opposed to the concept of certification, although I would prefer that it not be a government function. I just don’t like having such a generic term owned by an entity that wants to define it narrowly for their own purposes, especially when they have their eyes on total control of the profession.

  2. #2 |  Bot | 

    Why Radley, you’re trying to “lower standards” and “remove protections” that potentially threaten the “safety of our children.” From the ASID’s Why License Interior Designers:

    ” Without the ability to regulate and discipline a profession, a jurisdiction cannot protect the public.”

    Got that! We’ll like all frick’n DIE man.

  3. #3 |  Kate | 

    It’s not just interior designers that are targeted through title or practice act legislation. Landscape Architects are taking aim at landscape designers, garden designers, and landscape contractors. All states have landscape architecture title acts, meaning that if a person does not become an apprentice or pass an exam they cannot use the title ‘landscape architect.’ The American Society of Landscape Architect is pushing legislation through the states to change title acts to practice acts. A practice act means that any one who performs the functions defined as the ‘practice’ is violating the law if they are not a licensed landscape architect. This has curtailed the services provided by thousands of small business in 40 states. In Oregon it is now illegal for a landscape designer to specify how a gravel walkway is to be constructed and what materials are to be used. In Washington (state), three trade organizations were successful in blocking this harmful legislation this year. However, we know it will come up again next session. Practice acts are just another form of anti-trust actions that hurt small business and the consumer.

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    And one more thing…

    If there’s anything that Consumer Reports,, and ebay have shown us, it’s that concumers have the capacity, with current technology, to identify (and often protect themselves from) bad merchants. And they do it more efficiently than any government oversight organization could ever have hoped to.

    Licensing should be replaced with the same mechanisms.

  5. #5 |  Nathan | 

    If you can’t beat ’em, legislate ’em away. Those silly amateurs, obviously they don’t know how many innocent lives have been destroyed by unlicensed furniture arrangers. Sheesh.

    In fact, there were actually more complaints filed in the regulated states.

    Imagine that… incentive to provide a quality good or service decreases once there isn’t any competition.

    Nice Lebowski reference, too.

  6. #6 |  Bot | 

    Dave K. is smack on. Also from the lovely aforementioned document:

    “Additionally, it allows consumers a means of addressing grievances with interior designers and prevents unethical designers from continuing to practice.”

    Right. A government agency will penalize practitioners for ethics violations. Maybe, just maybe consumers would refuse to hire a crappy designer (lawyer, doctor, author, mustard cook, etc.)

  7. #7 |  Mike H | 

    Hopefully, this will teach everyone who conspires to move furniture illicitly that there are consequences to their reckless and officially unaccredited actions.

    And if these black-market aesthetes don’t cease and desist, we have every right to send in SWAT teams armed with tasers and tape measures.

    A well-appointed Decor Czar would be a breath of (jasmine-scented, properly qualified) fresh air, in my opinion!

  8. #8 |  JSB | 

    I, too, agree with Dave K. I do a great deal of my transactions online (paying bills, buying clothes, movies, tickets to sporting events, books, etc.) and I learned very quickly how to spot a shady online business (and I didn’t get ripped off at all) or an ebay auction that didn’t seem quite right…

    The thing that really scares me in this whole situation is not that these groups of “professionals” are trying to lock down their trade (they’re just reacting in a sort of primal-instinctual/selfish-greedy sort of way to try and keep themselves “safe”), but the fact that the state governments are more than happy to legislate these laws into existence. There will always be greedy people who want all the power or control over others within their little sphere of existence, but these people are inconsequential unless the people with the power agree with them.

    The whole notion of requiring a college degree for things like interior design is asinine for two reasons: 1) a college degree does not automatically make you the best you can be and 2) there are many people with incredible skills and natural talent that would not need a college degree to understand interior design principles.

    My only comfort is this: I’m glad that I don’t want to be an interior designer.

  9. #9 |  Kieffer | 


    I normally agree with most of your posts and articles, but this time you’ve totally missed the mark. You just don’t get it on this issue.

    I once saw a room where an unlicensed designer had placed a replica Tang Dynasty vase in a room CLEARLY designed in a late Yuan Dynasty motif. It was tragic.

    Who will protect the children?!

  10. #10 |  Radley Balko | 

    Excellent use of the “I normally agree with just about everything you write” intro, Kieffer.

    It’s one of my favorites.

  11. #11 |  A.G. Pym | 

    I wonder when we’ll see the first prosecutions of Feng Shui practicioners under this law?

  12. #12 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    You guys laugh and scoff….just last year, I attempted to paint a room myself with NO professional guidance. BIG MISTAKE!!! I made the horrendous, uneducated error of using a flat instead of a semi-gloss for the trim….thankfully, no lives were lost due to my arrogant and foolish attempt to choose paints and do the job myself. Next time, I might not be that lucky. Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children!?!?!?!

    Seriously, what lame ass needs to hire a freaking decorator???? I want it white…off-white will work too….a beer theme is good…throw in some Packers paraphanalia and posters….its good. I need a freaking licensed decorator for that? Do I need ANY decorator for that? Please. I guess I’m not metro or homo enough to care…maybe I just have too much testosterone to worry about what color goes with melon…white does…I think.

  13. #13 |  Chris | 

    Mr. Balko,

    Excellent points, as usual, though I was a little surprised that you didn’t touch on a related idea. The more professions and activities that are licensed and regulated by the state, the more people will simply expect that they need permission from the state to perform any particular activity. And we all know that the state will be more than happy to oblige citizens with such positive, cooperative attitudes by meddling in everything they can get away with.