Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Licensed to Design: Tennessee and Interior Designers

"Legislation Could Alter Interior Design Industry"
The Daily News, Memphis, Tennessee (August 17, 2010)

"When a patient makes a doctor's appointment or a homeowner hires an architect for a renovation project, he or she expects that doctor or architect to be a professional. And that term 'professional' is measurable.

"To earn their titles and become qualified to practice in their fields, doctors, lawyers, architects and other professionals must fulfill strict sets of educational and experiential requirements.

"Right now, the interior design field is not a recognized 'profession' in the state of Tennessee, and as such, interior designers' scope of services within the building industry is limited...."

Doctors? Lawyers? Architects? - and interior designers? I just about stopped reading there, but I'm glad I kept going. Since America runs on rules, and since larger companies are required to follow those rules: yeah, regulating interior designers almost makes sense.

"...'Interior designers are the only major design participants in the construction industry that are not licensed,' said Leslie Shankman-Cohn, a registered interior designer, partner in Memphis-based Jill Hertz Interior Design.... Because of that, interior designers - even ones who have voluntarily fulfilled the education, experience and testing requirements needed to become state registered and nationally certified - are not allowed to practice independently in certain commercial and institutional settings...."

I see the point: We've got rules that say that a company can't have someone come in and pick new wallpaper and carpets for the office, unless that person spent money to get certified - and that's a little rough on the folks who know what they're doing, but don't have a piece of paper that says they're okay.

Maybe Tennessee needs to set up another layer of bureaucracy, to make sure that its citizens are safe from unlicensed interior designers.

Or, maybe not.

I really don't know.

I do think that it's a bit of a stretch, comparing the legal controls over doctors, lawyers and architects to the situation with interior designers.

It's not that I don't respect what interior designers do. But look at it this way:
  • Somebody claiming to be a doctor makes a mistake
    • Somebody else dies
    • It happens with regulated doctors, too
      • But never mind that
  • Some dude says "I'm a lawyer" and makes a mistake
    • Time's wasted
      • Until someone who does know how the law works sorts out the mess
    Somebody claiming to be an architect designs a building
    • It gets built
    • People move in
    • The building collapses
      • Lots of people die
So, what's the worst-case scenario with an interior designer? The way I see it, some fellow comes in claiming to be an interior designer. He looks at the place, makes interior-designer sounds, and creates an ambiance that is not only over-budget, but hideous.

Nobody gets hurt, aside from maybe "emotional pain and suffering," and the fellow doesn't get another job.

My take is that having unregulated interior designers is a relatively risk-free, self-correcting situation. The people who know what they're doing get more jobs, and the ones who don't go into another line of work.

Maybe they become doctors.

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