The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) recently announced the passage of House Bill 4715 in Illinois, which recognizes interior design as a distinct profession in the building industry. The passage of Bill 4715 outlines the essential role of interior designers in the construction process as trained professionals with extensive education not just about design elements, but also about building standards and jobsite safety.
What’s Included in Bill 4715?
The new legislation will expand the capabilities of interior designers by granting them with individual permitting privileges to oversee and approve plans involving safety codes, fire hazards, ADA-friendly features, and other critical elements of the built environment, a responsibility previously only given to licenced architects and engineers.
“Interior designers bring an extensive body of knowledge, experience, and care to their profession, and this legislation reaffirms their impressive qualifications,” said ASID CEO Gary Wheeler, FASID in a joint press release following the bill’s passage on June 11. “We are grateful to the state of Illinois for recognizing the profession’s value and empowering designers to be true custodians of health and safety in the built environment. ASID is committed to advocating for our members, the profession, and the public as we continue to lead the national movement around practice rights.”
What It Signifies
The passage of Bill 4715 is an important achievement for advocates of interior design as well as industry professionals who were not formerly given equal practice rights or jurisdiction over their design plans. Not only does a wider acceptance of modern interior design create more professional advantages and career opportunities for designers by allowing them to open and run their own firms, but it also paves a pathway for inclusivity for a female-dominated field in a male-dominated construction sector.
“Interior designers are highly-skilled professionals who must have significant qualifications to pursue a career in the industry,” said State Representative Margaret Croke. “This bill will allow designers to stamp their own design plans for non-structural construction, removing an unnecessary barrier for those in the industry. Interior design is a traditionally female-dominated industry, and I’m proud to lead efforts to ease the challenges they face.”
Will Other States Follow?
House Bill 4715 comes after the passage of similar bills in Wisconsin in 2022 and North Carolina in 2021, further broadening the acceptance and responsibilities of interior designers across the country. Senate Bill 188 in North Carolina and Senate Bill 344 in Wisconsin both gained bipartisan support and codified the rights and abilities of interior designers into legislation, creating a precedent for other states to follow. The question is, will they choose to do so?
The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) has been working closely with the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) for years to push for interior design legislation, and according to Marci Merola, the director of advocacy for IIDA, legislation is currently working its way through state governments in Nebraska, Iowa, and Alaska.
As bills similar to those passed in Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Carolina gain momentum across the United States, some architects are questioning why legislation for interior design wasn’t created sooner. Proponents of interior design regulation say that allowing interior designers to stamp or seal remodeling plans will “increase competition in the construction industry and enable interior build-out projects to be delivered faster,” the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports.
ASID-IIDA State Advocacy Plan
In partnership with IIDA, ASID has developed practices for state advocacy to engage lawmakers on legislation involving interior design professions. According to ASID, Phase 1 of the ASID-IIDA State Advocacy Plan involves a checklist to determine objectives, strategies, and financial resources from each individual chapter. In the initial phase, volunteers will undergo education and training seminars and fundraising efforts will commence before visits with legislators begin.
Phase 2 of the ASID-IIDA State Advocacy Plan seeks to expand each chapter through fundraising, co-hosting events, and community outreach. In this stage of ASID-IIDA advocacy, the Phone2Action is implemented to reach interior designers and members of the professional community who support the advocacy efforts and ongoing campaigns in their individual states.
The Advocate by Design (AxD) Fund is also established by ASID to educate the public and policymakers on the responsibilities of interior designers and the policy issues impacting interior design professionals. The AxD Fund is not a Political Action Committee (or PAC) donated to politicians or candidate for public office, but instead, it enhances the work of ASID’s Government and Public Afairs Department and gives ASID and its chapters a voice in national, state, and local policy debates and discussions, ASID says.