Interior Design Protection Consulting

April 28, 2011

IJ Rebuts ASID Falsehoods


On Tuesday, April 26, it was reported that the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Designers Association (IIDA) sent a joint letter to President Haridopolos and Speaker Cannon regarding the proposal to repealFlorida’s interior design law. The letter is largely fictitious and, as usual, provides no supporting data or references. 

We believe that important policy decisions should not be made on the basis of unsubstantiated assertions or outright falsehoods. Accordingly, the Institute for Justice offers this response to the ASID/IIDA letter, complete with supporting data from which readers may draw their own conclusions.  (A copy of this statement, with hyperlinks, is available at

ASID/IIDA Claim: “Currently interior designers are not required to be licensed by the state and are part of an already unregulated profession.” 

Response:  This claim is demonstrably false and contradicts ASID’s own statements in federal court. 

  • Florida Statute § 481.223(1)(a) states that a person may not “[p]ractice interior design unless the person is a registered interior designer . . . .”  Violation of that provision is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison.
  • The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website has a page that asks “What services require a state of Florida license?  Interior Designers.” It goes on to explain that “If you are going to hire someone to design the interior of a commercial structure he/she needs to be licensed.
  • In a brief submitted to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010, ASID described the issue as whether “Florida’s ban on the unlicensed practice of non-residential interior design” violates the U.S. Constitution and concluded by arguing that “Florida has a legitimate constitutional right to mandate that only a licensed interior designer . . . be permitted to practice interior design.”
  • The Board of Architecture and Interior Design has pursued disciplinary actions against more than 600 people and businesses for providing or offering to provide “interior and commercial design services” without a license and advises people that “only persons or firms licensed by the State of Florida may engage in the . . . activities” of “offering interior and commercial design services.”

ASID/IIDA Claim: “Deregulation will eliminate commercial interior designers and create a monopoly for design services.”  “ [R]egistered designers . . . will no longer be allowed to sign and seal construction documents.”

Response: This claim is grossly misleading because it fails to provide necessary context.

  • Under current Florida law, interior designers are not authorized to sign and seal construction documents that affect structural, mechanical, ingress/egress, or other “lifesafety” systems.  Construction documents that do not affect lifesafety systems do not have to be sealed by an architect, engineer, or other building professional and may be submitted by non-licensed persons at the discretion of local building officials.
  • Notably absent is any context or support for the tacit assertion that the livelihoods of commercial designers depend significantly on their ability to stamp and seal construction documents.  In reality, interior designers are rarely called upon to sign and seal construction documents for permitting purposes on commercial projects.
  • Any concerns about the ability of interior designers to sign and seal construction documents can easily be addressed by other means than occupational licensure.  Such language has been provided to the Legislature and could easily be implemented with support from ASID and IIDA, which they have so far withheld, presumably because their true concern is not signing and sealing construction documents but maintaining their government-backed monopoly on commercial design services inFlorida.

ASID/IIDA Claim: “Deregulation will cost Florida businesses tens of millions of dollars in increased costs to the consumer and lost revenues to the state” and “Florida businesses will suffer by paying an additional $50 million per year due to the elimination of competition for interior design.”

Response: These figures appear to be entirely made up. 

  • In contrast, a study performed by economists at KenyonCollegecalled Designed to Exclude concluded that interior design regulations drive up prices, limit choices for consumers and disproportionately exclude minorities and older, mid-career switchers from the interior design field.
  •  The number of state-licensed interior designers inFloridahas been steadily diminishing; the current figure provided by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is 2,560 active registrations out of more than 5,800 that have been issued since 1994.  The Department reports that approximately 60% of those 2,560 interior designers were grandfathered-in and do not possess the requisite statutory credentials for licensing.
  • Eliminating unnecessary statutory prerequisites for practicing interior design—prerequisites that most state-licensed interior designers do not even possess themselves—will expand opportunities and enable all interior designers to compete on a level playing field, just as they do in the 47 states that do not license the practice of interior design.


The letter submitted by ASID and IIDA to President Haridopolis and Speaker Cannon contains demonstrable falsehoods and unsupported assertions. We hope and expect that these groups will be asked to explain their misrepresentations and document their assertions and that their credibility will be judged according to the response they give—or fail to give.


  1. To whom it may concern:

    I have been looking at your page in constant search for the “proof” your council continuously says it has against ASID/IIDA. Unfortunately, I still cannot locate it. Every link I have visited has lead me to YOUR webpage again and every other website I have looked at with proof, leads me to Professional Websites including ASID, IIDA, and most importantly the NCIDQ. I have also been linked to the Florida Government website where the HB5005 and HB5007 is listed and includes all the information that these professional websites are writing about. That seems like you are misguiding the general public.

    Also, there is something else I am confused about…why are you targeting ASID and IIDA when they DO NOT offer licenses to anyone? Shouldn’t you be targeting NCIDQ since they are the only organization that administers the exam to be licensed Interior Designers?

    Comment by Nikole Dixon — April 28, 2011 @ 7:07 pm |Reply

    • Nikole – you obviously did NOT spend any time looking for proof, because it’s all there, right in front of you. This article has 11 hyperlinks, and only 2 go back to the IDPC website – and those two links are to (1) the list of disciplinary actions obtained from the Smith, Thompson (prosecutor) website, and (2) ASID’s own legal brief. The fact that those two documents have been posted on IDPC’s website doesn’t make them any less legitimate evidence. Every link in the entire article brings the reader to the exact document, statute, or statistic being referenced – without exception. If you took the time to actually read the documents at the end of each link, you’d be “guided” to all the proof you need.

      Please send me the links you refer to for the pages on ASID and IIDA websites that show conclusive and verifiable proof of their claims – thus far, no one has been able to find any bona fide substantiation for their opinions, and worse yet, to validate their blatant falsehoods, such as “Florida’s law is voluntary” and “Florida is an unregulated state.” Disproving such claims is like taking candy from a baby, and has the additional effect of discrediting everything else they say. Nikole, don’t be fooled by their self-aggrandizing! ASID is not a “professional” website or organization – professionals do not make deliberate, false statements or intentionally mislead designers, students, and the public. Their continued use of these tactics, even after exposed, is an abomination to the interior design occupation.

      As to your assertion that we don’t target NCIDQ, I can only say that you don’t know a thing about IDPC or our work, but I sincerely hope that you make an effort to change that. We consistently expose the duplicity of ASID, CIDA, and NCIDQ, a.k.a. “the Cartel.” To fully understand why we call them the Cartel, I would encourage you to read our published white paper, “The Myth of the Three E’s of the Interior Design Cartel,” which is the industry standard on this topic.

      For more “proof” about ASID’s false statements and IDPC’s successes in beating back their efforts to monopolize the interior design industry, please visit our website. And not just visit, but actually read the factual, statistical and empirical evidence which can be found throughout the site. Thanks for taking the time to post your concerns.

      Comment by IDPC — April 28, 2011 @ 9:29 pm |Reply

      • I have read your White Papers on the so called “cartel”. I have read all of your “documentation” that you have said proves that ASID, IIDA, CIDA, and NCIDQ are lying. I have also read articles where you state that students are being lied to by their professors who are in an effort to take their money.
        How and why do you feel that students are being taken advantage of? It seems to me that students that are going to school for Interior Design are attending because the student wanted to go to school and learn about codes, about sustainability, about the design process and about Evidence Based Design and Psychology.

        In your White Paper, you state that there is no proof that Interior Design hinders the Health, Safety and Welfare of the general public. I beg to differ. According to Licensed Architect, and I will give you the link so tha toyu can read for yourself, there is proof that Interior Finishes, which are indeed specified by Interior Designers, did in fact impede on the Health Safety and Welfare of the General Public.

        The NCIDQ has an interactive Health Safety, and Welfare tour that shows you how and why each action that is taken in the Interior Design profession is to protect the public.
        This is why students attend classes, educate themselves, gain experience, and take that final examination so that they can be experts in the field and perform well. You say that it is a waste of time, not relevant and has no proof.

        If a student is attending college, they are spending the money because they wanted to gain knowledge in the field. They intern because not all knowledge is obtained in a classroom setting. Although the basis is taught to the student, many see these scenarios that were learned in the classroom are now applicable in the real world. Students are learning the IBC (international building code) in classes, they are learning professional documentation, how to write a contract, how to specify materials and furniture that fits the users needs. They are learning how to design construction documents, how to design and draw details and why walls are rated for fire codes and the tests associated with HSW protection.

        In your videos, you state that Deregulating will provide more jobs. They will not provide more jobs, because Architects and Contractors know that people who are unlicensed generally do not have the common knowledge that licensed or even educated designers or soon to be designers possess.

        By deregulating Commercial Interior Design, you also will not be able to practice Commercial Interior design because only licensed Architect will be the only ones responsible for signing and sealing documents. If you are wanting to be equal to licensed Interior Designers, then why are you fighting to become deregulated? Deregulating the profession only makes it less in the favor of people wanting to become designers to do so.

        If decorating is what you want to achieve, then you do not have to have an education to do so. Decorating in a residential setting requires no education but it is the adorning of a space.
        To fight to become equal with someone is not necessary when you are not trying to achieve the same goals.

        For the record, ASID is a professional website AND organization. IIDa is a professional organization and NCIDQ is nationally recognized organization. I have done my research and I have READ and UNDERSTOD exactly what they are trying to say. I believe that through experience, I believe ‘The Cartel’s” side of the story right now. all the proof seems to be in their direction. Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t you a not-for-profit organization as well?

        Comment by Nikole Dixon — April 29, 2011 @ 4:00 pm |Reply

        • Ah! I told my colleagues I suspected you were a student! Since it’s obvious that you’ve been thoroughly indoctrinated with the Cartel’s agenda since Day One, I understand where you’re coming from. I’m actually surprised and delighted that you’re taking the initiative to research the Freedom Movement’s agenda. Bravo! I’ll try my best to answer your questions, even though some of them were already answered in my last message to you.

          Students are being taken advantage of because they are young and impressionable and are allowed to hear only one side of the story. Did you ever stop to wonder why you only learn about the licensing scheme from your pro-regulation professors (who stand to gain monetarily from regulation)? It’s because their schools do not allow speakers who advocate design freedom to come in and address the students. Why is that? What are they so afraid of? I can answer that – they are afraid that the truth will be heard and students will begin to think on their own! You may be interested in an extended e-conversation I had last fall with the Dept. Head of NYSID, available here.

          I agree with you that students go to school to learn about all aspects the touch interior design. If you read the “Three E’s” you’d know that I addressed this. Education is always valuable, as a way to increase knowledge, learn new skills, and as a marketing advantage. What they don’t (or shouldn’t) go to school for is to get exclusive access to a state mandated, unearned advantage, and their professors are coercing them into marching in lock step with their own personal political agenda that this is the only way students will be successful or recognized as a “true professional” instead of through the work they produce. That’s not a legitimate reason to spend money or time on an education in interior design. If it’s your desire to enter the occupation via the 3 E’s, then by all means go for it. But neither you, nor the government should force everyone though a single-entry method into the field. Competence is best judged on the basis of work produced rather than credentials alone.

          As far as the health, safety and welfare issue, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but not your own set of facts. There is not a shred of evidence to warrant a conclusion that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy. 12 government agencies have studied the issue, and without exception, ALL concluded that interior design regulation would add absolutely nothing to protect the public beyond measures already in place. Those 12 reports can be found here. If you know of any unbiased reports that have reached a different conclusion, by all means, please send them to me.

          The link you sent me provided no evidence that any of those fires were the result of negligent design by unregulated designers. In fact the MGM Hotel and RI nightclub fires are used by the Cartel all the time. These arguments have been thoroughly debunked here and are one of the main reasons why IDPC has been successful in helping to defeat nearly 120 bills which would have expanded or enacted new interior design regulations in the last 5 years. Legislators are interested in facts, not scare tactics.

          The NCIDQ website has its own opinion, but offers no substantive proof that licensing is needed to protect the public. If that were the case, then we would not have 47 states practicing design without regulation – and without harm to the public. This is just another example of students swallowing everything being force-fed down their throats without a single, verifiable morsel of proof.

          Your assertion that “Deregulation will not provide more jobs because Architects and Contractors know that people who are unlicensed generally do not have the common knowledge that licensed or even educated designers or soon to be designers possess” is totally without substantiation, or even makes sense. In 47 states, architects and contractors routinely work hand-in-hand with unlicensed interior designers without complaint. Are you seriously saying that a “soon to be designer” has more knowledgeable than someone who has been successfully practicing in the field for 20 years? Good grief! I’m going to give you a pass on that one and just chalk up such a foolish statement to childish immaturity. FACT: deregulation creates more job opportunities and offers consumers more choices and lower costs, as concluded by the Federal Trade Commission.

          The battle is for occupational freedom for interior designers. When you or others resort to using the “decorator card” as a sad attempt to disparage others who have come into the field through a different entry system, it is due to unadulterated frustration that real evidence to support a desire for licensing simply cannot be found. Some of the most highly respected, successful designers do not have an interior design education. For more information on this topic, please read IDPC’s amicus brief in the Florida legal challenge. And to learn more about occupation freedom, I suggest you read the U.S. Constitution.

          It’s your right to keep believing in the ASID/NCIDQ/CIDA Cartel if you so choose. You can also believe in the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny if it makes you feel better. But it’s a conscious decision based on bias, NOT on proof; there is no proof, just opinion, rhetoric and scare tactics. For the record, a professional organization should maintain a high standard of ethical, honest and responsible behavior — not consistently perpetrate falsehoods and inappropriately mislead unwitting students; therefore ASID is not a professional association. Period.

          Oh, and yes, IDPC is a 501(c)6 nonprofit. I haven’t a clue as to why you wanted to point that out. . .

          I regret that I will not be able to take more time to personally address your questions, but you can find the answers to any questions on our website. Good luck!

          Comment by IDPC — April 29, 2011 @ 7:20 pm |Reply

          • I have not been thoroughly indoctrinated with the Cartels mindset in anyway. Yes I have been taught why licensing is important but at the same time, I have gone on my own to research both sides of the story and formulate my own opinion on this issue.

            My question to you is, how did you become involved in the deregulation issue? Were you wanting to be a designer and someone told you that you had to go to school for it? Where did you attend school and did you get a Bachelors Degree in Interior Design? These are just a few questions that can justify your fight in the issue of Regulation.

            Students are allowed the ability to think on their own. Not one of my professors has ever force fed me to believe in ONLY deregulation. That is why I am contacting you since all websites point to you as the Mother of Regulation. We are encouraged to think on our own feet and come up with a solution that best benefits ourselves. While it is encouraged, it is not forced. Those are two different issues.

            A “soon to be designer” as you have put it, has more knowledge in the field but not more experience. From the time that they are in school, their learning comes from the latest up to date information. We are always using the latest software (AutoCAD 2011, ADOBE CS5 etc) to better our education. We have access to the newest design periodicals, journals, and educational white papers. These are all provided to us for free. Because we have teachers that are NCIDQ certified, we are also able to learn codes and hear from them actual instances where they had to deal with unlicensed interior designers who had ruined a space for a previous client. These things happen all the time.

            Deregulation in general might create more job opportunities for some professions; but as for Interior Design, there will be fewer jobs. Most people, when faced between two designers that say they both specialize in Interior Design will pick the one who has been educated, gone to school and received licensure REGARDLESS. They most often than not will pick that person compared to the designer that decided she or he was “fit” for Interior Design because they might have an “eye for color”.

            Some of the most highly respected, successful designers do not have an interior design education. This was your comment in your response to me and yet I have not located any names of these well respected designers. Who are they? Please refer them to me so I can see their success that you speak so highly of.

            Also what does the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy have to do with Interior Design? Everyone knows they are fictitious characters. There is proof that it is not real. As for my question regarding your not-for-profit organization, ASID and IIDA are both the same deal; except it seems to me that they have more proof than IDPC and the IJ.

            Also as a side note, why are you saying that Internships treat you like an indentured servant? I was not treated that way at all whatsoever. Maybe it was the person you interned for that treated you so harshly. I can speak for ever student that I know has been an intern and in not way shape or form have they been treated that way.

            I would like you to answer these questions and then I will be on my merry way. I am trying to obtain the facts as you say so that I can make a decision regarding my future.

            Thank You.

            Comment by Nikole Dixon — April 30, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  2. I am appalled at the disingenuous comments made by ASID/IIDA. Among the 600 people that were charged (presumably with the help of these organizations) was a friend of mine for designing a restaurant kitchen. This individual and his business are located in Orlando for over 30 years. He is an expert in this specialty field and yet the interior design law prohibited him from practicing. Even more egregious is the fact that these “Certified” interior designers know little about this industry that they had claimed control of. The same can be said for Rehabilitation centers, Operating rooms, Auto shops, Fire Houses, Manufacturing facilities etc. The non-structural interior layout of these specialty facilities cannot be done by the experts in their respective fields because they are not “Certified interior designers”. Those who want to open a new specialty facility will want get their interior fit out designed OUTSIDE FLORIDA!

    Comment by Elliot — April 29, 2011 @ 12:37 am |Reply

  3. […] The first was the claim that interior design regulation regulation in Florida is voluntary and that anyone who would like to do interior design may do so.  This is not true; Florida is one of only three states that have enacted a state-mandated regulatory scheme which prohibits unlicensed individuals from practicing commercial interior design.  Mr. Davis’ deliberately misleading statement and additional ASID mistruths have been thoroughly, factually, and empirically debunked in detail here. […]

    Pingback by ASID. . . or SNL? Press conference bombs! « Interior Design Protection Council — April 29, 2011 @ 4:16 pm |Reply

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