Interior Design Protection Consulting

October 26, 2010

Student speaks out against NCIDQ, interior design licensing

Student Exposes Truth About NCIDQ Exam and Licensing

This is probably the best post we’ve ever received.  It just came in as a reply to an article I posted ( couple of years ago, but I can’t take the chance of it getting buried — EVERYONE needs to read this, especially the ASID/NCIDQ/CIDA Cartel.  It proves EXACTLY what we’ve been saying!:

“You’re 100% right – there are not enough experienced designers out there who are giving the newbies a chance to “sit” and those that do give this opportunity, are usually cruel and unjust, not to mention they rarely follow the apprenticeship guidelines. (uuhhh, like give us the chance to get our feet wet by letting us do the tough stuff).

As for the NCIDQ exam – talk about raping someone of money! OMG. I think I’ve spent a total of $2,000 at this point. The questions they ask require so much analysis it’s no wonder 50% fail it multiple times. I keep running out of time analyzing them. Because the reality is – Not every interior design firm operates EXACTLY how the NCIDQ council “claims” is the “official” way of the entire industry. For instance, I “sat” under Architects, and their system was fairly different than the NCIDQ’s. So I had to buy all kinds of books and reprogram myself, but when I would read a question on the test, there were moments when I would have to recall my real life experience and compare it to the NCIDQ books. WHOOPS. Times up! You fail! Example: What’s considered a part of the “Schematic Design” phase is often times very subjective.

And what’s up with the NCIDQ judges who judge Part 3? They probably have to fail half the people b/c this is how they make their money. Designing what normally would take at least a week, in three hours? SO lame. Even more lame was how they threw in a huge ADA factor – my client was in a wheelchair and he wanted a classroom designed for photography students which had to include a darkroom and this was directly adjacent to the office space we had to design. What the heck? Honestly, most of my studying for the test was on what system to use so that I could finish it on time. I hate the NCIDQ council AND their ridiculous exam. It needs to die! I spent over $60,000 to get a BFA in ID, spent over two years working 60 hours a week for $30,000 a year for architects who lorded over me b/c they didn’t take interior designers seriously, had to move back to my parents to pay my school loans, then got laid off b/c of the sucky economy right before taking the exam, only to fail it. Ironic that I failed too considering I gave the Architects I worked for a run for their money. I know I’m skilled. I LOVE interior design with a heartfelt passion. Yet honestly, I have no choice but to give up at this point. There are no jobs and if there are jobs, it’s almost impossible to find them. And if one does find one, the job probably requires the 3d software they DIDN’T learn in college not the one they DID learn. Speaking of which, there is always a new version of the software coming out and I can’t afford  it and I’m not into stealing copies. So, I think the decade I’ve invested into the field of interior design has been enough. Sadly my college, although one of the best, operated much like the NCIDQ council and they have been no help to me. Really, really sucks. Goodbye Interior Design. Hello – reception job? Oh it gets better. Now people won’t hire me b/c they think all I can do is interior design and they don’t really understand what the field is about. Even after I explain  all the transferable skills there are between project management and office administration. It’s just SO sad. All of it.

This includes you Harrington College of Design. What a bunch of liars. Money hungry thieves who get 22 year old kids to the point where they are so broke (b/c they have no time by jr./sr. year to even think about a job but are most likely slaving away at their full time internship for free) that they have to take out personal loans with 15+% interest rates! Little do they know that when they graduate, they are screwed. Not exactly easy to pay off and get ahead when it’s hard to even get paid $25,000 a year as an entry level designer.

Sorry, but someone had to say it.

Signed. . . “Frustrated”

September 21, 2010

Interior Design Cartel’s Attack on Economic Liberty

Clark Neily, Senior Attorney @Institute for Justice

The Cartel’s Attack on Economic Liberty

For as long as there has been government, private industry groups have sought to manipulate the levers of power to promote their own selfish interests.  In medieval Europe those efforts gave rise to the guild system; in England, they led to Royal monopolies on the sale of everything from wine to playing cards.  Indeed, government-backed monopoly power was actually among the causes of the American Revolution; for example, the famous Boston Tea Party was actually a protest against a Royal monopoly granted to the East India Company on the importation of tea to the Colonies. 

In throwing off the yoke of British rule, among the Founding Fathers’ goals was to substantially reduce the ability of government to play favorites in economic affairs, as the British government and corrupt local officials had been doing.  The same is true of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was added to the Constitution following the Civil War with the specific purpose of securing key civil rights—including economic liberty—to all citizens, particularly newly freed African-Americans, whose ability to earn an honest living was nearly destroyed by the infamous Black Codes of the time. 


July 19, 2010

Two statements from NCIDQ that render their own exam irrelevant

The following unsubstantiated statements from the NCIDQ website need to be exposed and addressed:

“While it is important to possess more than health, safety and welfare knowledge to be a competent practitioner, the public is concerned only with the core attributes. Subject areas, such as furniture styles, aesthetics and architectural history do not affect public health and are therefore not tested in the NCIDQ Examination.”[1]

These statements effectively serve to render the NCIDQ irrelevant on two different levels:

  • As usual, NCIDQ fails to cite any bona fide research or empirical evidence to support their assertion about “public concern.”  The truth is, the public is NOT at all concerned that unregulated or non-NCIDQ designers are placing them in any form of jeopardy whatsoever.  There has been NO public outcry from consumers indicating that they have been unfairly treated, physically harmed or that they are confused about interior design services.

NCIDQ advocates that mandatory licensing via their exam is necessary; however, the public does not lack the ability to make informed choices about who they retain for design services; they are quite capable of reviewing portfolios and websites, interviewing potential designers, checking references and checking private certification credentials offered through various organizations to determine what level of designer fits their project.  They do not need, nor is it appropriate, for the government to take this decision out of the hands of the consumer and dictate who they may or may not hire.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission concluded that interior design regulation (and by default, mandatory NCIDQ) would result in higher costs and fewer choices for the consumer.  Now THAT is something to be concerned about!

The public is NOT clamoring for regulation, nor do they care whether or not their designer is NCIDQ-certified.

  • The NCIDQ is widely considered to be irrelevant because it does not cover the actual work most interior designers perform on a daily basis, and is allegedly skewed 82% commercial.  They argue that “furniture styles, aesthetics and architectural history do not affect public health and are therefore not tested, even though proficiency in those areas clearly are integral components for the “competent practitioner.”

We repeat, since the neither the NCIDQ nor any other entity have ever presented any evidence to prove that non-NCIDQ or non-regulated interior designers have harmed the public, the entire basis for the NCIDQ is moot.

“What separates the truly great designers from the mediocre is artistic vision, not a superior ability to place air conditioning units where they will not obstruct wheelchair access.”[2]

For more information on how the ASID/NCIDQ/CIDA Cartel use their own self-anointed version of the so-called “Three E’s” to exclude fair and qualified competition, please read the only factual, thoroughly researched and documented industry white paper dedicated solely to this issue:

“Three E’s” Myth of the Interior Design Cartel


[2] Attorney Robert Kry, IDPC Amicus Brief, Locke vs. Shore, US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals,

May 5, 2010

“Three E’s” Myth of the Interior Design Cartel

How the Cartel Uses Their Own Self-Annointed Version of the “Three E’s” to Exclude Fair and Qualified Competition

Proponents of the interior design regulatory scheme (a.k.a. “the Cartel)[1] have long advocated a single entry method into interior design under the guise of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public.  Their self-anointed standards are known as their “Three E’s” – Education, Experience, and Examination.

Education, experience and examination – individually or jointly – can and should be used to attain a higher level of proficiency as well as used to gain a better marketing position.  But the so-called “Three E’s” should not be used to stifle fair competition.

For more than 30 years, cartel members have worked furiously, spending over $7 million dollars lobbying to establish their own self-interested qualifications as the minimum standard for the practice of interior design.  Their definition is based on their own limited view of minimum competency, but in reality, the closest description we have to an “industry standard” definition is taken from the Department of Commerce, emphasizing the nature of the work.[2]

Despite 30 years of lobbying, ASID and its allies have failed to produce any evidence that interior design work impacts or jeopardizes public safety, thus negating the need for creating a regulatory scheme for their Three E’s.

Until 2006, the Cartel had a measured amount of success in defining interior design.  Although its attempts to get practice acts adopted – which is their true goal – almost always failed, 21 states have fallen victim to their incremental regulatory scheme by adopting titling laws.  The recently established and growing effort to resist and repeal regulation (a.k.a. “the Freedom Movement”) has rejected the Cartel’s doctrine which is wholly based on conjecture, rhetoric, opinion, scare tactics, and other misinformation, and has defeated over 100 individual pieces of legislation that would have expanded or enacted new regulations across the country – and not a single new title or practice act has passed since 2006.

Are aspirations to higher education, gaining hands-on work experience, and achieving (private) certification wrong?  Absolutely not.  Those are all valid ways to enter the profession, either together or separately.  What is totally unacceptable is the government’s mandating a single entry method as the only way to practice.  Creating such a monopoly is antithetical both to the basic spirit of creativity that characterizes the practice of interior design and to the notion of free markets and consumer choices. As attorney Robert Kry explained in a friend-of-the-court brief he wrote for IDPC in a challenge to Florida’s interior design law,

“What separates the truly great designers from the mediocre is artistic vision, not a superior ability to place air conditioning units where they will not obstruct wheelchair access.”[3]

In order to continue to effectively beat back the Cartel’s mission to monopolize the entire industry, grassroots activists need to be aware of the Three E’s, and be armed with factual information to rebut them.

This paper documents the positions falsely portrayed by the Cartel as standard, but proven by the Freedom Movement as merely optional.

Click here to read entire white paper Three E’s Myths of the Cartel”:

[1] American Society of Interior Designers, National Council for Interior Design Qualification, Council for Interior Design Accreditation, and International Interior Design Association

[2] Designed to Mislead, Dick Carpenter Ph.D., Institute for Justice,

[3] IDPC Amicus Brief in Locke vs. Shore, No. 10-11052EE (11th Cir). 2010 available at

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