Occupational Licensing

Will Michigan Create an Interior Design Guild?


Last month, Michigan state senators Judith Emmons (R-Clinton County) and James Marleau (R-North Oakland) introduced a bill that would force interior designers to obtain a license before performing any of the myriad services that constitute interior design for paying customers. (It will still be legal to shop for furniture, arrange pillows, recommend color schemes, and select ergonomic chairs for oneself.)  

The bill (S.B. 1325) creates a Board of Licensed Interior Design, which would ensure designers spend a combined six years attaining a degree and apprenticing experience before passing a national test. Not coincidentally, these are the same requirements that enable one to join the professional association, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), that is pushing the law in an effort to create a nationwide interior design cartel.

It isn't the ASID's first trip to Michigan—similar measures failed in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009—after legislators specifically excluded interior designers from a law regulating other professions passed in 1998.

Via Michigan Live:

"Anyone in this state can claim to be an interior designer with no education, training, or experience putting the public at great risk," said Linda Thomas, president of ASID's Michigan affiliate, the Coalition for Interior Design Registration (in support of the failed 2007 bill).

There is a yawning, gaping, utter and profound abyss in place of empirical support for the claim that unlicensed designers threaten the public. The bill's sole purpose is to endow a handful of designers, who don't feel customers should be free to select less-credentialed competitors, with a regulatory cudgel to restrict entry into the industry.

If passed, the law would be Michigan's most onerous—no other middle-income occupation faces a six-year licensing hurdle. (According to the Dictionary of Occupation Titles, median wages for interior designers in 2011 came to $47,620.)

The law as written would force many would-be designers into debt and price people out of an otherwise attractive career. In addition to earning diminished wages for two to four years as an intern, tuition for designers starts at $5,000 for two-year associate's programs at community college and costs as much as $135,000 for a four-year bachelor's degree (College for Creative Studies).

Consumers don't care about these credentials. Of the top 25 designers (complete with celebrity-studded client lists) in Los Angeles, as identified by the Hollywood Reporter this week, a grand total of two have bothered to register with the California Council for Interior Design, a private certification group with entry requirements similar to the ones in danger of being enshrined in Michigan law.

It hasn't been a good year for the interior design cartel. In California, a bill that would have replaced optional certification with state licensure went down in flames this April after the bill's sponsor (Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco) had trouble identifying any public health and safety justifications to skeptical fellow legislators. ASID-backed bills also failed in Colorado, Oregon, and South Carolina—thanks in large part to anti-licensing interior designer Patti Morrow, the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and the American Institute of Architects who show up to committee hearings to make the principled case against regulation—in 2012.

See here for an archive of Reason's interior design coverage.

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  1. Video not found: http://s3.amazonaws.com/reason…..eo_741.flv

  2. “””””Anyone in this state can claim to be an interior designer with no education, training, or experience putting the public at great risk,”””

    Oh, no, they could mix stripes with plaids.

    1. Anyone can claim to be acting “in the Public Interest?” in this state, too.


  3. I look forward to the Republican governor of Michigan telling the legislature not to waste its time, because he’ll veto this bitch.

    1. Last month, Michigan state senators Judith Emmons (R-Clinton County) and James Marleau (R-North Oakland) introduced a bill that would force interior designers to obtain a license

      1. Governor Nerd been known to not sign him some bills sent by the “R” majority legislature.

        He’s also been known to go along with some dumb shit, but thankfully not much.

        Hopefully he’ll hold true to the former rather than the latter…

  4. Think of all the abandoned houses in Detroit? if they let just ANYONE redecorate them, it could ruin the place! Why is reason against abandoned Detroit property values?

  5. Government makes valid, well-reasoned decisions all the time. All the time. But do these glibertarians care? No because their god is the free-market where nothing ever goes wrong, and nobody ever acts against the interests of others.

    How can we trust people? You cannot trust people, that’s why we need people in charge. To make these decisions. So we give the most trustworthy people, based on popular acclaim discovered via the process of voting, the power to make sure everybody else is not untrustworthy.

    And that’s why we need this guild. People are not quite up to deciding what they need in an interior designer. So they vote for the people who create the guild and then tell them what to do. It would be a perfect system if only SOME people wouldn’t keep undermining it with their loose talk about how the untrusty market place is best at making these decisions.

    You can’t make these decisions for yourself, only the people you decided to elect can decide to make these decisions. That’s how it works!

    If you don’t like these decisions then in two or four years you can decide to choose someone else to make decisions for you.

    1. You’ve got a point. I mean, how can you trust just anyone to be a mechanic?

      I don’t know about you, but I certainly can’t trust just anyone to work on my car. The wheels might fall off!

      I propose that we have national licensing for vehicle mechanics! It’s the only way we can be safe! Please, government, save us from the scourge of unlicensed car mechanics! Think of the horror that might happen if just anyone was allowed to work on a car! It’s for the children! For the children!

      1. For that to work there would need to be a bundle of feedback mechanisms wherein a mechanic can be checked for his competence and integrity. There is no way to access this information or present it in useable forms for people to use short of inventing some science-fiction type thing.

        Since that sort of thing does not exist the only way to go is to have mechanics that the government grants a monopoly to and pays with tax money, thus they are undistracted by the fear of competition and where their wages come from.

        Without these distractions they can better concentrate on working on your car and you get better results as a result. See how that works?

        Of course you idiots don’t understand even simple economics. So you don’t see how it works.

        1. Of course you idiots

          So kind and respectful! It’s no wonder everyone clings to your sage wisdom!

  6. Look, if you saw the interiors of some of the homes in Michigan, you’d understand what’s driving this. It’s like a desert of orange shag carpet and avcocado appliances.

    The horror…

    Lord H – amirite or what?

    1. Its just like how all the pastels and neon in Miami forced FL to license their interior designers.

  7. Does this mean Michigan can have guild wars? If you are going for post apocolyptic medival style meltdown, and Michigan most certainly is, why not go all of the way? How long before Grand Rapids is declared a “free city” and the Upper P is known as the Borderlands?

    1. Already got the Guild Wars. UAW trades versus AFL-CIO trades for construction work in the state. LET’S GET IT ON!

      Oh, wait…that war was cancelled on account of “No Fucking Work Available – THIS IS FUCKING MICHIGAN. Abondon Hope, All Yee Who Enter!”

      Never mind.

    2. Did somebody say . . . Borderlands?

    3. Not many people still in Guild Wars now that Guild Wars 2 is out. I wonder what their guild tag is, I’ll have to try to find them.

    4. Michigan and in particular Detroit should be the next Fallout setting. They should just take photos. I’m thinking Michigan would be a great place to set up as The Enclave’s heartland.

  8. Must be a last ditch effort to drive all private-sector non-bailout jobs out of the state.

  9. Guild implies quality and careful craftsmanship, so I’ll go with “No.”

  10. Today I learned that someone named ” Linda Thomas” is a lying, rent-seeking twat.


  11. An interior designer who grown in interior environment by family background and finally elected the field as a career and today delivering excellence in interiors and also did several interior projects in under his association for some of Mumbai’s best architects like Arch. Sameep Padora, Arch. Mahesh Punjabi and Arch.Reza Kabul. Now after years of experience in designing and execution with blend of residential and business interior projects finally Mr.Rajveer sets his own organization named DELECON DESIGN COMPANY and delivering his services as a turnkey interior designer and consultant for wide range of interior projects in commercial, residential & hospitality sector. After more than a decade experience in residential and commercial interior design and architecture, Rajveer has a breadth of experience that includes every facet of the design and construction project. “His fine tune ideas and great design solutions present you the beautiful live image of your dream space.”

    Best interior designers in mumbai
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  12. Anyway the first reason to do that is preventing un-professionals from pretending to be interior designer, Howvever, that still allow you to do the small things like choosing the bathroom color schemes, and shopping for furniture through the best furniture brands. So, There is no harm from doing that for your safety. Don’t forget that the interior designer will go into your home, So it could be better to be licensed and well-known.

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