In response to strong opposition from a diverse coalition, the author of AB 2482, Assembly Member Fiona Ma, dropped her interior design Practice Act bill from further consideration, meaning it is dead. AB 2482 would have created a Practice Act for some interior designers, and, among other things, would have put many architectural firms under the regulatory authority of the proposed Registered Interior Designer Board.
The opposition coalition included the Community College League of California, many individual Community College Districts, the California Building Officials, California Legislative Coalition for Interior Design, National Kitchen and Bath Association, California Retail Association, Lowes, Home Depot, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, AIACC, California Architects Board, and many other groups and individual interior designers.
The community college and interior designer opponents were concerned that AB 2482 would create a tiered interior design profession and would restrict some interior design services to those designers who are qualified to become registered by the state, even though all interior designers are able to currently provide those services under existing law.
The AIACC and California Architects Board argued that before the state interferes with the free market by restricting practice, there must be clear evidence that the restriction is needed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. We then argued that there is no evidence of harm to the consumer or public caused by interior design, even though interior designers have been providing services in California for decades. See the AIACC letter AIACC letter here.
The proponents of AB 2482, mainly the American Society of Interior Designers and the International Interior Design Association, and including some architects and architectural firms, argued that state registration would recognize the growth, education, and experience of qualified interior designers, allow state registered interior designers to submit plans without architects in all jurisdictions, allow them to obtain federal contracts, and allow reciprocity with those states that regulate interior design (the opposition disagreed with and challenged each of these points).
Additionally, the proponents argued that, with the professional growth some interior designers have experienced over the years, commercial interior design services today are provided primarily by interior designers. At a legislative hearing on the bill, a lead proponent answered a question from a legislator on whether architects provide interior design services, in which she said:
That is not necessarily in their training. It is not something that they necessarily aspire to do … it has really become a very specialized field, so there are architects who work in the interiors environment … so it’s not that they can’t work in it, it’s really that the majority of interiors work is done by designers.
While the bill AB 2482 is dead, there is a way the issue can come up again later this year in a different bill. The AIACC will continue to work with our partners in opposition to AB 2482 in case this proposal resurfaces this summer.
Members of the AIA have opinions on both sides of this issue. Do you wish to state your opinion? Weigh in below.