Tuesday, July 8, 2008

ASID tactics leaves acid after taste for designers

Can you guess which of the four designs shown below became a criminal act, the GUILTY design firm slapped with a court order to cease and desist and faces criminal penalties and fines for design work?

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, a world class luxury resort, recently refurbished the Forum Tower Suites.

Atlantis Phase III, The Cove Tower, Paradise Island, The Bahamas

The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore

Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens Greece

The answer is none. These beautifully appointed and awe inspiring public facilities are the work of internationally known hospitality design firm of Hirsch Bedner Associates.

And yet, by designing equaling thrilling spaces in Florida and the same design firm faces criminal charges. Yes, criminal charges and fines for practicing design. And so it goes the highly acclaimed firm, Hirsch Bedner Associates, joins the growing list of design firms and other notable national designers, namely Kelly Wearstler from Los Angeles, hired to redesign the Tides Hotel in Florida; and Juan Montoya of New York, named to Architectural Digest's Top 100 Designers list, all who have been accused of designing without a certificate in the state of Florida, subject to criminal charges and fines.

Is it possible the building inspectors in Las Vegas, Singapore, Athens, the Bahamas were remiss in approving these stunning places? Were engineers, fire inspectors, architects, construction contractors, plumbers, electricians, city planners completely ignorant? Absolutely not. Designed and built according to local enforceable building codes in place, without which a project will not be issued building permits and a certificate of occupancy. Space planning and specifying materials must meet local fire, electrical, plumbing and municipal building codes without which a project will not pass inspection. This is to say that there is REGULATION in place for commercial and residential building projects by states and local municipalities.

Is this the effort of the state of Florida trying to protect the public's health and safety? Is this to say that Florida's existing codes are not adequate protection to ensure the health and safety of it's citizens? One must read the comments at Cote De Texas: ASID an agency out of control and http://brentwilliams.wordpress.com/ for further comment on Florida's ASID's heavy handed legislation.

If Hirsch Bedner Associates obtains the certificate to practice design in the State of Florida, will this ensure that the public is safer than it was without the certificate?

In the 30 years that ASID has been pushing for regulation, no evidence has been presented that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy.

See Probable Cause Panel Meeting at Florida's, BOARD OF ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN (click link to view the design firms in the thousands who have been accused of designing without a certificate). How much is this costing the citizens of Florida?

Here is the Hirsch Bedner Associates citation below:

Hirsch Bedner & Associates

Howard Pharr

Case No. 2007-068978

Probable cause was found that Hirsch Bedner & Associates of Atlanta, Georgia, is not licensed to practice interior design in Florida and contracted to provide interior design services on a commercial project. Further, Hirsch Bedner & Associates is offering these services without a certificate of authorization. An Administrative Complaint seeking fines will be filed and a Notice and Order to Cease and Desist will be issued.

American Society of Interior Designers, ASID, is hard at work to legislate their competitors out of business in the name of protecting the publics’ health, safety and welfare. ASID’s attempt to install Design Practice Acts in every state stands to create design cartels through a single-entry method into interior design. According to ASID’s own website, they retain a staff of full time attorneys and three lobbyists registered with the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Source: http://www.asid.org/legislation/.

ASID is up against a fight. When the goal of a few is to dominate the profession of the majority with anti-competitive and anti-consumer legislation, even ASID’s cadre of attorneys will not be able to counter the growing opposition. The public and several organizations who oppose anti-American, anti-freedom design cartels refuse to be silent and will oppose the legislation at every turn.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association, NKBA, has many concerns about these attempts to co-opt the interior design market.

“While interior designers are deserving of respect for their role in the design process, special legislative consideration is not warranted based on an objective review of the facts. In truth, these bills protect the economic interests of a few within the interior design community and in no way promote or advance any rational, justifiable or necessary public policy. As such, NKBA joins with the vast majority of the design community in opposing these unjustifiable attempts to monopolize the interior design profession.” Ed Nagorski, General Counsel, NKBA

Source: http://www.kbbonline.com/kbb/magazine/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003806153

As the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies put it, there is "no evidence of physical or financial harm being caused to . . . consumers by the unregulated practice of interior designers."

In vetoing interior design legislation last May, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels explained that the "principal effect" of the law would have been "to restrain competition and limit new entrants into the occupation." Mr. Daniels noted that interior designers were "hardly the only profession" seeking government protection from potential competitors.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701341410579079.html?mod=djemITP

Institute for Justice’s communications team provided key support, this time by bringing ASID’s cartel’s nationwide efforts to the attention of nationally syndicated columnist George F. Will, who wrote a devastating column about it entitled “Wallpapering with Red Tape.” The column left quite an impression on our friends in the resistance and even more importantly on our opponents, who were still reeling from IJ-backed battles in New Hampshire (where Clark testified against practice legislation in March) and in New Mexico.

Source: http://www.ij.org/publications/liberty/2007/16_3_07_c.html

Additional Opponents to Interior Design Legislation includes:
BSA (Boston Society of Architects)

NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association)

RAM (Retailers Association of Massachusetts)

NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses)

Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts

Massachusetts Building Inspectors

IJ (The Institute For Justice)

Live Free and Design

Massachusetts Fire Chiefs oppose Interior Design Legislation


Massachusetts Building Inspectors Oppose Interior Design Legislation


More cases against this legislation can be found at http://www.interiordesignfreedom.org/




WHO OPPOSES SB 1312? (California’s Practice Act that failed to pass in the Senate)
The opponents of this bill are





IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council)


CAB (California Architects Board)

CALBO (California Building Officials)

Los Rios Community College District

WHFA (Western Home Furnishings Association)

Lumber Association of California

NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry)

AIBD (American Institute of Building Designers),

The Home Depot

California Retailers Association, and several others.

The California Council for Interior Design Certification, CCIDC, issued a statement against a practice act in California.

“It is the opinion of the CCIDC board that this bill does nothing to improve the current certification program in California other than create a parallel registration program that is under the control of the state government and paid for at taxpayer's expense.”
Source: http://www.ccidc.org/eNews/sb_1312.html

ASID contends that interior designers are asking to be allowed to practice their profession through means of a practice act. ASID would like to convince the public that a practice act is a necessary means to protect the publics’ health, safety and welfare.

The Practice Act does nothing to further the protection of public health, safety and welfare. It is merely another layer of legislation. The increased costs will be passed onto the consumer.

If there is any issue of placing the public in harm’s way, it is the interior designers who strive to be interior architects, without having received the proper education or experience.

According to the article in Interior Sources, May 2008, ASID Update: A Goal of Licensure, Not Limitation by ASID President Rita Carson Guest, FASID, ASID’s argument in favor of legislation is a moot point by the author’s own admission.

The author states: “…we are asking to be allowed to practice our profession.” To those who say to us, "Why do you need a law for interior designers?" we say, interior design is already regulated de facto. The law is there to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, and we support that. But those laws are preventing interior designers from fully practicing their profession. We simply want states to grant interior design professionals who meet the necessary qualifications to be permitted to offer their services. We want to loosen the restriction on interior design professionals, not add a new one.”

What double talk is this? No one is preventing interior designers from fully practicing. What law is Mrs. Carson Guest referring to that is preventing interior designers from practicing their profession?

The only limitation is ASID’s legislative lobbying efforts to limit other designers from practicing. Look at the witch hunt ongoing in Florida. Currently, three states have practice acts in place –Louisiana, Washington, DC and Florida. Alabama’s Supreme Court ordered a stay against the practice act, which deemed it unconstitutional. In California, we’ve succeeded in fighting back the lobby’s efforts in the Senate. Senate Bill 1312 was struck down because it did not garner enough support in the Senate to consider the bill.

The practice act legislation is a circular argument and flawed. CIRCULAR: 1) By admitting there are laws in place that protect the health, safety and welfare of the public is an admission that a practice act is redundant to existing codes. FLAW: 2) No one is preventing designers from practicing their profession. Yet, the ASID proponents of the practice act, by asking for permission to practice by passing the NCIDQ exam will limit who can take the exam. In California, The NCIDQ exam does not test for knowledge of California Codes and Regulations as provided by current state law.

ASID's Practice Act is anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

The legislative proposals advocated by a small handful of designers which would create a restrictive practice act to control who may provide interior design services and discriminate against thousands of existing interior designers and students who are currently enrolled in college interior design programs and will not be able to become licensed under such proposals.

In California, several qualified Kitchen designers I know, some who hold CMKBD status, would have to go back to school to earn the right to take the NCIDQ Exam, find work (which could be hard to find), as an intern under a Certified Interior Designer to earn work experience credit. Currently, previous work experience for a Kitchen and Bath design firm does not count. This may proof wholly ineffective for a Kitchen and Bath designer who would have to work for a commercial designer that specifies system interiors for offices. How does this push for regulation protect the health, safety and welfare of the public ? It only serves to devastate the earning potential of a qualified designer who must go back to college and take a pay cut to work as an intern to sit for the expensive NCIDQ exam. NCIDQ, which has a historically low pass rate of arond 40%, is not the standard for minimum competency. It is just one of several exams that are equally valid, and arguably, the NCIDQ is not even the best.

Few designers even bother to take the NCIDQ exam because it is generally considered irrelevant by designers and more importantly, by their clients. Perhaps this lack of initiative is the true reason for trying to legislate what should continue to be a voluntary certification process.

Watching the disaster of Florida’s practice act, it is inconceivable to grasp the millions of dollars lost and construction projects halted as alternate design firms must be selected who are certified to practice in Florida. This is anti-business. It is the industry at large that depends on the work from design firms. The consumer is affected with this anti-competitive and anti-consumer practice act. The draconian Practice Act in Florida is nothing less than outrageous. ASID is most definitely an agency out of control. This is a situation that calls to mind the poem “First they came…" by Pastor Martin Niemöller about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Fortunately Americans don't take kindly to injustice. Grass roots efforts have been effective in fighting back legislation in California, Texas and Arizona. More work needs to be done to overturn this Draconian law in Florida and prevent laws from passing in New York.

The ASID Practice Act legislation is too broad. The CKD and CBD exams are not considered a legitimate substitute, despite the fact that these are the prevailing standards of kitchen and bath design expertise.

“The definition of "interior designers" is very broad based,” contends Ed Nagorsky, general counsel for the NKBA. “It encompasses all aesthetics of room design – from painting to hanging artwork. The mandate from the ASID is to obtain a practice act with a very broad definition, so as to require that all who practice within the design trades must take their exams and attend schools of their choosing.” Reference: Kitchen and Bath Design News, May 07.


Obtaining a license would require a designer to take the NCIDQ exam and study at institutions mandated by ASID and other allied organizations.

In California, SB1312 Practice Act would discriminate against many current professional interior designers by requiring licensing through an out of state organization that will not recognize our qualifications. This bill would not protect the consumer and adds an unjustified layer of bureaucracy to the already overburdened state budget.

California's SB1312 Practice Act will raise exam and licensing cost which will result in higher prices passed on to the consumer. It will only add additional cost to the services that an interior designer provides making it more exclusive and out of reach for many consumers.

California's Senate Bill 1312 has no provision for a registered interior designer to submit plans to local building officials and state agencies. It will not add any protection to the consumer.

California's SB 1312 will exclude many designers from becoming registered because of hard-to-meet requirements. Further, it will “criminalize” certain acts. Section 5751 states any person who violates any provisions of the law, is subject to severe penalties; guilty of a misdemeanor, and fines up to $10,000.

Section 5800 of the Business and Professions Code already establishes the Certified Interior Designer Law and the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). California certification already requires an interior designer to follow a “Code of Ethics” and pass an exam covering California Codes and Regulations (CCRE) to become a Certified Interior Designer.

To become registered, Senate Bill 1312 requires an interior designer to pass an exam (called the NCIDQ exam) given by a private organization based in Washington D.C. This is an expensive exam over which California has no control. Senate Bill 1312 says prior experience will qualify a designer to become registered but the NCIDQ exam ignores experience in the profession to even qualify to take the exam.

If you can’t take the exam, you can’t become registered. The NCIDQ exam also does not test for knowledge of California Codes and Regulations as provided by current state law.

The impact of such a law would have far reaching consequences on the design community. This sort of regulation law would put many thousands of designers, decorators, contractors and retailers out of business without any demonstrable showing of harm to the public from the failure to license the interior design profession.


In California, we've succeeded in fighting back the lobby's efforts in the Senate. As we suspected, the interior design lobby has not given up on their quest to limit interior design services to only a handful of designers who support their efforts and can pass the self-imposed requirements for licensure in the State of California. Designers and business owners oppose the “gut and amend” tactics to revive SB1312 and will continue to oppose it as it may be reviewed in the Business and Professions Committee.

Would consumers be affected by regulation of interior design?

Yes -- and in an extremely negative way. The Federal Trade Commission concluded that regulation would result in fewer choices and increased costs to the consumer. Regulation would take away consumers' freedom to choose a designer based on their needs. Currently, consumers have many avenues to determine the qualifications of interior designers -- portfolios, websites, resumes, interviews, private certification programs such as NKBA-CKD and CBD, CQRID, NCIDQ, and state code exams. The public does not lack the ability to make informed choices and regulation would take this choice away from consumers and put it in the hands of the government.

SB Senate Bill1312
Kitchen and Bath Design News : The Right to Practice. May 2007



Interior Sources, May 2008, ASID Update: A Goal of Licensure, Not Limitation

Cote De Texas: ASID an agency out of control


Kristi @ Addicted*2*Decor said...

Fantastic post! This is so thorough....you really did your research. Thank you for going to such great lengths to inform yourself...and to pass the information along to others.

Laurie Y. Burke said...

Thanks Kristi!
Without being informed, where would we be? Keep the faith.
PS., I like your new blog.

Cote de Texas said...

I'm not sure my comment went through - if it did - delete this:

Great, great post = and wonderful comment you left on mine. This is all so ridiculous and unreal. Think about this - in Fl- someone turned in the designers to the board! They don't go after designers unless someone turns them in. IMagine that! What ASID wants is to outlaw competition, plain and simple. Great, great post ! and Hi Kristi!

Laurie Y. Burke said...

To think a bunch of elitist frustrated designers have the power to conduct their own modern day witch hunt is beyond believable.

Is this the only way they see fit to maintain a competitive advantage? Florida's disciplinary cases is an example of power out of control.

Frank said...

what kind of tile is in the bathroom floor?

Wendy Hoechstetter, Allied Member ASID said...

Fantastic, comprehensive post summarizing the issues, Laurie! It's heartening to see the understanding of this issue and the opposition to growing. Like you, I also sometimes wonder if indeed we are truly still in the US.

And Cote de Texas, you are so right that it's other designers turning these people in - although I've also been told by people in the know that this law firm that was hired by the state of Florida is aggressively seeking out "offenders" by means of Google searches and the like.

Alas, even though we beat them back in the Senate here in CA, we know that they will be back, one way or another.

For anyone who is concerned about the negative impact of interior design legislation, I urge you to join the Interior Design Protection Council at http://www.idpcinfo.org, which is dedicated to fighting anticompetitive legislation nationwide. It's essential that we fight ASID and the various state coalitions on a national level and not just locally, because otherwise, this kind of thing will just mushroom out of control.

Wendy Hoechstetter, Allied Member ASID
California Designers Against Legislation (CADAL)

Laurie Y. Burke said...

Hello Frank,
I imagine you are referring to the first photo?
To know for sure, you should contact Hirsch Bedner direct to know for sure what material was specified. It looks to be a Polished Stone, perhaps in the Calcite family.

Wendy, we have a long fight ahead. However, I believe the public will understand and reject the biased reasons why the elitist backers of the bill want this to pass. It is a monopoly that favors the few and punishes the majority. It will have a devastating effect on the economy.

Ann said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

I live in Florida and see numerous ASID designers that were Grandfathered in who have no understanding of construction practices.

cheryl said...

I agree 100 percent. I live in Florida too and in my area the Interior Designers know zip about kitchens and baths...except perhaps "pretty".

Frank said...

Real Estate has shown some improvement in the past month? How is it performing in your area?

Laurie Y. Burke said...

Ping, your comment was deleted. Although I welcome comments, I cannot permit free advertising through the comment section. If you want to resubmit a comment without your advertising, I will accept it.
Thank you,

comfort and joy design said...

Great post - very thorough and factual. I really see this push for "title acts" as being a thinly veiled push for discrimination. It would raise prices and push small business people out of the business. Because of the tremendous cost it would add to getting into the business, it would also effectively keep those who don't have a lot of money - in our society that means people of color and older career changers - from getting into the business. It's wrong headed and mean spirited, and would have a bad impact on consumer choice and prices into the bargain. Thanks for writing about it so articulately.

Laurie said...

Nicolette, yes! Discriminatory? Absolutely, across the board.

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