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Conveying Our Value

Why do interior designers matter? The winning entry of the 2011 Interior Design Education Video Competition answers the question persuasively.

By Robert Nieminen

Why do interior designers matter? The winning entry of the 2011 Interior Design Education Video Competition answers the question persuasively.

How is the public’s economic well-being impacted by the skills of fully prepared interior design practitioners? That may be a loaded question, depending on who you ask, but that’s exactly what the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) wanted to know when it laid the framework for its 2011 Interior Design Education Video Competition.

Thousands of interior designers and students across the world are currently pursuing, or have completed, education and examination requirements that prepare them to serve society—protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare (HSW) and ensuring our way of life, according to IDEC. However, the public, design professionals and prospective interior design students do not always understand this.

Part of the reason for this lack of awareness can be attributed to special interest groups like the Institute for Justice (IJ) that have successfully launched public relations campaigns and filed lawsuits in courts across the country, contending that the work of interior designers has no discernible impact on HSW, as they suggest in their 2007 report, Designing Cartels. In it, the IJ states that:

“Licensing some professions, such as dentists, engenders little question about the utility of government oversight, particularly in the interest of protecting public health and safety. Yet others, such as casket sellers and florists, lack any clear need for government regulation. As this report demonstrates, interior designers could be added to that list, although some leaders in that industry work to convince legislators otherwise.”

The IJ also argues that licensing unfairly restricts competition in the interior design industry in any given state. By following this line of reasoning, one might conclude that the economic impact of “fully prepared” (read: licensed) designers is not only insignificant, but may even be detrimental to the economy.

And as far as the general public is concerned, the popularity of design-themed “reality” TV programs only cloud the issue further, portraying interior designers as consultants who help select paint and fabric colors and nothing more.

However, many people who are attuned to the issue maintain that interior designers have a significant (and positive) impact on local economies. Hiring a skilled interior designer can enhance a business’ brand positioning, help a client communicate core values and mission, reduce employee turnover and absences, prevent accidents and control liability costs, and result in a higher return on investment—all of which have a direct impact on local and global economies, they argue.

So when IDEC opened up this question to the design community for its annual video competition, it received more than 30 entries from across the country, each explaining how interior designers impact the economy. The winning video, submitted by a team of students from Radford University and titled “Why Interior Designers Matter,” is as creative and visually stimulating as it is educational.

Students Kate Croy, Lauren Reinhard, Kelsey Keller, Lory Marsocci and Anna Beydoun worked under the guidance of faculty advisor Renee Walsh, and won over the judges, who noted that the “freehand drawing accompanied by upbeat voice-over and humor engages viewers.”

In fact, “the video received a standing ovation at the IDEC conference when it was shown, and that’s the first time it’s ever happened in this video competition,” says Mary Jane Grigsby, FASID, RID, LEED AP ID+C, president of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), who served on this year’s judging panel.

Watch the video once, and it is abundantly clear that the students who created and produced this short film are not only creative, but had done their homework, which they synthesized seamlessly with time-lapsed, freehand artwork. The takeaway is clear: interior designers do, in fact, impact the global economy, and in a very positive way.

In a joint statement, the winning team said it hopes to “inform the public of the importance of interior designers, education and certification of interior design. The more people know, the better. HGTV touches on the very surface of what we do—and that seems to be what most people consider ‘interior design.’

“Even we as students had no idea what we were getting ourselves into freshman year, but the more we found out and learned, the more we fell in love with the profession. Our plan as recent graduates from Radford University is to obtain jobs in the field that we love and have worked hard for. We want to change the world's view on interior designers, and this video was just the start.”

In second place was a video produced by Emily Erbes and Anya Robson from Iowa State University titled, “Economical.” The judges selected as the third place video a team effort by University of Texas at Austin students Kristin Amundsen, Hannah Berryhill and Emily Sutton, working under faculty advisor Carl Matthews.

IDEC partnered with NCIDQ, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and Interiors & Sources magazine to host the competition.

The winning videos and other contest entries can be viewed online at