Making the Connections

The winners of this year’s Interior Design Education Video Competition demonstrate the link between the work of designers and the health, safety and welfare of occupants in healthcare environments.

by Robert Nieminen

At the core of the heated debate about regulating the profession of interior design is the question of whether or not an interior designer's work has a measurable impact on the health, safety and welfare (HSW) of the general public.

With the battle over legislation hitting a fever pitch in Florida recently, licensed interior designers and professional associations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and International Interior Design Association (IIDA) have been hard pressed to convey to legislators in many states how their work affects the public, thanks to well-funded organizations like the Institute for Justice who have portrayed interior designers as nothing more than glorified florists.

The popularity of new media, such as YouTube, hasn't helped matters. A search for "interior design" invariably delivers results with a focus on the "decorator-type" shows seen on television which only exacerbates and confuses the issue. As a result, four interior design associations decided to forgo the traditional models of communication, such as press conferences and news releases, to reach the public and engage decision makers where they search for information: the Web.

As a result, the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) partnered with the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID) and Interiors & Sources magazine to host the second annual Interior Design Education Video Competition. The international competition, open to interior design students, interior design educators and interior design practitioners, called for the creation of a short video that demonstrated the importance of established interior design education and examination standards.

"Our primary goal when starting this competition was to tell the story of how competent interior designers come to be (education plus experience plus examination) and how their work affects the public," explains Jeff Kenney, executive director of NCIDQ. "Today's students and younger members of the public look first to social media such as YouTube and Twitter for so much of their information, and we want to be on those platforms to get our story out."

Given the complexity of the HSW issue, on which volumes have already been written, the contest organizers decided that short videos would be the most effective way to get their message across. "One way to look at a video in the competition is to picture standing next to your state legislator with the video on your laptop. Would he or she 'get it' in a one- to two-minute video?" explains Kenney. "Interior design is such a visual profession that the use of still and moving images is a very good way to convey what it is that interior designers do in practice."

The theme for this year's competition centered on the question: How is the public's health, safety and welfare protection enhanced by the skills of fully prepared healthcare interior design practitioners? "For our first competition we focused on 'health, safety and welfare,'" says Kenney, which the associations felt was rather broad; it was eventually narrowed down to healthcare. "Healthcare is one area where legislators and the public can easily understand why someone designing every aspect of what is seen, touched and experienced in a healthcare setting should be competent to do that design work," he adds.

The winners of the 2010 Interior Design Education Video Competition were announced on March 19, 2011 during the IDEC Annual Conference in Denver, Colo. The winning video, submitted by a team of students from Louisiana State University, is titled "Interior Design & Healthcare." Students Colette DeJean, Leigh Hardy, Ryan Weilenman, Sarah Tull and Alyse Lambert worked under the guidance of faculty advisor Danielle Johnson. Judges commented that the video was "very relevant, imaginative, informative," and an "on target explanation of how professional interior design impacts healthcare."

In second place was a video produced by Ahmed Alawadhi from the University of Missouri, Columbia, titled, "The Role of Accredited Healthcare Interior Designer." Judges noted that "it informs about interior design skills" and "reaches several audiences" as its strong points.

The judges selected as the third place video a team effort by Radford University students Michelle Cleverdon, Laura Payne, Ashleigh Wilson, Kendra Travis and Katie Childress, working under faculty advisor Holly Cline. Judges praised this video for emphasizing design, targeting healthcare professionals, and being informative regarding interior design skills and experience.

More than 25 videos were submitted for consideration by a panel of judges from IDEC, AAHID, CIDA and NCIDQ. Winning videos receive cash prizes along with recognition on sponsoring organizations' websites.

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