SERVICE Makes Us Stronger

Anita Baltimore, FASID

The foundation—and the future— of the profession rests on the contributions and dedication of volunteers.


SERVICE Makes Us Stronger
The foundation--and the future--of the profession rests on the contributions and dedication of volunteers.

by Anita Baltimore

Not long ago, on a trip to New York, I visited with DeDe Draper, FASID, who served as president during the time that the American Institute of Decorators (AID) and the National Society of Interior Designers (NSID) merged to form the American Society of Interior Designers. In recalling those days, she noted that many of the issues association leaders wrestled with then—protecting designers' right to practice, advancing design education and promoting professionalism in business practices—continue to be challenges for the profession today. But she was not bothered by that and spoke with great passion about how her volunteer experiences fueled her feelings of dedication to the profession.

My own career path as a volunteer no doubt resembles that of many others. I joined ASID shortly after I graduated from design school. Like many new professionals, I wanted to meet and talk with more experienced designers and build my network of business contacts. As I became more involved, however, my understanding of the profession broadened, and along with it grew my appreciation for ASID and its mission. From there it was only a matter of time before I was volunteering in my local chapter and, eventually, at the national level. I never expected I would one day serve as the Society's president. Looking back, I see what DeDe was talking about. You make sacrifices when you become a volunteer, but you get much in return, including a strong connection to a cause you worked for and championed.

During the years, I, too, have seen many of the same issues come before the leadership. Since designers are problem solvers by nature, it can be a frustrating experience at first to sit through yet another discussion on an issue one has tackled many times before. We want to analyze the problem, define the solution, implement it and move on. My experience as a volunteer has taught me that not everything that looks like a problem is indeed a problem to be resolved, and that lack of resolution is not the same as lack of progress. Protecting designers' right to practice remains a vital issue for our profession, but we continue to advance in our pursuit of legislation in each and every state. Other issues, like professionalism, pertain to encouraging certain behaviors. People being people, these issues are not going to go away, but need to be monitored vigilantly.

What is most critical for our profession is that we continue to address the important issues. This is where our professional associations play their most important role. They provide a foundation and structure through which we can gather, interact, discuss, decide and take action. They give us a voice and an identity through which we can communicate with other groups and decision-makers. They can help us step outside the confines of our own practices and businesses to see the bigger picture and broaden our vision.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the American Society of Interior Designers. In that time, ASID has served in many capacities for the interior design profession—as spokesperson, mediator, advocate, educator and mentor. It has helped to foster organizations like NCIDQ and FIDER in its mission to advance professional standards for interior design and design education. It has advocated on behalf of designers' right to practice, and on behalf of occupants in building codes and regulations. It has undertaken research on design topics and the design industry, and promoted the use of research in developing design solutions. It has worked to educate the public, the media and other professionals in the built environment about the unique abilities and contributions of interior designers and the value of good interior design.

These efforts and accomplishments have served to meet the needs of our profession
in various ways, and they have benefited countless designers, regardless of whether they were members of the Society. But none of them would have been possible without the many talented designers who took the time to serve as volunteers and leaders.
Their service has made us stronger as a
profession and set an example for future designers. We owe them our thanks, and I believe that in return we have an obligation and a responsibility to build upon the legacy they have given us and enrich it for the next generation.

If you have never been a member of a professional association, or have let your membership lapse, I encourage you to give us another look and to get involved. Join
us in San Diego, March 17-20, for INTERIORS 05: The ASID Conference on Design, where we will celebrate the Society's 30th anniversary, and experience for yourself the strength that comes from community and service. For more information, visit the ASID Web site at

  • ASID president Anita Baltimore has served as an ASID volunteer at both the chapter and society
    levels for more than 25 years. She is a founder of Interior Design Services, Inc., located in Nashville, TN. ASID can be reached at (202) 546-3480;
    fax: (202) 546-3240;