Either We're An Interior Design Community Or We're Not

Recently a group of designers got together to create a petition to stand up for themselves: A Petition to Stop Houzz from Using Designers to Make Money

interior design community

While I'm hopeful that this petition will result in change, I'm afraid it won't. First, I have little faith in Houzz and IvyMark. While they seem to give lip service, I don't think they actually care about the community that they profit from.

Second, our community is fractured. We have so many that feel like they don't belong.

Either we truly accept everyone, or we stop pretending to

Take the interior decorator who has no formal training. Or the interior stylist. Or the decor blogger. Many in our industry who have the degree and/or the certifications are very vocal (and sometimes downright nasty) when it comes to demonizing these folks as less than. And it isn't right.

Don't believe me? Check out the discussions on YouTube videos or blog posts, and you will see the same comment threads that usually start with:

"It's really insulting to people like me who earned a degree that you call yourself an interior designer when you're definitely an interior decorator"


"To be an interior designer you have to go to college, and get your bachelors degree at least." (Um, well almost right.)


"I don't think you can call yourself an interior designer, you are a decorator. To be an interior designer you have to be able to draw floor plans, electrical and lighting plans, elevations; create spaces with concepts using deep knowledge based on history, art and architecture; understand all laws and regulations. All that takes years of formal education."

Deep knowledge? Come the fuck on. Yes, you learn valuable information in college about interior design. Is it deep? No. Do you learn about laws and regulations? In the most basic sense, sure. 

Yes, I know the difference between an "interior designer" and an "interior decorator". I happen to be one of those people who earned the degree and has the certifications.

In studying for the certifications, I learned more about the laws and regulations than I ever did in college. (I've already written my thoughts on it here and here if you care to read it.) If I had to do it all over again knowing that I'd go into residential design, I'd skip the degree and the certifications. 

I don't buy into the life and safety issue for a minute as it relates to interior design. It's easier to become an EMT and, that career actually has something to do with if people live or die. Until I see proof that this argument is legit as it relates to the design industry, I'm calling bullshit.

The point? Until the interior designers stop casting shade on the folks who don't have a degree, this community will never come together. 

There is a place for all of us. When we all start to be as inclusive as we proclaim to be about other issues, then we will have a real chance at taking our power back as an industry. Until then, we will be a fractured and powerless group.

We need a plan

We all should know by now that ASID, Houzz, whoever else does NOT have our best interests at heart. They might whisper sweet nothings in our ear, but actions speak louder than words. 

We need to create a community with goals and standards that serve our diverse community.  A community that I have seen come together to pick up the pieces when a designer fucks over a non-profit. 

A community that realizes that while we all have different skills and ways that we approach residential interior design, we are still united in serving our clients as their trusted guides in the tricky process of bringing the design to life.

We banish the wolves

If we have the compassion and the strategy to come together as a community that means we also need to stand up and banish the wolves from being our mouthpieces.

That means when someone comes from out of nowhere and wants to be your industry advocate, check their background and their motivation.

You know what I'm talking about. We have people in this industry (and some from outside of the industry who pretend to care about our community) acting as if they have your best interests at heart, and they don't. They will act like they know how to run a successful business, tell you that they feel your pain when they are only looking to profit off of your pain.

There are very few people of integrity in this industry (Sarah Daniele, Renate RubyLaurie Laizure, Nick May, and Julia Malloy come to mind) that want the best for you and know what they are talking about. It's your job to figure out if the rest are legit resources to help you grow your design business.

Then, we can take back our industry

When our community comes together in a way where we appreciate everyone's contribution to the industry, then we can reach out to the other industries that we rely on as a cohesive and formidable community. But as we stand right now, we are fractured. That has to change. 

Maybe it's all a kumbaya dream, or maybe we're on to the next era of the interior design industry. An interior design community where we regain the power that so many have grabbed from us when we were so trusting. An interior design community that realizes that it is stronger together.

Alycia Wicker

Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in helping soulful interior designers attract clients with clever marketing strategies. Celebrity gossip whore.