Do California Interior Designers Need Legal Recognition? CCIDC Sets The Record Straight

The concept of securing legal recognition for interior designers in California is a controversial one, and a topic that has generated a lot of buzz in recent times. Recently, events and even fundraisers have been run to bring attention to the legal position of California interior designers. The California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC) recently released a publication clarifying some of the misconceptions around the notions of legal recognition for interior designers.

While some contend that interior designers in California do not have legal recognition, the reality is that the legally recognized California Interior Designer certification is available to any qualifying interior designer in California who wishes to pursue it. The certification is voluntary and requires the effort of each individual designer to pursue, and in this way the certification ensures a high level of quality and consistency in the design industry.

The California Business & Professions Code

The California Business & Professions Code (CBPC) Section 5800 has represented this opportunity legally for interior designers for the last 25 years, and the legislature offers all interiors a choice to pursue legal recognition. While this is not offered as an automatic right, the process of certification allows designers to acquire an in-depth knowledge of design concepts and legal building codes that help them to practice at a high level as professionally certified interior designers.

Legal Rights of Interior Designers

Misconceptions around the legal recognition of interior designers often center on the scope of practice available to interior designers and the need for interior designers to liaise and consult with architects and engineers regarding their work. In fact, the scope of interior designers’ practice is not determined by interior design law whatsoever, but more so determined by the architects and engineers practice acts that determine the minimum standard for practicing architecture or engineering. Within the practice acts there are exemptions for some work that interior designers may complete without the need for an engineer or architect to oversee the design.

The requirement for submitting certain work to be redrawn, stamped and signed by architects and engineers is determined by the California Building Code in conjunction with the oversight of the local building official. No change in the title of laws from an interior design point of view will be able to change this. However, as long as a Certified Interior Designer designs at or below the minimum standards in compliance with the statutory exemptions that require an architect or engineer’s oversight, there is no need for a stamp. This allows interior designers to design and practice as they see fit within the legal requirements set by architecture and engineering codes.

Any kind of further legal recognition for interior designers will also not provide the “right” to submit plans to local building authorities for permit issuance purposes. These decisions are in the hands of the local building official and determined by the local plan check submittal policies.

California interior designers enjoy a wide scope of practice within the quality standards set under the California Interior Design certification and further legal recognition is not only unnecessary but will not yield much benefit given the constraint of other legal codes at this time.



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