Beginnings of a Debate – FIDER Accreditation
Education 19 years ago No Comments

Last month in April 2005’s LEARN, BABY, LEARN piece we asked for reader input concerning the following issue: Regarding the way that some states are writing / have written their Interior Design legislation Acts (Title and/or Practice), one must have graduated from a FIDER accredited program in order to become licensed in that state. Where does that leave non-FIDER accredited graduates, and should this be considered fair” Blame it either on the chaotic end of the spring semester or the sensitivity of the subject matter, but we received only two responses so far, and we’re including them for your review. Readers, we’re itching for a good debate, so read on and then respond.

[Note: If you have not already, first read April 2005’s LEARN, BABY, LEARN piece to get up to speed on the argument. In it you will read the comments of Susi Santorelli, Director of U.S. & Canadian Affairs & ASID Student Chapter Faculty Advisor for Rhodec International. Rhodec is the online distance learning educational design program out of Brighton, UK and Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and it is not FIDER accredited.]

Email from: MIKE DUDEK
Subject: FIDER Accreditation Requirement

Regarding the issue of current and pending legislation requiring that a designer must hold a degree from a F.I.D.E.R. accredited program I have the following opinions.

1.) There are too many "interior design" programs creating too many "interior designers" for far too few "interior design" jobs.

2.) There are far too many "interior decorators" (a.k.a. under-qualified interior designers) posing as "interior designers" because….. well, because they can. Although their days are numbered.

3.) The only way (at this point) to ensure that the profession of Interior Design elevates itself to the level of respect and status that those of us who have followed the accepted path (per FIDER & NCIDQ) demand, is to make sure that all interior designers graduate from an FIDER accredited program AND pass the NCIDQ exam – at a minimum.

As long as under-qualified schools are cranking out marginal "interior design" graduates, the profession of "interior design" will continue to be mired in an identity crisis. One that leaves the general public (our clients) thinking our greatest skill is picking just the right slip cover for our neighbor’s Goodwill sofa (thanks to HGTV & Discovery et al). That is not Interior Design and shame on the posers that call themselves "interior designers" in that public forum.

Obviously there must be a way to transition legislation and stricter requirements that might cause hardships to new programs or long time practicing and qualified interior designers. Let’s be reasonable but open-ended grandfather clauses and wishy-washy legislation are not the answer either.

It may be painful to a few but in order for this profession to grow we need to raise the bar ASAP.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this aspect of the profession.

Mike Dudek
Manhattan, Kansas

Email from: RICK CEJALVO
Subject: FIDER Accredited Schools vs. Distance Learning

Being in a professional business which is very public for the last 29 years and wanting to switch to a field, which will let me use my artistic talents, I have found that Distance Learning is the best way for me to go. I have researched many ways to do this.

I have found that at my age, I can’t seem to fathom why FIDER accredited schools charge so much money to students when a lot of the students do not go into the field of Interior Design. In the business I am in as of the moment I found that a lot of students learned more of the basics and that what they learn through these accredited schools doesn’t help them in the long run.

It’s what you put into your learning and most of us who are changing their lifestyle hold down full-time jobs, and the only way to learn is through distance learning. Rhodec is the only distance learning school which allows their students to be a part of a world that was only accepted by FIDER schools. How many distance learning schools have a student ASID [chapter], or allow their students to join IIDA. I feel that it’s what you learn and how you learn that makes you a good or great designer. Having said this, I hope that more people like Ms. Santorelli will step up to the plate and help the distance learning students in the future.

Rick Cejalvo

Susi Santorelli did write to us after the release of the April issue, and this is what she said:

I just read the FIDER article and want to thank you for including it in this issue. After I last wrote to you I emailed over two dozen other schools and also sent them a letter in the hope of prompting some support and input or even just a response of some kind. Nothing! I wonder if there’s a fear factor for FIDER feather ruffling”! I did make it clear that I agree with what FIDER’s goals are, just that the individual states need to recognize there are more ways to measure design education.

I’m in the process of gathering the information and documentation on what is required for the state of Alabama (the first state to regulate the profession apparently), which does have an equivalency procedure in place. I’ll keep you updated and let you know if I hear from anyone, but in the meantime thanks again so much for your help and support and bringing this important issue to the front page.

Best wishes,
Susi Santorelli

As you can see, there’s a lot to discuss, so let’s really open up the debate – all opinions are welcome! Please send your comments to PLiNTH & CHiNTZ by emailing us: Let your voice be heard – that’s why we’re here.