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Interior Design vs Architecture — Life of A Designer

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

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Interior Design vs Architecture

Should interior designers have the same power as architects? There are many people on both sides of this issue. Well, Georgia has decided to become the state to test out new legislation that would give interior designers the ability to stamp drawings for interior modifications to any building, change in use, occupancy load or occupancy classification. I was informed about this new legislation, HB 231 – Change to the Practice Act Governing Architects, last night via email. The email I received is below:

Dear AIA Georgia Members:

Recently, language approved by the Georgia State Board of Architects and Interior Desginers to be inserted in HB 231 has been changed, with concerns raised by AIA Georgia having been largely ignored (for detailed history, see below).

As a result, AIA Georgia cannot support and must oppose HB 231 for the following reasons:

1. The current language is overly confusing, and it will be difficult for both practitioners and building officials to interpret. Suggestions made by AIA Georgia representatives to improve the legislation were largely ignored, while suggestions by the Georgia Alliance of Interior Design Professionals were largely incorporated.

2. Architectural education and training includes the study of civil, structural, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical engineering, and the coordination of the work of those professionals is a part of the definition of the “Practice of Architecture”. [43-4-1(6)] Interior designers are not trained in these disciplines. HB 231 would require a registered interior designer to coordinate work beyond their level of expertise. The current restrictions are intended to protect the life safety of Georgia citizens.

3. Traditionally, the use of existing legislation has been a basis for establishing similar laws. The language in HB 231 is unprecedented in the states that currently have practice legislation for interior designers, and would place the building officials and the citizens of Georgia in uncharted legal territory. In a time where some states are disbanding their interior design practice legislation, Georgia is on the verge of passing legislation that will give sweeping authority to the interior design profession.


1. Oppose HB 231 in its current form.

2. Support the December 18, 2009 language unanimously passed by the State Board of Architects and Interior Designers.


Find your legislator

1. Copy and paste the above information into an email to send to him/her.

2. Print the language on your letterhead and mail.

3. Call their office and ask to voice your concerns to the legislator or a senior aide.

Remember, your voice is critical in guiding AIA Georgia’s advocacy for our profession. If you haven’t already registered, come meet with legislators to discuss the issue at our annual Legislative Reception, Tuesday evening at the Georgia Freight Depot. Tickets are available at the door ($55).

Thank you,

Gerry D. Cowart, AIA, LEED AP
AIA Georgia President

If you feel as tho this law should or should not be passed, let your State Representatives know now! You can find your representatives two ways:
Representative Email – List if you know your representatives name
Congress.org – Which will find all your elected officials based on zip code

AIA Georgia’s site has more information on this issue and an event planned.

What do you think about the Georgia Legislator giving more power to interior designers? Leave your comments below.

About Hugh Shomari Lacy


  1. Brandi says:

    Thank you for this information. Asa designer working in Georgia, I have worked in several firms that struggled with this same, stamping problem. Many times we were to required to submit special documentation or even bring in an outside architect who wasn`t envolved in the planning process, etc. My thoughts are that the profession of interior design might need to be more closely examined because there are a lot of people who claim and work on profects without the proper licencing,,,,

  2. Wow, this is a really interesting struggle. At one time, I would have said that interior design and architecture are rather different fields. Now, with the LEED system put into play, I believe these two fields can come together. There are many interior designers become LEED accredited, and LEED gives individuals the proper education and training for fulfilling the requirements listed above. I think there is work being done to “closely examine” the profession of interior design, especially since LEED is developing a whole system for this profession – LEED Interior Design. Ultimately, interior designers will and should have the same power, if you will, as architects. As long as someone is properly trained, I see no problem with it.

  3. j.a. says:

    I don’t think LEED accreditation has anything at all to do with the issue of public health, safety, and welfare. That’s not the issue here. Contractors and building suppliers up until last year could be a LEED AP. Personally, I think interior designers who want to be architects should go to architecture school. I know there are some basics that are similar, space-planning, life safety, etc. but because IDs are not trained in classes such as structures (concrete, steel, etc) and lateral forces, and other technical coursework, from a liability standpoint, they are putting themselves at major legal risk by stamping drawings. I’ve worked with many IDs that knew a great deal about the technical aspects of commercial buildings, so I’m certainly not saying they aren’t capable. But in this lawsuit-friendly world, if I were an ID, I would not want the responsibility to stamp drawings, having not been educated in architecture’s fundamental building/building systems classes.

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