A blog to share thoughts and musings with interior designers

Landscape Architect is okay but Interior Architect is not...

On August 25th, 2018, I wrote the following email to AIA. Note their reply… I never heard back:

Hi there!


I am an interior designer who is currently studying for the NCIDQ exam. I have worked in architecture firms in the past doing commercial work, before going out on my own as a residential interior designer. I plan to open myself up to commercial work independently after passing the exam. My husband, a licensed architect, works with me independently as well as working full time for an architecture firm. I went to school with architects and landscape architects in an interdisciplinary institute.


Now for my question. I notice that Landscape Architecture has, of course, the title of “Architect” in their title. They have their own licensing program, but have been permitted via legislature to use the title of Landscape Architect. Are they architects? No, of course not! They are Landscape Architects. Interior designers have tried multiple times to request the use of the title “Interior Architect”, but AIA constantly fights this. Why? Because we are not architects! Of course we aren’t architects, we are Interior Architects (well, we would like to use this title). Why fight interior designers but not landscape architects? My honest conclusion is that we are seen as lesser or that AIA fears competition. No interior wants to bypass architects, we are not qualified to do architecture. It is a different field, hence the INTERIOR aspect of the title. The other aspect to this conclusion is that interior design is a female dominated field and, well, let’s be honest- we live in a sexist world where women are constantly pushed down and not encouraged to excel and heaven forbid “do a man’s job”. Is this the fear? 

I am not trying to anger anyone, but just to fully understand why a landscape architect would be granted the use of architect in their title, but interior designers should not.


See, here is the problem. Half of the interior design field has not gone to college, they have no training, no qualifications, and honestly believe that no one ever died from bad interior design (just take a look at the recent death at HPMKT because a swing was placed above Terrazzo floors with its back to a glass wall. Many do not want the responsibilities or liability that goes along with this. We want to work WITH architects and we want to take responsibility for our decisions and put the knowledge and testing we have taken to work. So, how do we (those of us like me who work primarily on renovations and additions -with an architect-) differentiate from those who want to select wallpaper, make pretty mood boards, and have never put a pen to vellum with any drafting knowledge, understanding of pulling permits, etc.? Well, a title change seems like a simple answer… of course it isn’t and there would still be a lot of educating the client, but I feel like right now we have to work first on getting the fields to get a long, work collaboratively, embrace one another’s skillsets and support one another… not fight over the use of a title.


So, in short.. I would like to better understand why the fight against “interior architecture”? Every architect I know is equally baffled by this and fully supports the use of the title. Why is their association so conservative?



Rachel Waldron, Allied ASID, NKBA

20211  Vashon Hwy SW, #28 | Vashon, WA 98070



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Aug 28, 2018, 2:46 PM

to me

Dear Rachel Waldron,

Thank you for contacting the American Institute of Architects.

Your inquiry is important to us and deserves to be answered by the most knowledgeable colleagues. Thus, we have forwarded it to our Interior Architecture Knowledge Community (IAKC) National staff contacts for their review and response: specifically, Melissa Morancy, (, 202-626-7371) and Maggie Brown (, 202-626-7479). Kindly afford them time to review and resolve the matter at hand.

AIA Knowledge Communities are primary interest areas in the architecture field where those with a common interest/expertise can share resources, ask questions and keep abreast of current topics.

We appreciate your continued patience and support of the AIA.

Best wishes,

Alison Karfeld

Associate, Membership Call Center Operations


1735 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006

Office: (800) 242-3837

Fax: (202) 626-7547