New IJ Report Shows How Cartel Is “Designed to Mislead”

December 1, 2008

Why must state governments stop interior designers like Susan Roberts and Kelly Rinehart from calling themselves interior designers? According to the design cartel that backs these “titling” laws, they are essential to keep people from being “misled.”

Only those with a specialized education, and who have both served an apprenticeship and passed an exam are truly “interior designers,” says the cartel. Anyone else, even if they lawfully do interior design work, supposedly misleads the public by using the title.

The Institute for Justice’s strategic research team decided to find out if, in fact, consumers or industry members agree. We polled 1,400 consumers and reviewed top industry publications. And the results, published in September in Designed to Mislead: How Industry Insiders Mislead the Public About the Need for Interior Design Regulation, show it is the cartel that is doing the misleading.

IJ’s Director of Strategic Research Dick Carpenter found that the public does not associate “interior designer” with credentials required by states like Oklahoma and Connecticut. Instead, the public thinks “interior designers,” first and foremost, design interiors. Likewise, leading interior design publications pay no attention to state-mandated qualifications when they call people “interior designers.”

Both the public and the editors of leading industry publications think “interior designers” are defined by what they do, not by arbitrary state requirements. It appears that imposing these credentials by law when they lack any basis in evidence is what misleads the public—not designers like Susan and Kelly who honestly describe what they do.

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