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Business Observer Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 2 years ago

Letter to the Editor: Licensing deregulation could have severe consequences

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Florida Registered Interior Designer says licensing regulations protect the public.

Dear Editor: 

In regard to the column written by Matt Walsh in the Feb. 7 Business Observer, Dropping Licenses will Boost Economy, Florida, like 28 other states and jurisdictions, regulates the profession of commercial interior design. Currently, there is a bill in the Florida House seeking to deregulate the professional practice. 

A common misconception is that professional interior designers only select furnishings and colors, like the decorators seen on TV. While it is true that an interior designer can create a space that looks aesthetically pleasing, Florida Registered Interior Designers do much more. To clarify, one does not need a license to practice residential interior design. The regulated aspect is only applicable to interior design in public and commercial spaces.

Professional interior designers draft interior construction documents for hotels, places of worship, office spaces, airports, hospitals, and countless other commercial spaces where significant numbers of the public meet, work, and live. These licensed interior designers affect several construction and design elements that impact the health, safety, and welfare of the public including:

• means of egress, space planning, and safe wayfinding;

• occupancy calculations;

• identification, movement, removal, and/or construction of non-loadbearing interior walls and partitions;

• code compliant selection of finishes, fixtures, and materials;

• designing for the aged;

• accessibility for the physically disabled in conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal, state, and local laws;

• and many more areas that impact the occupants’ well-being and safety.

Florida is a state with a booming economy heavily reliant on tourism, with more than 439,277 hotel and motel rooms over 4,583 properties. These facilities include sleeping rooms, restaurants, stores, banquet facilities, meeting spaces and other areas frequented by tourists and hospitality industry employees.

Additionally, Florida is home to a growing number of retirees and seniors, with 5,391 senior living facilities and 1,265 nursing homes. These properties, if not adequately designed to prevent accidents, could result in injury or fatality. Sensory and cognitive changes in aging affect orientation and wayfinding, as well as how the physical aspects of the environment can accommodate these changes to reduce confusion and disorientation.

Registered interior designers qualified by the state with proper code knowledge to design such interior environments is critical for Florida’s public safety and economic infrastructure. Those who are licensed through a governmental agency gives consumers confidence in the professionals they hire. It also gives them an avenue for recourse when there has been consumer harm. Fair and efficient regulation is a component not meant to keep people from working, but an assurance to the public of qualified professional practitioners.

Holly Dennis

Holly Dennis Interiors

Sarasota

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