NKBA Seeking Meeting on Practice Codes

NKBA Seeking Meeting on Practice Codes

Hackettstown, NJ Officials from the National Kitchen & Bath Association are "hoping to meet" within the next two months with representatives from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) to better explain the NKBA's position on interior design practice legislation and the role of kitchen/bath specialists in the larger design community, NKBA leaders told Kitchen & Bath Design News last month.

According to Gary West, CKD, CBD, immediate past president of the NKBA, the Hackettstown, NJ-based trade association is pushing for a meeting "to begin to foster a relationship so that ASID understands our position, and so that we can clarify any misunderstandings."

The NKBA, some of whose members have been threatened by recent legislative actions throughout the U.S., has pledged its intent to "protect" kitchen and bath designers from "any unwarranted intrusion on their right to practice" their profession, stating that the association will "vigorously oppose any broad-based legislation that purports to limit that right."

That pledge, issued late last year in a letter from West to NKBA members, comes after a series of actions that has sparked growing concerns over the ability of kitchen/bath dealers and designers to continue in business in the face of interior design practice legislation being supported by organizations such as the ASID and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ).

A number of states have already put into effect laws that regulate both the practice of interior design and the use of the terms "interior designer" and "registered interior designer." Other states are also considering similar legislation, which requires those who practice interior design of any sort including kitchen and bath design be a graduate of an accredited interior design program, have passed the NCIDQ exam, and have a predetermined level of education and experience.

The NKBA has unsuccessfully attempted, through lobbying efforts, to secure amendments to the laws establishing the association's Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) and Certified Bathroom Designer (CBD) exams as equivalent to the NCIDQ exam for the purpose of state registration.

The NKBA currently has a lobby firm on retainer. However, as West noted, it would be far more effective for the association to work directly with organizations like the ASID on compromise legislation, rather than on independently battling measures that have already been approved on the state level.

"A lot of what they (ASID) know about us, we feel, is simply a matter of perception; a lot of it is hearsay," West said, explaining the need for a face-to-face meeting. "The interests of the NKBA and the design societies are not at odds. In fact, we're more closely aligned than their members are being led to believe."

"All the NKBA has ever sought from our affiliated partners was a recognition that our members are competent in their area of expertise, and permission to continue practicing in their chosen profession as they have done for so many years."

West refuted the claim by some interior design organization leaders that the NKBA feels its CKD and CBD exams are the equivalent of the NCIDQ.

"The CKD and CBD exams are specifically targeted to test the applicant's competency in the specialized field of kitchen and bath design," he explained. "We believe that our CKDs and CBDs have [shown] a higher level of proficiency in those rooms than someone who has taken the general NCIDQ exam."

"Any comments made comparing the NKBA's certification exams to the NCIDQ have been made in the context of demonstrating that any legislative recognition of the NCIDQ exam as testing the minimum competencies necessary to practice general interior design must likewise recognize the NKBA's certification exams as evidence of competency in kitchen and bath design."

The NKBA, West said, also does not either support or oppose interior design legislation per se.

"Our members do not now, nor have they ever, considered themselves "interior designers" within the general meaning of that term. 

"We do, however, have a legitimate and absolute concern when other associations seek to adopt practice acts that will prevent our members from working in their chosen profession," he said. "As a result of some poorly worded legislative efforts that paint the definition of 'interior design' with a broad brush, our members could be prohibited from performing the services in which they specialize."

West said the NKBA believes that passage of the association's certification exams qualifies a kitchen or bath designer to perform those specialized services, "and our association will not tolerate any effort on the part of any other organization to say otherwise."