NKBA Pledges to Fight Practice Legislation

NKBA Pledges to Fight Practice Legislation

Hackettstown, NJ The National Kitchen & Bath Association, 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."

West's letter comes on the heels of a series of actions that have sparked NKBA members and kitchen/bath dealers throughout the industry to voice growing concerns over their ability to continue in business in the face of interior design practice legislation being supported by organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ).

The pledge was stated in a letter sent last month by NKBA president Gary West, CKD, CBD to NKBA members and affiliated trade associations in the design/ build industry. The letter, West said, was written "in order to clarify and correct any misunderstandings" and "clearly state" the NKBA's purpose and objectives with respect to interior design practice legislation. 

A number of states have already put into effect laws which regulate both the practice of interior design and the use of the terms "interior designer" and "registered interior designer." Other states are considering similar legislation, which generally 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 amount 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 Hackettstown, NJ-based association has also noted that it's not yet clear how the new wave of practice acts will impact designers.

The NKBA did say, however, that it will oppose any legislation "that prohibits our members from sharing in the benefits of their chosen professions as a result of the economic self-interests of others."

For West, the NKBA "has made every effort to work closely" with the ASID, IIDA, IDS, NDICQ and other organizations "in arriving at legislation that will protect interior design professionals, NKBA members and the public.

"Our members do not now, nor have they ever, considered themselves "interior designers" within the general meaning of that term. As such, we have no interest in whether the members of allied associations refer to themselves as 'certified interior designers,' 'licensed interior designers,' 'professional interior designers,' or any other manifestation of that term," West stated.

"We do 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. For NKBA not to oppose the wording of these legislative efforts would place our members at risk of losing their livelihood."

West denied that the NKBA feels its CKD and CBD exams are equivalent to the NCIDQ.

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

"Any comments made comparing the NKBA's 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 exams as evidence of competency in kitchen and bath design."

West stated that the interests of the NKBA and the design societies "are not at odds," adding that "we are more closely aligned than their members are being led to believe."

"We may recognize that the NCIDQ exam is appropriate for testing the general competencies of interior designers, but that in no way suggests that it is an appropriate tool for testing the specific skills necessary to design the two most used rooms in the house the kitchen and bathroom," West said.

The NKBA feels that passing the certification exams qualifies a designer to perform those specialized services, "and our association will not tolerate the effort of any other organization to say otherwise," according to West.
"We will oppose, vigorously and successfully, any legislation that would require our members to pass the NCIDQ exam before being allowed to perform kitchen and bath design services."

West said the NKBA is willing to meet with other associations "[to] pass the best legislation possible, one that truly protects the interests of the public and our members.

"All the NKBA has ever sought from our partners was recognition that our members are competent in their area of expertise, and permission to practice their profession. We do not expect our members be permitted to perform architectural or engineering services, nor do we wish to be considered 'interior designers' under title registration laws," he added.

He concluded by saying it is the NKBA's hope "that our friends and association partners will put aside the rhetoric that has been waged throughout the country, and cease their misguided efforts to constrain our members' activities and interfere with our endorsed college program."