NKBA Pledges to Fight Practice Legislation

by WOHe

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

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

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

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

“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.”

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