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Interior designers to fight for title act in Arizona

There is more to an interior designer’s work than what meets the eye.

A coalition of designers have been trying to get Arizona lawmakers to recognize this since 2011, when its most recent draft to include interior designers in Arizona Revised Statutes failed to pass. Their edits would have made Arizona the 31st state to recognize and regulate interior designers’ certifications and training.

It is a “continual battle to show how hiring a qualified interior designer is important” and differs from hiring a decorator, says Jill Gibney, interior designer at McCarthy Nordburg. An interior decorator can rearrange an office’s furniture, re-imagine a break room’s aesthetic or fill blank space with trendy statues or a fountain. A commercial interior designer, by definition, can do all of the same things, as well as make structural changes due to formal training in the topic. This, however, is not the case in Arizona. In fact, interior designers — even those who are formally trained — must have all their structural work signed off by a certified architect. That’s why many design firms employ people like Michelle Rutowski, of Dick & Frische Design Group, a certified architect who says 85 percent of her job is related to architecture.

In many states, commercial interior designers must take the NCIDQ, short for National Council for Interior Design Qualification. The eligibility for this qualification is extensive and the exam price tag is around $1,000. Despite Arizona law, many commercial interior designers still pursue the certification.

“It is important for designers to take the exam as soon as they are eligible as a commitment to the profession,” Gibney says.

The American Institute of Architects openly opposes practice and title regulations being extended to interior designers. “In the public interest, the AIA holds that only architects and engineers licensed through examination possess the necessary education, training and experience to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public in the built environment,” according to AIA’s public policies and position statements. “Other individuals may possess useful skills in designing within the built environment, but fragmentation of responsible control of the building design process endangers and misleads the public as to respective areas of competence and expertise. The AIA opposes practice or title regulation of individuals or groups other than architects and engineers for the design of buildings.”

When AIA Arizona was contacted for comment, it deferred to the national organization’s policies.

Nevada and New Mexico, both part of IIDA Southwest, have practice and title laws, respectively, that regulate interior design on a state level.

“Nevada sets the bar when it comes to the interior design profession,” says Peggy Favour, principal of Las Vegas’ SMPC Architects and member of IIDA. Nevada’s registered interior designers can sign and seal documents for permitting per guidelines of the Nevada 2009 Blue Book. On the other side of Arizona, in New Mexico, the title Licensed Interior Designer identifies a professional who completes a formal education, has legitimate work experience and has demonstrated competency on the NCIDQ examination. An annual license renewal process confirms professional conduct and continuing education compliance, explains Favour.

“It is surprising that the State of Arizona, with three institutions that offer professional level interior design programs accredited by CIDA, would not have professional state recognition to support the professional career paths of their graduates,” says Favour.

It’s an issue of keeping design students in the state, IIDA Southwest President Stephanie Fanger says.

“Professionals designing commercial use spaces need to have advanced knowledge of the local building codes and require specific experience to plan space and create designs that comply with these codes,” says Chris Dos Santos of Gensler in Las Vegas. “Clarity in knowing which people practicing interior design can provide this service is critical to the industry and life safety.”

DFDG’s Rutowski is the vice president of advocacy for IIDA Southwest, where she intends to re-assemble a coalition to bring this issue to the legislature. Until then, she encourages certified designers to make clients aware of their recognition by the industry, to show them there’s more than meets the eye.

Courtesy of Luca Bertolli

How to keep employees happy at work

McCarthy Law PLC in Scottsdale has received a 2015 Happiest Company Award and the 2015 Employee Recognition Award from TINYpulse, a company that helps employers to capture workplace feedback from its employees. A law firm specializing in debt settlement and negotiating debt without bankruptcy, McCarthy Law PLC has beat out several hundreds of other companies who use the relatively new software, TINYpulse.

TINYpulse allows employers to capture feedback from employees and gain insight into the company to improve happiness and productivity in the workplace. Through the use of TINYpulse, employees are able to submit their anonymous responses to the company’s questions and express their opinions towards their jobs. While the set of questions are standardized by TINYpulse and companies cannot pose their own questions, the questions used are relative to every company and allow for a fair and standardized review so that TINYpulse users can see how they rank amongst other users. Some examples of questions asked by the device are listed below:

•    On a scale of 1 to 10, how well does your organization support you in exploring your professional interests and goals?

•    If your organization had a theme song, what would it be and, more importantly, why did you choose that song?

•    On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?

•    Do you feel comfortable providing upward feedback to your supervisor?

•    If they were making a movie about your organization, which actor or actress should play your CEO and why?

After the responses are submitted, companies are able to revamp and alter their procedures and management to provide a more lively workplace with productive, enthusiastic workers.

Kevin Fallon McCarthy of McCarthy Law PLC in Scottsdale began implementing the software in his company in the summer of 2013. Since then, he has been able to improve the lives of his employees by taking into consideration their requests, suggestions, and solutions to problems within the workplace.

“The weekly survey allows us to improve the culture of our company. It gives our employees an opportunity to express themselves anonymously,” McCarthy says about TINYpulse.

McCarthy went on to give examples of the changes TINYpulse has been able to implement within the workplace ranging from the acquirement of a Keurig Coffee Appliance to revamping management techniques and styles to improve happiness turnout within the law firm. “We added a fun committee to plan events for the firm as the result of a suggestion.  We do bi-monthly potlucks based on a suggestion.  We changed PTO from being taken in one day increments to half days as a result of a suggestion,” McCarthy listed in regards to the changes his company has made. “Our employees have an easy way to propose ideas to make work a better place without worrying about any adverse consequences.”

Numerous studies have been done by various psychologists such as John Helliwell, Richard Reeves, and Sonja Lybomirsky to determine the relationship of happiness and productivity in the workplace. Among all of their findings, similar results were received and common inferences were made that the correlation between a positive well-being at work and productivity, cooperation, and enthusiasm is positive (Psychology Today). “With companies struggling to survive in a competitive economy, and engaged in a war for talent, the problems of recruitment, retention and employee engagement of productive employees are critical. No less critical is the recognition that a happy workplace can have a significant impact on business results and success,” states Ray Williams, author of “How workplace happiness can boost productivity” (July 20, 2010).

TINYpulse, however, is not the only service that can be used by companies to improve employees’ well-being at work. There are several different techniques employers can implement in their daily work lives that will pave the path for a more enthusiastic work environment. Being attentive to the requests of employers, taking into consideration the effects of the company on each individual who is a part of it, and informing the employees of an open door policy are all great ways to improve happiness in the workplace.

ASU HR, McCarthy Nordburg

ASU HR Department Gets 17KSF of Tenant Improvement

McCarthy Nordburg announced the completion of the new Arizona State University HR Department to a second generation office building. The 17,000 SF second generation tenant improvement project addressed the tenant’s desire for an open collaborative space that incorporates ASU branding throughout. The reception area is the central hub for visitors and employees to gather. Jennifer Sasek and Jill Gibney were the design team from McCarthy Nordburg, Jokake Construction was the general contractor and Target Commercial Interiors provided the furniture.

Call Center, McCarthy Nordburg

55KSF OnTrac Call Center and Headquarters Completed

McCarthy Nordburg announced the completion of OnTrac’s new 55,000 SF call center and headquarters located in the Continuum project at 2501 S. Price Road in Chandler on Friday. The company has grown rapidly and the design addressed the tenant’s desire for a space that reflects its company culture and brand. Allen Arrington and David Hobart were the design team from McCarthy Nordburg. Stevens Leinweber was the general contractor and Facilitec provided the interior furnishings. Call Center3, McCarthy Nordburg


IIDA Southwest Member Profile: Jill Gibney


Jill Gibney, Interior Designer, McCarthy Nordburg

VP of Membership, IIDA SW Chapter

Years in interior design: 14+

Years in IIDA Southwest: 12

Q: Why did you get involved with IIDA?

A: I initially became involved in IIDA because of the events — the annual PRIDE Awards in particular. I am always thrilled to see all of the talented designers in the Southwest come together to celebrate our accomplishments and creative contributions to society. I stay involved in IIDA because of the people. Their dedication to the advancement and

Jill Gibney

Jill Gibney

celebration of the Interior Design profession is rewarding and continually enriches my love of design.


Q: How important to the success of your business is your involvement with IIDA?

A: IIDA stands behind elevating the profession of Interior Design to the level it warrants — as our profession can impact the health, safety and well-being of the public. My commitment to the Interior Design profession, and IIDA, signifies my passion for design and the use of effective business practices — both of which will enhance the development of my career.


Q: What activities do you enjoy most as an IIDA member?

A: I most enjoy our philanthropic-based events which allow us to do what we do best while at the same time giving back to the community. Our newest philanthropic event, Connect4, is a weekend renovation event in all of our major City Centers — Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque and Las Vegas. In this event, designers remodel and enhance the interior space of a non-profit organization such as U.S. Vets in Phoenix. Events such as these showcase the dedication and huge hearts of our members — and make me proud to be a part of this organization.


Q: Was there an “aha moment” when you realized being in IIDA was invaluable?

A: By being involved in IIDA in different contexts — first as a student member, then as a professional member and now as a member of the Board of Directors — I’ve had many different “aha moments.”  The one thing that rings true in all contexts of involvement is that the connections you make in IIDA throughout the years will eventually come “full circle.”  You come to realize how small, yet substantial, the design community really is. Whether you need someone’s expert advice or someone who will be your advocate, it is through your involvement in IIDA that you can find “your people.”