Commercial law protects consumers against fraud and deception, and until recently it protected them from potential tackiness if they were misled into believing that someone calling themselves an “interior designer” had a license to harmonize throw pillows.
However, several accomplished yet unlicensed interior designers brought a law suit claiming that Texas “titling” laws infringed on their First Amendment rights. Without using the title, they claimed, they could not make money from their business. Because the term "interior design" merely describes what they do and does not mislead anyone, it is protected as "commercial speech."
The court agreed that the meaning of interior designer is too vague to pin down:
There is no fixed definition of the covered occupations. Interior designers may confine their work to harmonizing color schemes and selecting furnishings for private residences; or they may design the physical layout of commercial spaces, including aesthetic, functional and safety attributes; or they may furnish services on a wide spectrum between these alternatives. Where no fixed definition of the services exists, there can hardly be a claim that the public is being misled about particular individuals’ truthfully expressed level of expertise or services.
The court also agued that interior design does not fit into the same category of regulation as for instance dentistry or psychology because the practice of interior design contains no consumer danger.
Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.