Oh no, an unlicensed designer is going to decorate the White House – heaven forbid! Quick, get out the sandbags; the Obamas aren’t going to be safe in their own home, and neither will the public!
Or at least that’s what ASID’s Michael Alin would apparently like President and Mrs. Obama and the rest of the country to believe.
As everyone already knows, the extremely talented and world famous California designer Michael S. Smith has been tapped by the Obamas as their designer for their private White House quarters. He couldn’t possibly be a better choice, as ample other posts in the blogosphere have already detailed and dissected (see Patricia Gray, The Peak of Chic, and Cote de Texas, among many others). Gifted, personable, with a versatile of-the-moment style that’s incredibly well-suited to a young, modern family in the US, Smith’s selection fits well with everything we know about our new First Family to date, and will creatively meld a contemporary aesthetic and lifestyle with the traditions of the White House in an utterly fresh, uniquely American way.
What’s particularly interesting, however, is that, as best as I have been able to determine, Smith is not only not licensed in the District of Columbia (one of only 4 jurisdictions in the US that requires licensure for interior designers to practice our trade), but is probably not even eligible, according to current ASID and NCIDQ standards, as I was unable to uncover any evidence that he possesses a degree in interior design. Despite this, he is clearly acceptable to the Obamas – and to all of the security people surrounding the more powerful person in the country.
As well he should be, because Smith is bloody brilliant – and is the embodiment of all of the reasons that the ASID argument that only licensed/certified/ASID and NCIDQ-credentialed designers know what they’re doing is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Now, in reality, the White House is technically on Federal land, not District land, and so licensure would not be required in any case, but ASID is still obviously upset about the Obamas hiring someone who is unlicensed anywhere – and clearly not a member of ASID, according to a search of their website. You can readily see this from the fatuous letter Interiors & Sources published from Michael Alin of ASID in their most recent issue, exhorting the Obamas to consider the health and safety of their family and visitors first and foremost – as if their safety has not already been more than amply assured by legions of security and safety experts.
If these professionals, charged with keeping the First Family safe, don’t feel there’s a safety risk in allowing the Obamas to select a designer without the “formal” ASID-dictated credentials that Alin and his minions tout, then surely the hundreds of millions of other citizens of our country who want freedom of choice in selecting a designer for their own homes and offices are not at any greater risk without legislation to “protect” them.
Funny how ASID is always screaming bloody murder about unlicensed designers specifically endangering the public all over the Web and email, and interfering in many designers’ lives and livelihoods – but they didn’t even directly bring up the question of Smith’s credentials or licensing status up in this letter. Could it be that they realize how utterly ridiculous it would make them look if they were to blather on about how Smith isn’t licensed – to the President of the United States, who just selected him? And how overtly critical of Obama’s judgment that would obviously make them seem? What is Alin seriously expecting? That the Obamas will read his letter, and then suddenly decide, uh oh, they’d better find another designer from within the ASID ranks, because the almighty ASID (which is unknown to most people) has hinted not at all subtly that the President and his wife are not adequately protecting their family because of their current selection?
Designer Walter B. Peterson of Philadelphia-based Weixler Peterson Luzi Interiors responds to the editors in more detail about how ridiculous this argument is, and how the Obamas’ selection demonstrates how utterly unnecessary interior design legislation is:
Mr. Robert Nieminen, Editor
Mr. Jamie Nicpon, Managing Editor
INTERIORS & SOURCES Magazine
615 Fifth Street, SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
Michael Alin’s “Letter to President Obama” published in Interiors & Sources is presumptuous and embarrassing. Doubtless his advice is unsolicited, as the President’s and First Lady’s selection of the noted interior designer Michael S. Smith already satisfied their requirements in this area. Additionally, Mr. Alin’s expressed concern for the First Family’s environment – “modified to be safer and healthier” – rings hollow. One would be hard pressed to imagine any other head of state whose every environment, including the newest limousines he rides in, is any safer or healthier than that of the President, and any consideration of making the White House safer, healthier or more accessible would be handled by a team of government architects, conservators and the Secret Service, not an interior designer. But it is Mr. Alin’s suggestion that they consider the “health, safety and welfare” of their children before engaging an interior designer that is most offensive. Like all good parents, the Obamas have been taking such considerations into account since before their two lovely daughters were even born. Moving into the White House is the safest and healthiest move any family could make on this planet regardless of whom they hire to design it, and for Mr. Alin to imply otherwise is patently absurd.
Lastly, the fact that Michael S. Smith is not licensed to practice interior design in Washington, D.C. seems not to have altered the First Family’s decision to hire him, nor does it seem to upset the district’s legal authorities, who on any other resident’s unlicensed designer would doubtless impose punitive fines and possibly imprisonment. Given the round-the-clock concern for the President’s and First Family’s safety, the appointment of Michael S. Smith to design their most private living quarters sends a clear message to every legislature and court in the nation that interior design licensing is a bogus act, completely unnecessary to protect the public’s health and life safety, and therefore nothing more than an attempt by a tiny minority of ASID’s interior designers to create an exclusive monopoly in the marketplace of creative ideas and design.
Walter B. Peterson
WEIXLER PETERSON LUZI
Exceptional Interiors ~ Extraordinary Living
232 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
T: 215-592-9570 – F: 215-592-4782 – C: 215-880-3955