Massachusetts Senate Acts to Establish New Statewide Licensure of Commercial Interior Design

Regulation would help remove barriers to employment opportunities in majority-women field   

(BOSTON–6/06/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed An act relative to advancing the profession of commercial interior design. Under this legislation, commercial interior designers would have the opportunity to become registered professionals in the state of Massachusetts. As the law currently stands, with certain state and federal projects requiring licensure, Massachusetts designers often have to contract with larger firms or individuals with architectural licenses in order to be eligible for these projects. This often results in lost revenue for interior designers in this majority-women field.  

Creating a licensed profession statewide would enable registered interior designers to bid individually on certain projects currently off-limits, growing small businesses that are often women-led, and incentivizing graduates in the field to stay in Massachusetts to build their careers and not have to go out-of-state to be able to bid on work.  

“This bill continues the critical work underway in Massachusetts to address wage disparity, providing a system of licensure that levels the playing field for our highly educated commercial interior design professionals,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “These professionals deserve to be recognized for the work they do, and this bill is especially important for our small business owners to open up a wider market of projects that their skills already meet.” 

This legislation also has strong support from the International Interior Design Association New England Chapter (IIDA NE) which has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts related to this issue. 

Licensure would allow interior designers to:  

  • Obtain building permits independent of a licensed architect; 
  • Prepare plans and specifications; and 
  • Supervise new construction, alterations, repair of a building’s interior space within newly constructed or existing buildings when core and shell structural elements are not being changed. 

This bill removes the existing structure that requires partners in design-build firms, who are often women, to sell part of their ownership to ensure the firm meets the requirement of being majority-owned by registered professionals to allow bidding on certain state and federal projects. It also expands the Designer Selection Board to include three certified interior designers and creates a board to oversee the registration of interior designers who are qualified and want to practice commercial interior design. 

Having been passed by the Senate, the legislation now heads to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.