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The Lowdown on American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)

What is ASID?

The American Society of Interior Designers, known as ASID, is an organization composed of individuals in the interior design industry, including interior design practitioners, industry partners, interior design educators, and students. The organization aims to uplift the design profession through programs in education, community building, advocacies, events, and initiatives. ASID currently has more than 25,000 members in 46 ASID professional chapters spread out across the States.

History

ASID was established in 1975 and is the oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers. ASID is a result of the merging of two predecessor organizations – the American Institute of Interior Decorators (AIID) and the National Society of Interior Designers (NSID) which were founded in 1931 and 1957, respectively. During its first few years, the organization’s main task was to collect information on state regulations of the interior design profession. By the 1980s, ASID’s role evolved as the organization started to encourage registration within different states in the country. They also signed an accord with the professional association of architects with regard to the policy on title acts wherein architects are only allowed to use the title of “interior designer” within states that follow this rule, as well as establish a joint regulatory board. In 1999, the ASID board decided to no longer honor the agreement and had its members pursue practice acts aggressively. In 2005, ASID published “The History of ASID: 30 Years of Advancing the Interior Design Profession.” The book contains a comprehensive history of the organization. It also celebrates ASID’s achievements within the first three decades since it was established.

Members

The organization is composed of more than 25,000 members from 46 divisions across the States. An estimated 13,500 of its members are practicing professionals in the field of commercial and residential design. ASID has more than 2,000 industry partners and 6,000 individual industry representatives. These areas of membership allow designers to create a network with manufacturers who are responsible for producing design-related products and services.

Aside from its professional members, ASID also accepts interior design students. Currently, the organization has a membership of nearly 5,500 interior design students within its more than 280 student chapters, including colleges, universities, and design schools that offer two-year and four-year programs and “virtual” chapters from institutions that offer online interior design programs.

Membership Categories

ASID has four main membership categories, namely Individual, Companies, Educators, and Students. Each category has further sub-categories depending on your qualification and experience. Here is a detailed look at these four categories, their requirements, and membership fees. All categories and criteria are based on information collected in 2021.

INDIVIDUAL MEMBER (Professionals who are designers, architects, or individuals who support the built eco-system)

Criteria: 1.0/10 credit hours of continuing education every two years to maintain the membership.

Professional Member

Criteria: Clear the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination. Any member of a provincial association in Canada who is a member of Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) and any professional member of Colegio de Diseñadores – Decoradores de Interiores  (CODDI), Puerto Rico is transferable to ASID upon proof of said membership.
Fee: $525 annually, plus a $100 one-time application fee.

Allied Member

Criteria: 40 semester hours or 60 quarter hours of interior design education from an accredited institution.
Fee: $525 annually, plus a $100 one-time application fee.

Associate Member

Criteria: minimum of six (6) years of full-time interior design practice, and proof of completion of, at minimum, a college-level associate’s degree in any major demonstrated by an official transcript.
Fee: $525 annually, plus a $100 one-time application fee.

Architect Member

Criteria: Clear the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)
Fee: $525 annually, plus a $100 one-time application fee.

COMPANY/ INDUSTRY PARTNER MEMBER (Businesses supplying equipment, product or services to the profession)

Local Industry Partners Membership

Details: one representative from a company is eligible to join the chapter of their choice.
Fee: $525/year, plus a one-time application fee of $100.One additional chapter may be added for the same representatives only, for $200/year extra.

Regional Industry Partner

Details: this allows you to create a membership that targets the areas of the country most important to your business. Regional Industry Partners may have up to 17 representatives in total.  

Fee: $900/year in dues, plus a one-time application fee of $50. Up to 15 additional representatives may be added for $200/year extra.

National Industry Partners

Details: may connect 49 representatives from their company to ASID chapters. The membership is designed to be flexible and allow you to have your representatives connected to the chapters they’re most interested in.  
Fee: $8,000/year.

International Industry Partnership

Details: 2 membership positions and provides a non-US-based company the opportunity to engage with the Society and support its mission without local representation.  
Fee: $1,200/year.

Corporate Industry Partners

Details: enjoy ASID membership without chapter engagement and include manufacturers, service providers, and other organizations who support the ASID belief that Design Impacts Lives. The membership offers an unlimited number of representatives (no chapter designation).
Fee: $15,000/year.

EDUCATORS MEMBERSHIP (Individuals engaged as educators, either the head of, or full-time instructor in a post-secondary program of interior design education being presented at any university, college, or accredited school of interior design).

Educator Partner

Criteria: actively engaged as the head of or full-time instructor or adjunct instructor in a post-secondary program of interior design education, being presented at any university, college, or accredited school of interior design, provided that such program requires completion of a minimum of a two-year program in interior design and related courses.
Fee: $165/year, plus a one-time application fee of $100.

Professional Educator

Criteria: National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam; be actively engaged as the head of or full-time instructor or adjunct instructor in a post-secondary program of interior design education, being presented at any university, college, or accredited school of interior design, provided that such program requires completion of a minimum of a two-year program in interior design and related courses.
Fee: $165/year, plus a one-time application fee of $100.

Allied Educator

Criteria: 40 semester hours or 60 quarter hours of interior design education from an accredited institution; be actively engaged as the head of or full-time instructor or adjunct instructor in a post-secondary program of interior design education, being presented at any university, college, or accredited school of interior design, provided that such program requires completion of a minimum of a two-year program in interior design and related courses.
Fee: $165/year, plus a one-time application fee of $100.

STUDENT MEMBERSHIP

Criteria: students enrolled in a post-secondary program of interior design education at any accredited university, college, or school of interior design, provided that such program requires completion of a minimum of a two-year program in interior design and related courses, plus completion of 40 semester/60 quarter hours of interior design education from an institution accredited by the appropriate regional or national institutional accrediting body.

Fee: only one-time application fee of $85, valid for six years, or until graduation whichever comes first.

How to Apply for ASID Membership

To apply for a membership with ASID, first make sure you have all the documents, transcripts, and certificates required to apply for the category of your choice. In cases where work experience proof is required, you must submit an ASID Work Experience Form along with the application, which can be downloaded from the website. 

The ASID Work Experience Form form should be completed by a representative from at least two of the four categories- (1) an existing interior design member of ASID, (2) existing industry partner representative member of ASID, (3) current or past employer, and/or (4) current or past clients. Applicants are also required to submit a college transcript that reflects the completion of credit hours in a design-related course.

Applicants should complete the Interior Designer Application form with the required forms and transcripts and submit it through mail or through an online application. Completed applications should be submitted with a one-time non-refundable application fee of $100. Upon joining ASID, members are required to pay the mandatory annual dues. Members have the option to pay straight-up or to pay on an installment basis which is divided across 12 monthly installments by using a credit card. Membership and renewal payments to ASID are all non-refundable. Installment payment plans are not available for students, educators, and industry partner members (except local industry partners).

Aside from paying the annual membership due, members are required to earn a minimum of 1.0 approved Continuing Education Units (CEU) or 10 hours every two years. This is separate from the CEU requirements that are stated in the state legislation for professionals.

Why Should I Join ASID?

Designer Membership Benefits
  1. ASID Appellation: ASID members are encouraged to use the ASID appellation after the member’s name. The industry acknowledges this type of designation as a hallmark of professionalism. Members can include the ASID appellation on their email signature, business cards, and letterhead, among others.
  2. ASID members can advertise their profiles and portfolios in the ASID designer referral service.
  3. Annual subscription to i+D magazine, ASID’s bi-monthly award-winning publication.
  4. Exclusive discounts to ASID events and ASID educational seminars.
  5. ASID members can gain access to educational seminars on-site and through online resources to satisfy the Continuing Education Units which are required for membership renewal.
  6. ASID Advantage: ASID Members can gain access to exclusive discounts on products and services that can be helpful to practitioners and small business owners.

Form contracts: ASID members can gain access to ASID’s updated contract agreement templates for different types of residential and commercial packages through a special package.

Custom insurance programs: ASID Members can avail themselves of an exclusive premier insurance program with coverage that caters to specific requirements in the interior design business such as professional liability insurance, E&O insurance, and business owners’ policies.

Trade pricing and discounts: ASID members will be introduced to a vast network of industry partners and industry representatives that offer design-related products and services. ASID members can also gain access to trades prices and exclusive discounts offered by these industry partners which can help support their businesses.

See more details of member benefits here.

ASID Student Membership Benefits
  1. A “Student Member ASID” appellation
  2. Assistance with NCIDQ preparation.
  3. Access to SCALE: The ASID National Student Summit – the Society’s flagship student event that helps students discover their career paths. 
  4. Student Chapter Awards to recognize achievements among ASID student chapters.
  5. The ASID National Student Portfolio Competition where the best design earns an internship with a reputed firm.
  6.  Networking opportunities with other students and design professionals.
  7. Access to ASID Job Bank.
  8. Invitation to industry events.
  9. Opportunity to apply for scholarships, join student competitions, and win awards.
  10.  Access to ASID’s online research publications.
  11. Opportunity to be a part of charity and volunteer events.
  12. Opportunity to join on-campus and off-campus seminars, lectures, tours, trips, and leadership training sessions.

See more details of benefits here.

ASID Industry Members and Representatives Membership Benefits
  1. A vast network of interior design professionals.
  2.  Membership and participation in local chapters.
  3. Leadership and volunteer opportunities.
  4.  ASID’s in-house educational programs.
  5.  Subscription to ASID’s i+D magazine.
  6.  ASID’s exclusive sponsorship for ASID education and research programs.
  7. ASID Industry Partner Logo.

See full list of benefits here.

Legislative Policy

ASID’s legislative policy was revised in January 2009 to serve the interest of the Society’s members and the profession’s goals. According to the Society’s bylaws, “The ASID legislative policy supports legislation that provides a path for interior designers to become certified, registered or licensed while not limiting, restricting or preventing the practice of interior design.”

As stated in ASID’s Legislative policy, the Society is confident that legal recognition of the interior design profession can be best achieved through the implementation of legislation that:

  1. Does not limit, restrict or prevent the practice of interior design.
  2. Does not limit, restrict or prevent anyone from using the title of “interior design” or “interior designer.”
  3. Allows state-qualified interior designers to use the title “registered”, “certified”, or “licensed” interior designer.
  4. Allows state-qualified interior designers to perform additional services related to the practice of interior design as applicable governing jurisdiction deems appropriate for state-qualified interior designers to perform.

ASID’s bylaws also support the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCDIQ) as the accredited national professional examination that gauges the eligibility and competency of interior designers within the country.

Initiatives

ASID Foundation

ASID Foundation is the affiliated charitable organization of the Society. Its mission is to support initiatives that gather and disseminate knowledge that can lead to innovation and will benefit the health, safety, and welfare of the public through various efforts in interior design research, education, and scholarship.

ASID IDBI

ASID Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI) was launched in November 2010 and was created to summarize the monthly ASID survey of interior design firms within diverse locations in the country. IDBI results provide helpful indications on the current and future condition of the interior design profession. It also provides professionals in the design industry with a perspective on where the economy of interior design is headed.

ASID Research

ASID undertakes research projects to focus on the business, impact, and practice of design in everyday life. The research projects cover broad topics based on types of spaces, stages in career growth, and other design-related topics. Reports of the studies are published on the website and members can download the ones they like. These reports provide indications about current and future trends and developments in the design industry.

Awards, Competitions, and Scholarships
  1. ASID National Awards: The ASID National Awards is considered the highest level of professional recognition within the Society. It celebrates the body of work that a designer has created over the course of their career. It may also recognize specific projects that have demonstrated groundbreaking solutions and innovations. 

The ASID National Awards is categorized into four typologies:

Designer of Distinction – recognizes excellence in interior design.

Designer for Humanity – recognizes design-related activity that positively affects the human living condition in terms of health and wellness, environment, universal and barrier-free design, energy conservation, safety, communication, transportation, and technology.

Design Innovation – recognizes a project or a product that demonstrates how innovation positively affected human conditions and human behavior through comfort, communication, sustainability, technology, health, and wellness.

Design Luminary – recognizes outstanding support for the interior design profession through research, knowledge-sharing, and education.

  1. ASID National Honors: recognizes outstanding efforts by individual members, industry partners, and chapters through fellowship awards.
  2. Student Chapter Awards: recognizes the efforts of student chapters, student chapter leaders, student chapter faculty advisors, and student chapter events.
  3. Student Portfolio Competition: this annual student design competition provides an opportunity for students from across the nation to showcase innovative designs.
  4. Scholarships and Grants: the Society’s scholarship is supported by ASID Foundation and awards financial grants to support research on the impact of design on health and well-being.

What People are Saying about ASID

Pros:

ASID is considered as the largest and the best community of interior designers in the country as shown on members’ feedback on social media. Members consider the Society to be inspiring, engaging, and highly supportive of the interior design profession. Some of the primary reasons as to why individuals decide to be affiliated with ASID are the insurance benefits and the use of appellation that the Society provides. Other deciding factors are the inclusion of the members to a network of designers and industry partners, access to seminars and events, and constant mentoring and leadership opportunities from the Society.

Cons:

The other side of the coin is that ASID Allied members have expressed their dissatisfaction towards ASID’s legislative policies, which according to previous Allied members, are “self-serving, restrictive and biased” and only favors those affiliated under the Professional membership who passed the NCIDQ exam. On December 19, 2008, 25 Allied Members of ASID sent a letter to Michael Alin, ASID’s Executive Director at that time, declaring the group’s resignation due to the Society’s misleading and misinformed use of its legislation and its preferential conduct. The resignation letter also cited the events that transpired under Florida’s anti-competitive design law wherein Florida’s ASID members turned in their fellow members for practicing the profession without passing the NCIDQ examination. In addition, the letter also mentioned how student members were also not able to receive assistance for employment in interior design firms and thereby wound up selling commercial furniture and other commercial products. On January 16, 2009, 20 more ASID Allied Members expressed their dismay over the organization and resigned as members of the Society for primarily the same reason as Group One’s resignation.

Other members who have voiced through social media their decision not to renew explained how they are against the regulation that ASID is pursuing in terms of licensing and registration. Some feel that the fees spent for NCIDQ, for membership, and for legislation is not worth it to gain a license. Allied Members also feel that the Society is not giving them their money’s worth as their names are usually placed on the bottom of ASID’s referral list and they have not received any assistance in obtaining clients. Economic conditions have also stopped some of the members from renewing since they deem that the benefits that they receive from the Society are lower than what they paid for to continue their membership.

Conclusion

Joining an organization such as ASID can have several benefits, as it is still one of the biggest multi-disciplinary professional organizations for interior designers, students, and industry partners. The broad membership categories allow most designers and industry professionals access to ASID resources. While many designers believe that the benefits of networking afforded by ASID far outweigh the demerits, some others say that an ASID membership is not really worth it. It would be a good idea to connect with other designers who have ASID memberships to discuss the pros and cons before applying for membership. 

Keep in mind that we are all different, with differing needs, strengths, financial positions, temperaments, and the like. All of this comes into play when deciding whether ASID membership fits you. Even if membership works or doesn’t work for someone you like and trust doesn’t mean that it will necessarily offer the same experience to you.

Are you a member of ASID? What has been your experience? Do you recommend an ASID membership to other designers and industry partners? Please let us know in the comments below.

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