Practice Guidelines

Disclaimer: Practice guidelines provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice. Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and what may constitute professional misconduct.

B. Practice

2. Architects and Interior Design

New York State Education Law addresses the services which may and may not be provided by a certified interior designer, but it does not restrict the practice to those who are so licensed. It is a title law only. Anyone may use the title "Interior Designer" and provide the same services as a "Certified Interior Designer".

An architect retained to design a complete building designs both the exterior and the interior and in doing so needs to indicate how, or if, both the interior and exterior surfaces are finished. As interior design services are taxable in New York, the architect would be prudent to obtain a separate contract if interior design services, beyond those which are an integral part of the architectural services, are to be provided.

While an architect may retain an interior designer as a consultant, or have an interior designer on staff, and pass on those services to the client, an interior designer or firm may not pass on architectural or engineering services to the client. There is nothing to prevent an interior design firm from having an architect on staff to participate or assist in the provision of interior design services, however, even if the architect has ownership in the interior design firm, the firm itself is still not authorized to provide architectural services.

When architectural or engineering (A/E) services are involved in an interior design project the following approaches might be considered:

  1. The client may retain his/her own architect or engineer.


  2. A three-way contract may be entered into whereby the interior design services and reimbursement are clearly identified, the A/E services and reimbursement are clearly identified and the agreement is signed by the interior designer, the A/E and the client. The key issue is that the interior design firm is not providing those services for which it is not authorized and is not agreeing to supply an A/E for a job where those services are an integral part of the overall project.

Pursuant to Sections 8301 and 8303 of the Education Law, interior design work is not, and cannot be, architectural or engineering work. In addition, architects and engineers should not sign and seal documents that do not involve any architectural or engineering work. It could be considered misleading or fraudulent to sign and seal work as though it represented architectural or engineering services when, in fact, no such services are contained in the work.

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Last Updated: April 15, 2021