The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) was established in 1970 as the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER; renamed in 2006 to CIDA), using the legal structure of an Indenture of Trust. Its first Board of Trustees represented the American Institute of Interior Designers (AID), the National Society of Interior Designers (NSID), and the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC). Created to address a need for accreditation in the interior design profession in North America, as identified in IDEC’s 1968 A Critical Study of Interior Design Education and as promoted in IDEC’s 1970 Guidelines for the Accrediting on Interior Design Educational Programs, the organization developed standards and guidelines for accreditation, administered a pilot program, and prepared an accreditation procedure.

In 1997, the Board of Trustees represented IDEC, ASID (merger of AID and NSID in 1975), IIDA (merger of the Institute of Business Designers/IBD, the International Society of Interior Designers/ISID, and the Council of Federal Interior Designers/CFID), Interior Designers of Canada (IDC), industry, and public-at-large, reflecting a shared commitment to design education. It held regular planning sessions to address the need for financial support of accreditation. In 1998, with the support of the founding organizations, FIDER/CIDA restructured its organization to a Michigan nonprofit corporation, one designed to maintain productive connections with all “communities of interest.”

The organization evolved and developed its accreditation processes to keep pace with changes occurring within the industry it serves by promoting and establishing excellence in the interior design profession and protecting the public from professional incompetence. It has an earned reputation for credibility and value through its support for the continuous improvement and enhancement of interior design education, and hence the profession itself. The number of accredited interior design programs increased substantially since its inception. Click here for a complete history of accredited  programs.

Presented by Buie Harwood, FIDEC, Honorary FASID, with assistance from Holly Mattson, CIDA Executive Director; Dr. Josette Rabun, FIDEC, ASID; Dr. Joy Dohr, FIDEC, IIDA; and Curt Sherman, FIDEC, ASID.

Arnold Friedman, 1968

Joint Committee for the Accreditation of Schools (AID, NSID, and IDEC) formed following a review of the Critical Study by Friedmann.

In November 1968, representatives of AID, NSID, and IDEC “met in Chicago to assess the three major recommendations of a Critical Study of Interior Design Education. It was quickly apparent that all of us gave particular credence to the proposal for creation of a body to accredit schools of interior design, and from that meeting came formation of the Joint Committee for the Accreditation of Schools.” The committee met frequently in 1969 and 1970 to discuss the accreditation process, development, and guidelines.

Establishment of the Trust

"The trust is created and shall be operated for the purpose of establishing and administering a voluntary plan for the special accreditation of interior design education offered at institutions of higher learning located throughout the United States, its possessions, and Canada, and such a plan shall emphasize the use of accreditation procedures to assure the purposes and accomplishments of programs of interior design students and the interior design profession and serve as a means of protecting the public against professional incompetence."

An oral history from Richard Rankin on FIDER

Dick Rankin was IDEC President in 1967 and a FIDER Trustee in 1970. These are his comments about the start of FIDER: “FIDER was the result of the growth of interior design education, the recognition that some fundamental areas of visual and psychological skills needed to be a part of all aspects of interior design education. The U.S. Dept. of Education, National Commission on Education, AID, NSID, AIA and of course IDEC, exerted some pressure for some consistency in the educational thrusts of university programs, professional programs, residential-commercial design, and architectural emphasis to ensure proficiency required to serve the public at large. FIDER was the agency to award assurance of educational subject inclusions, competence of classroom delivery, appropriate credits, and proof of accomplishments required for professional recognition on a national level, those appropriate for proscribing human environments.”

The first FIDER Trustees are (left to right) Edward Perrault, President of AID and FIDER chair; Anna Brightman, IDEC President in 1969; Roslyn Mallin, NSID and a subsequent FIDER chair; James Merrick Smith, past President of AID; James Hewlett, NSID Chairman; and Richard Rankin, IDEC President in 1967.

Support for the FIDER Accreditation Program

"The program for the accreditation of interior design educational programs is one of the first administrative and legislative attempts to secure and establish the profession of interior design. Interior design in the past has had good public relations, but it has not had legal status. The program as proposed will give the necessary governmental and university recognition previously lacking for the profession."

Jerry Nielson, 1972

FIDER presented the first logo for stationary and documents

The Definition of the Interior Designer stated:

"A professional interior designer is one who is qualified by education and experience to identify, research, and creatively solve problems relative to the function and quality of man’s proximate environment. His competency includes fundamental design, design analysis, space planning and programming, the design of all interior space, and understanding of other related aspects of environmental design. His technological development includes knowledge of structure with emphasis on interior construction; knowledge of building systems, equipment, components; and ability in communication, quantative, and administrative skills. His education and experience have developed an awareness and an analytical understanding of the needs of man which can be fulfilled by the design of his surroundings. His design sensitivity, creative and conceptual abilities combined with technical proficiency affect a breadth and depth of design solutions that will serve the needs of man today and in the future."

FIDER awarded accreditation for the first time to six interior design programs: University of Cincinnati, the University of Texas at Austin, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Georgia, University of Missouri, and Texas Technical University.

Gary Robinette & Dr. Anna Brightman, 1973

Kate Ellen Rogers, Ron Veitch, Joy Dohr

FIDER celebrated its 10th anniversary as an organization during the ASID conference.

Accreditation Committee

Map of Accreditation

1980 FIDER Board

Lyman Johnson, the IFI President, and Edna Kane

Michael Wirtz, Erli Gronberg, and Betty McKee Treanor

1998 FIDER site visitors

Rationale for the new FIDER

"The restructured FIDER divides responsibility between a Board of Directors for governing and an Accreditation Commission for making accreditation decisions on programs. For the new nine-member Board of Directors, ASID, IIDA, IDC, IDEC, NCIDQ will each appoint a director. These five directors representing the professional organizations will appoint four additional directors to represent the public, industry, accredited programs, and the Accreditation Commission. Expanding involvement of various stakeholder groups is an obvious benefit of the new structure. The potential for stronger relationships and better communications with the professional organizations is another. Formal linkage with NCIDQ recognizes current collaboration and the need for a seamless foundation for the profession. With the division of responsibilities, more realistic workloads will expand the pool of potential board members."

FIDER Board at Falkridge

CIDA Board, 2010

The Innovative Interior Design Education Award

"The CIDA Board of Directors believes the Innovative Interior Design Education Award is an important step toward further recognizing methods that lead the way in educational innovation. CIDA's goal with the award is to support and join the wide variety of efforts underway throughout higher education and the professional organizations to collect and share information about creative practices that advance interior design education."