Why It Is Illegal to Use the Title “Interior Architect”


There are state laws protecting the use of the title “Architect” and the practice and title of “Architecture” in the California State Business and Professions code.  It requires specific degrees and other licensing steps. The California Architects Board does not allow use of that title by anyone who is not a licensed architect in California.  The title is vigorously defended, and regulators are known to check the web and other advertising platforms to find those who use the title unlawfully, and find those who are outside the law.

In other words, it is illegal. Using those titles is not an option for someone who is not a licensed architect in California.


Our webpage lists recent cases of designers who have advertised their work as architecture or interior architecture.  In the last few years, designers and others using those terms have been fined a thousand, or up to several thousand dollars, when brought before the architects’ board.

The California Architects Board (CAB) has caught many individuals over the years for holding themselves out as an architect without a license for using such words as architect, architecture, and architectural when describing themselves, their services, and their agreements.

For example, did you know that by describing your construction documents as architectural drawings you are violating the law unless you are a licensed architect in this state? As a designer, Certified or otherwise, you are preparing construction drawings, or documents, not architectural drawings.

All unlicensed individuals using the title interior architect or interior architectureis to hold oneself out as an architect and imply that you are a licensed architect, when in fact, you are not; as clearly explained in the Unlicensed Practice Penalty form provided on the California Architect’s Board Website.


No, not legal.

Attending or graduating from an interior design program calling itself “Interior Architecture” does not give one the right to use the title “Architect” or “Architecture” in their descriptions or activities.

The term “Interior Architect” is not a real profession or title.  This language is used as a marketing tool by some universities, national interior design organizations, examining bodies and accrediting bodies, likely thinking these titles somehow elevate the profession.  Using an illegal title  does nothing to elevate the profession.

CAB Enforcement Actions Against the use of Interior Architect (click on the links for complete details):

A Word of Caution for the Schools!

CCIDC has discussed with the California Architect’s Board (CAB), the legality of allowing the schools to call their programs interior architecture. CAB has researched this and told us they have absolutely no jurisdiction in this area and that the schools can call their programs whatever they choose. It is the individuals graduating from these programs who are restricted by law, as to what they can and cannot call themselves. It is basically an act of individual responsibility.

If more people are caught and cited and fined by CAB for using the term “Interior Architect” after graduating from one of these programs, and leave the school with the impression that it is okay to use such a title, there will be the possibility of legal culpability on the part of the school. These schools, especially the ones in California, need to make it very clear to all students enrolling in their interior architecture programs are not legally allowed to use that title.

Even if a school disavows the use of this title, a faculty member advocating such could drag them into an expensive legal battle, with their former student(s). Why not change it back to interior design and avoid the whole possibility of conflict?

CCIDC’s position is aligned with that of CAB. We are interior designers, they are architects. There is no such thing as a hybrid between the two and there never will be. If you want to practice architecture then become an architect. If you want to practice interior design at a professional level, then become a Certified Interior Designer. That is your title as allowed by the state of California, under the law, through CCIDC.