Fair Trading


SBID launched a campaign to create a charging standard for interior design services, lobbying government to support a proposal to curb ‘Free Design’ by registered design professionals. 

SBID has been campaigning alongside respected government peers on ways to support the design industry.

The Fair Trade Policy supports SBID Members when clients use anti-competitive conduct to negotiate trade discount as part of the service they buy from the designer. It is not good practice for design professionals to pass on trade discounts. SBID supports the trade in these difficult economic times by taking action to stamp out the conduct.

  • SBID campaigns against free design. Interior Design is a valued professional industry. We do not give our value away, we sell it.
  • SBID promotes trade pricing to the trade, and not to the consumer. This policy protects the retailer, the specifier and the manufacturer.

SBID does not advise on hourly rate fees but we do promote transparency. Members are therefore invited to adopt the SBID Fair Trade Pricing Policy.


  1. Protects Trade Price: Designers can get products and goods from suppliers and manufacturers at better rates than the consumer. The reasons for this are that designers provide regular, returning trade to wholesalers and the overheads of selling to them are less than the general public. Repeat trade buyers do not need one-to-one attention in the same way that a first time buyer requires. Providers recognise the value of regular purchases by the design profession and use incentives for repeat business. It is not and never has been the intention of trade suppliers to create a two-tier retail pricing structure. As designers it is our duty as a profession to respect and support the pricing policies offered by our industry suppliers.
  2. Supports Consumers rights to know the actual value of the design fee for comparison. Even if the fee is rolled into an inclusive bill, the design fee must be individually priced. Only by promoting such transparency can consumers make an informed choice on the value of each service and product offered. It is necessary in allowing consumers to make a like-for-like comparison.
  3. Promotes a Design Fee for a design service provided. SBID does not support or promote free design. Free design is unsustainable. Offers by some designers of free design or price included design undermine the value of the work a designer has trained to perform. Promoting a free service means that providers fees and costs are rolled into alternative services and makes it difficult for potential customers to check prices via comparisons. An SBID member is a trained, experienced and qualified professional. They have made an investment of time and money to obtain a valued qualification. Their services have a value which should be respected and paid for. If a free service is being offered, the monetary value of that service should be clearly defined in writing.

To support members, SBID provides a letter by request (to admin@sbid.org) outlining the Fair Trade Pricing Policy.


Vanessa Brady, SBID President, said: “Trade discount is for trade, not retail, and mixing the two is unfair to all parties. The SBID Fair Trading Policy does not support the practice of designers passing trade discounts to their customers because it holds back the development of interior design as a profession and ultimately costs each market sector profit and reputation.

“SBID’s aim in implementing the Fair Trading Policy is specifically to further separate hobbyists from professionals and, in doing so, raise the standards of the entire profession.”

SBID launched a campaign to create a charging standard for interior design services. It is lobbying the government to support a proposal to abandon ‘free design’ by registered design professionals. Under the policy, a transparent billing system that sets out all services such as sourcing and supplying products would be a recommended part of any design contract.

The thinking behind this is simple. Retail prices need to be higher to counterbalance the considerable cost of stock, showroom space, staffing, after-sales service and product training. Designers get trade discounts on products because manufacturers want to keep them as returning customers – unlike regular consumers who are primarily one-off purchasers. Finally, the fee a designer earns in a trade price reflects the many services the designer might perform, such as specifying products, installing, taking delivery and organising returns, etc..

Design practitioners who share trade prices as leverage to obtain projects or provide a free design service and make their income solely from supplying products, are undermining an efficient and effective business model. It is neither appropriate nor financially sustainable for design professionals to provide their knowledge and advice free of charge. It is by charging a fee for the trained services of a professional designer, that a designer generates income.

March 2012

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