Skills and remit of a professional interior designer

The skills of a professional interior designer is rather specialist, in the same way that the role of a professional interior designer is separate to an interior decorator or a hobbyist. Based on the lack of clarity of a professional interior designer’s responsibility and skill sets, The Society of British & International Design actively promote the differences between the roles, clarifying the route towards a professional career in interior design and as an interior design association, continue to work towards title recognition for the industry.

To sustain a long-term professional career in interior design, there are a number of skills that a residential or commercial interior designer needs in order to be regarded as a professional.

Below is a breakdown of skills required along with a number of remits that sit within a professional interior designer’s responsibility

Artistic vision

Interior designers use their personal sense of style to develop a scope of aesthetically pleasing and compliant design layouts for commercial or residential environments. Like all creative skills this requires a blend of training and personal flair.

Artistic vision
Creative direction

Creative direction

Interior designers configure the internal space layout to provide improved;

  • Safety to move around in
  • Spatial performance
  • Visual enhancement through the selection and collation of compliant and fit-for-purpose products that will enhance the well-being and performance of those who will use the space.

Detail of scheme.

Interior designers create a design scheme for client approval using colour and product selection. They then generate working drawings for the contractors’ functions such as electrical switches and sockets, heating plans and plumbing locations. Designers will provide the technical CAD product drawings and codes of recommended appliances for overlapping contractor skills such as Architects, engineers, plumbers and electricians as well as other trade contractors such as a joiner and tiler to scope their quotes from.

Details of scheme
Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills

Interior designers need to be able to communicate their vision effectively with clients and other members of the design and build team. Their time, once specification and finishes schedules are agreed, is spent on ensuring their design interpretation is not amended by other skills without direct consultation so as to eliminate error of custom-fit orders. Throughout each project procurement, professional designers will attend the site with suppliers, installers and managers, to ensure collaboration with other designers, engineers and general building contractors are adhered with.

An internal interior designers diarised record of amendments and changes is advised as sub-contractors may not be directly engaged with the interior designer and without good management from the Project Manager disputes can arise.


Interior designers need a strong sense of proportion and visual awareness in order to understand how the pieces of a design will fit together to create the intended environment. Computer generated images (CGI) are used to demonstrate to the client what the end result will look like before ‘design freeze’. Once design-freeze is confirmed no further amendments should occur.

Problem solving

Problem-solving skills

Interior designers must address challenges, such as construction delays or unavailability of certain materials, incorrectly delivered or damaged products while keeping the project on time and within budget. Designers will also need to review the entire scheme for adverse effect whenever a change occurs through construction amendments. As such, changes can alter custom-fitted measurements provided to sub-contractors after design-freeze. Changes that occur after design-freeze may impact on schedules and cause both delays and additional costs from the interior designer to review, amend and address such changes. When design freeze is confirmed the designers ‘scheme’ is completed. A day rate attendance throughout procurement is advised to respond to any questions as they may occur.


At present, the interior design profession is unregulated almost entirely around the world, which means that any disputes that arise between a professional interior designer and a client or consumer do not have the appropriate regulatory support that a designer in another profession (such as Architecture) would have.

The Society of British and International Design (SBID) has led a government campaign to amend the issue so as to further protect the consumer from risk. Reviewing the challenges and opportunities since 2009 it was uniquely awarded powers to amend the content of a degree course to enable a graduate to be fit for employment. As an professional interior design association, it has directly consulted with the Bank of England on the risks the industry faces and has been the representative body exclusively representing interior design at the all-party lobby group for business at the House of Commons.


For more information on the role of a professional interior designer or to find out how to become accredited click here

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