Many people incorrectly believe an Interior Designer is a single specialism. In fact interior design covers multiple specialisms, each have their own forms of regulations and requirements. Due to popular demand and in order to gain more understanding into the breadth of the interior design industry, SBID have championed and clarified the twelve category disciplines for interior design © to better assist consumers when sourcing a designer for a specialist activity and ensure the correct skills are appropriately matched to the projects requirement. Commercial design is driven by a structured and regulated set of principles, however we serve the profession across ALL categories, locations and price points.
Whilst it is generally understood that a designer enhances the visual impact of a space, it is not understood that a designer is a generic term and much more knowledge is required in the process and outcome of professionally designed space by a specialist SBID Accredited Designer.
According to Matthew Carmona Public spaces range in form from informal street corners to grand civic set pieces. At a larger scale, formal public spaces have long had an important role as the perceived centres of settlements of all types and as the focus for public life, activities and events. At a smaller scale, they might simply be somewhere to rest, hang out, or play whilst providing a visual pause in the flow of streets through urban areas. Interiors of public spaces are defined by SBID as being created as a service for the community such as airports, libraries, schools, museums. Universities, conference centres, train stations, religious buildings and shopping centres.
A designer skilled in public space design is experienced in safely moving a volume of people through an area, ensuring the surfaces are durable, appropriate in wet conditions when entering from the street, and lighting, maintenance and general cleaning is sustainable and safe. Particular attention to Health and Safety regulations which differ in such locations to alternative spaces.
Retail design is a creative and commercial discipline that combines several different areas of expertise together. Retail design is primarily a specialised practice of architecture and interior design, however it also incorporates elements of interior decoration, industrial design, graphic design, ergonomics, and advertising. (Retail design, n.d.) Retail design is a very specialised discipline due to the heavy demands placed on retail space.
Retail spaces, especially when they form part of a retail chain, must also be designed to draw people into the space to shop. The storefront must act as a billboard for the store, often employing large display windows that allow shoppers to see into the space and the product inside. In the case of a retail chain, the individual spaces must be unified in their design to create a recognisable identity. Retail space design must particularly consider assisted access for wheelchairs and buggies, shopping trolleys, the materials specified must be durable and edges must be considered for safety. Colour and signage (pathway) generate a passive route of direction to avoid customer collision. Heat and ventilation, noise control and lighting assist sales as well as providing a passive and enjoyable journey for the customer.
According to SBID retail design includes the interiors of shopping centre’s shops, showrooms, pop-up shops, arcades and galleries.
Government design is a sector carried out by a suitably qualified and pre-approved designer with external third party management criteria approval. This ensures that in case of disaster or default, a third party could take over avoiding delay to the project timeframe. A designer is highly competent to work on government projects having qualified admin processes, would then need to demonstrate competence in the supply chain for product sourcing and supply, particularly for after-care service. Materials are checked for best value and budget control scrutinised Between multi layers of governmental departments to ensure the best value is achieved. Whilst government always insist on paying a designers fee, the fee paid is measured against other trades standard rates to ensure the correct payments are met. The skills are varied and numerous. Very heavy duty industrial products are required. Function and durability, manufacture and reliability is key. Lighting, cleaning and function as well as longevity are key components. Schemes that do not date, that will suit all demographics as well as geographical locations must be considered along with capital costs, logistics and often country of origin is an additional consideration. The government are particularly interested when designing or creating any interior structure to ensure it looks ahead thirty years. It must therefore consider energy consumption as a core element.
When you think about your workplace, you don’t tend to think that it has been designed by a team of interior designers who have thought about your work behavioural patterns. In the same way retail design is created with the consumer in mind, Office design is largely created with the employee in mind.
According to Office Space designers Saracen interiors, Good office space layout isn’t just ‘nice to have’. When you want to get the best out of the people you employ, the psychology of office space really matters. Making the most of people’s talents involves making sure they’re happy, safe and comfortable. It means showing them their welfare genuinely matters to you. And it means creating an office layout design that is just as inspiring as it is practical and fit-for-purpose.
SBID promote that office design should reflect a pleasant, efficient workspace and meets the needs of both the client and the employees who work in the space. Lighting and noise control are key elements along with path finding, bathrooms and personal storage. Increasingly additional consideration to security of personal possessions such as bicycles and showers is included as well as to those who visit the building, their needs and the identity of the company should be demonstrated by the design, materials, space layout and ethos of the company (such as creative, consumer, investment etc) the design will emulate the values of the company.
Residential interior design refers to the design of a home either for a new construction build or redesigning the interior of an existing home.
Residential Designers may specialise in a particular area of residential design such as kitchens, bathrooms, home offices, custom furniture, specialised workspaces, children’s rooms and home appliance design.3
Unlike commercial design, an interior designer’s client is usually the end user (the person / family who intend to live in the space). Residential interior designers pay particular attention to their client’s taste, the use of the space, any specific allergies and items to address as well as how their client would like their personal uniqueness to be expressed.
As with any property budgets for residential design are dependent on the size of the property as well as the taste of the client and generally the style of the dwelling and of course it’s occupants age and proposed longevity of the installation.
Residential design might be for a whole building or for one room eg. Kitchen or bathroom.
Marine design has extremely strict compliance due to weight, fire and risk of water damage. All products must have approval for suitability if fitted by the boat builder which is independently governed by safety management certificates for cruise or passenger boats and domestic boats. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standards are agreed under European law before passing into UK legislation additional regulations that relate to alternative vessel types also exist. Maintenance and construction of all forms of electrical equipment have stringent regulations. Materials should be water resistant and fade resistant as well as vibration resilience. A yacht designer is a core specialism which requires a vast amount of safety-guideline knowledge, ergonomic design and inherent specialisms. Designers without these core skills might specify decorative items only, this is not considered by SBID to be Marine-design competent
An Aeronautical designer is competent in the fire regulations of all materials specified which have their own specialist coding. Due to the high safety element of every materials requirement aeronautical design is generally an industrial designer skill and just a few design practices work in this sector. Interior design is often then included within their overarching remit rather than independently. The compliance of the materials performance and certification is paramount, the performance, safety and hygiene elements are quite specific, and a general interior designer would not be qualified nor should undertake this specialism without adequate training, qualification and insurance as well as third party reference. SBID recognise this category as highly competent based and those without third party approval should not engage in this highly trained ergonomic design competence.
Transport design has improved increasingly as cars place design higher on their agenda as a main reason for the buyer’s choice of purchase. Emphasis on ergonomic design knowledge and science/mathematical equation play a huge emphasis on the choice of material and surfaces in the design and performance of products such as seating, lighting, flooring and colour. This sector of design requires the most durability from materials and safety design is a core element shape and form is created by the industrial designer who design the compartment and sometimes in conjunction with a specialist experienced and trained transport interior designer will jointly create a colour scheme and surface materials for a brand as part of a range or corporate identity.
Investors who purchase buildings that were designed for one use such as a factory, bank, church or large house etc. Might change its use and convert it to a restaurant, flats, hotel etc. This alteration to the structure, drainage, power and water requirements along with weight and services placement are frequently addressed alongside an interior designer. Knowledge of change of use criteria for the conversion is essential as well as budget control and infrastructure criteria for Health and safety compliance is required. This style of interior design requires practical design knowledge and huge construction-based overlap knowledge such as drainage, floor levels, door frames and locks compliance for insurers and security knowledge when specifying ironmongery. The additional knowledge of the end-use specialism is also required such as restaurant, home etc.
Hospitality design focuses on the interiors of a commercial premises for service industries which includes hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, casino’s, cafés, pop-up or temporary restaurants, spas, lounges and more.
As the hospitality industry is one of the largest performing sectors, designers play in important role in ensuring the design maximises the space’s functionality from a financial perspective. Good interior design will include the time it will take to serve a drink from behind the bar by ensuring specific product layout and height of the bar and consumer access to the bar along with trading hours, leisure seating layout, the pitch of a seat back (differing from eating, learning or reclining for leisure) these important small factors define good design from great designer knowledge.
Healthcare design is driven by the patients needs and restrictions to maximise their quality of care. This can be a dental practice, hospital, sports therapy centre, nursing homes or any care-related property. Design in a healthcare environment focusses primarily on the patient or user needs as well as careers and visitors.
Wellness design in a similar form focuses on the patient or visitor’s experience whilst within the space it also focuses on how the space or environment makes an individual feel. This could be anything from a colour that stimulates which might cause anxiety to feet on a piece of furniture that might cause a fall. Utilising areas to improve the visitor’s wellbeing covers smell, colour, noise and emotional distress. The key development in wellness design more recently involves bringing in nature-related design and sustainable materials, notably called Biophillic design in which the designers create sensory engaging design to create a relaxing and welcoming environment. This style of design has been incorporated into SBID approved interior design courses and centres of excellence across the UK.
Kitchen, Bedrooms & Bathroom design sits in the residential sector. It has in the past twenty years grown large enough in scale and product choice to be defined into its own sector of interior design. Kitchen and bathroom design requires its own area of design knowledge; electric, plumbing, extraction, heating, windows/privacy design and water flow rates for specifying showers, imperial or metric pipe connections and ceramic disc suitability or not when selecting a tap to ensure it can stand up to the buildings pressure if providing multi floors etc .
A Kitchen designer must ensure doors open to the most appropriate angle by specifying the correct hinge radius without causing damage or harm to surrounding space or individuals. The layout design must comply with building regulations regarding safety and distance of water and electricity outlets and the layout must ensure the user can work and move around comfortable in a correctly spaced zone to prevent accident and eliminate excessive walking. Kitchen design is particularly difficult due to compliance regulations as well as the projects budget. Mathematical skills are a benefit although software eliminates error, good design processing is performed using a combination of manual and software skills.
Bedrooms were added to this sector as the skills and tools required to create kitchen cabinets are equal to those for bedroom storage. Space planning is a design category that incorporates all the needs presented by the client to store and move around in a zone.
KBB related to the design of a single room or several rooms relating to the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom in a residential space.
A designer in these room sets will help clients in all aspects of the space including colour, fixtures, wall coverings, lighting, surfaces and appliances.
To help you choose the right designer for your project, define what you require the designer to do…
Define the project category as Commercial or Residential:
The purpose is to determine the product specification legalities. Building Regulations differ entirely for products suitable for public space and the home. Simply put, products are specified for fire and a variety of other compliance’s for different use and performance.
Define the designer’s role in 7 easy steps:
SBID advise to use their 7 easy steps in helping you to define a designer’s role, which will in turn make the project brief clearer for the designer but also help you establish exactly what type of designer you should require for your project.
1. Create a Scheme and Surfaces Schedule
Defining what a client wants, when often the client doesn’t know themselves is a dilemma designers are used to assessing. However when the client does not know what they want, it is a challenge. Be clear on the outcome required along with the use and performance of the space. Create a Brief that clarifies how long you would expect the products to last, their purpose and frequency of use and create a list of ‘do’s and dont’s’ as a designer guide. The designer will then have sufficient information to present a image, drawing, CGI as agreed.
The designer will assemble a presentation and adjust agreed changes so as to generate a product scheme and present the purpose of each product performance, material and the plan layout for client consideration. Be clear on what you do not like or want changed at this juncture so that your Project Budget can be generated accurately. Every change and addition will impact on the budget by product fees and designer’s fees.
3. At this stage you will have an idea if the direction of the project matches the Interior Designer’s skills
The specialisms each project requires are varied so be clear on the skills you require. An Interior Designer is divided into the SBID twelve categories. To meet the different legal and compliant issues of the project ensure you commission a designer with experience to define and determine the legal, compliant and aesthetic requirements of your Brief. Define your projects core skill needs to avoid pitfalls.
4. Specification and Sourcing
Designers source trade only supply products so consumers will not be able to find these items themselves unless sourcing ‘residential retail’ products. Trade items are strictly for trade professionals as they have acquired the skills to correctly install these items and do so in a cost effective efficient way. A commercial client can purchase directly but a home owner may not. Contract wallcovering is approximately two thirds wider than residential wallcovering. Strict criteria for mixed fabric specification and upholstery must also be complied with for fire regulations. Contract design is almost an entirely different skill and procurement process. An SBID Accredited designer has acquired skills pioneered by SBID now adopted industry-wide to define contract (known also as commercial) design and residential design.
A designer works in one of three ways;
1. Design Only – this entitles the client to a schedule of recommended products and a layout plan. Often the designer will work alongside an Architect on internal layout drawings in a new development.
2. Design and Supply – This includes step one but will incur an additional fee for the designer to supply the specified products to the client. The product sourcing, ordering, checking on accuracy and condition only. It does not include managing client returns, delivery error, manufacture delay or damage although these items are usually carried out as negotiated for a fee.
3. Design, Supply and Manage – This complete package includes installation fees for decoration items. It includes overseeing procurement processes and is charged at an agreed day rate additional fee to the Design Fee.
On completion of works a designer is usually commissioned to complete the project by returning to layout the ’installation’. This is an additional fee but it will add that final touch and provide the professional image intended. Sometimes just changing the angle of a piece of furniture or the relocation of an item makes all the difference and so this step is very much recommended. An install of a commercial project is usually a team project.
SBID recommend that a client handover is carried out on completion. The designer should walk through the project with the client to ‘snag’ any items that need addressing. This provides the client opportunity to raise any issues outstanding or unsatisfactory. The terms of the contract will often define the time limit to raise any issues.
Accreditation helps you or your studio demonstrate a level of expertise to clients, separating qualified professionals from the hobbyist or social influencers.
Interior Design professionals at all levels of their career as well as Industry Partners benefit from becoming SBID Accredited.
Becoming ‘SBID Accredited’ means that you have had the highest assessed industry benchmark* in a promoted category of interior design capabilities.
Find out more about our flexible membership structure.
SBID will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at [email protected] We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.
We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.
By subscribing, you agree to be added to SBID’s mailing list. As the industry’s standard bearer organisation, we strive to bring you the most up to date news and access to exclusive industry content through our various newsletters.