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The role of an Interior Designer

An interior designer’s role is to sell advice. As that advice can directly impact on wellbeing and safety of consumers, especially in a commercial environment, that advice must be qualified and independently measured. Inaccurate advice will incur cost, delay and risk to the consumer which will impact on the designer and their suppliers, causing industry complaints and bad reputation.

A designer must possess knowledge of a multitude of skills. From technical knowledge to costing, the skills of a designer must be fit for purpose, function and on budget for the consumer as well as meet the desired aesthetic on time. Interior designers operate in a variety of commercial and residential sectors such as public space design, retail, restaurant and bar, hotels and residential developments.

This multi-faceted profession is not simply a flair as many assume, but requires practical training and years of practice. Uniquely founded on education, SBID was created to address the fact that in the UK, interior design is not a legally registered profession. In striving to create a protected professional title, SBID was set up to engender consumer confidence in a profession that currently does not require a formal training path in the UK.

SBID was the first organisation in the UK to recognise education by degree as a condition of membership as laid out by the ECIA Education Charter. We promote the skills that a designer must possess and we provide the tools to assist those who, on occasion, need assistance to strengthen their skill sets. In 2009, SBID received the pre-eminent status as the sole British interior design representative in the European Council of Interior Architects.

Read more about the distinctions within the profession of interior design below.

International differences in the titles and responsibilities of an Interior Designer

In many countries, the title which the UK refer to as an Interior Designer is assumed to be an Interior Decorator, although the outcome would be the same, the description is different and causes confusion. Based on the lack of clarity of an Interior Designer’s role worldwide and the fact that the term Interior Architect is prohibited in the UK (because the word Architect is a protected title) and many other countries around the world, SBID have clarified the definition of an interior design professional and continues to work towards title recognition in the UK for an Interior Designer.


An architect designs the look, shape and function of a building so as to be safe and legally compliant. In the UK, the title of ‘architect’ is protected. Only those registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) who have also gained a BA degree from a recognised educational institution may describe themselves as an architect. The skills include the design of a building structure: how it looks on the outside and how the space is divided within. Qualified architects can provides some interior design services and some may also offer interior decoration services.

Interior Designer

The title of an interior designer is not protected in the UK and anyone can legally describe themselves as such without any training or qualification. The title refers to the outcome and impact on the wellbeing, safety and function of the interior performance of a building.

An SBID-accredited interior designer is responsible for the design of the internal space of a building or structure. This could be a fixed building or a moving structure such as boat or airplane. It relates to the layout and configuration of interior space and includes the skills of first fix installation to buildings such as kitchens, bathrooms, path-finding and surfaces. It also incorporates the responsibilities of what is often referred to as a ‘space designer’ in other countries.

An interior designer may also carry out interior decoration but may NOT provide the services of an architect.

Where to find an accredited Professional Interior Designer

Interior Decorator

There is some confusion around this role, partly due to the fact that interior decorators are often mistakenly described in consumer publications and on entertainment shows as interior designers.

A decorator provides styling and adornment of beautiful items and objects after the interior design is complete. This is possibly the most misunderstood role within the interior design industry. Decorators do not provide advice on space, structural reconfiguration or fittings. An architect and interior designer may also provide the service of a decorator but a decorator cannot provide the service of an interior designer or architect.

Where to find an Interior Decorator

Interior Decorators are often featured in consumer magazines and online sources.

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Accreditation helps you or your studio demonstrate a level of expertise to clients, separating qualified professionals from the hobbyist or social influencers.
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Code of Conduct

SBID supports its members in the promotion and protection of the global standing of British interior design.

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SBID Awards

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Becoming ‘SBID Accredited’ means that you have had the highest assessed industry benchmark* in a promoted category of interior design capabilities.
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