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Following on from my last post, I wanted to discuss non-payment in more detail and explain SBID’s role in putting a stop to it for the industry.

Getting paid by a client at the end of a project can be a thorny issue for interior designers; it is still one of the biggest challenges designers face. We are the first in and the last out of every project, which leaves us vulnerable to exposure to any faults generated during procurement of any other trade involved. This can leave designers susceptible to criticism or unnecessary conflict as pressures mount to complete projects on time. Blame is sometimes directed at the last trade on site, ie the designer and, in some cases, the contractor.

When money runs out due to procurement overspend, clients look to save from alternative destinations. With construction professionals and designers the most unregulated, they are vulnerable to client abuse. Notably when the sums are substantial, some clients believe it’s worth chancing non-payment. Building contractors and designers are two trades where all-encompassing skills are required therefore withholding payment puts the designer or contractor under financial burden, making them more willing to settle for a lower sum than the due amount.  The costs and delays incurred by court proceedings often outweigh the sums in question, a factor that is heavily leaned on as negotiations between client, contractor or designer begin.

This unfair and very common industry injustice is a challenge I am addressing. Along with industry recognition, the issue of non-payment is something I have raised regularly at cross-party government meetings in Parliament as the representative for Interior Design; and is one of the many reasons that ten years ago I set up the Society of British and International Design (SBID).

This year the SBID is celebrating ten years in business. It is the largest interior design organisation across Europe and the British representative of the European Council of Interior Architects. I am now on the second phase of this journey. It’s unacceptable in 2019 for a recognised business, industry or individual to be prevented from achieving a fair legal conclusion to an injustice, based solely upon financial restriction – whether that restriction is the cost of appealing the injustice or client knowledge that financially withholding payment is a negotiating tool for discount or sometimes worse.

The skills and responsibilities involved in interior design is misunderstood by most of the public. The perception is an interior designer is, for many, based upon years of television shows that incorrectly label the protagonists as interior designers when they are often, in fact, interior decorators. Challenging the misconceptions surrounding the role of a professional designer is something I have spent many years addressing at cross-party government meetings in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

I don’t like to lose so I won’t fight unless I can win, even when it has taken years to achieve a successful outcome as in a recent case you can read more about here. When a win is achieved it’s proof that the determination not to fold and the effort invested to fight an injustice is worth it.

Written by Dr Vanessa Brady OBE

Award-winning Interior Designer, CEO & Founder of the Society of British and International Design


Two of the biggest problems designers usually face in business are lining up the next project and getting paid the final instalment of the project in hand. The latter is rarely talked about but after a recent experience, I feel it is time to end the taboo and discuss this issue more openly. 

I recently won a legal case against administrator Keith Algie of RSM UK Group LLP acting against my client who was unfortunately pursued relentlessly by the administrator’s solicitor; Matthew Whyatt formerly of Cassell Moore Solicitors (no longer trading) now trading as Alexander Whyatt LLP. They wound my client’s company up for a debt of £13,000. Unfortunately, they had failed to correctly serve the payment request at the correct address provided by the client. Papers were served at an address entirely unknown to my client which resulted in their rightful ability (due to non-payment) to wind up the company and also bankrupt my client for non-payment. The claim was unopposed (due to my client not receiving the documents served by Whyatt).

After my client was put into administration, together they (Whyatt on instruction from his client Algie) tried to reclaim the designer’s fee I’d received by incorrectly claiming that no design work was carried out and that the fee therefore belonged to the administrator. My client ceased works when administrator’s fees were added to their sole debt of £13,000 for court costs. The administrator claimed £7 million. Proof of design boards, research and sourcing materials and prices was provided as evidence however it was rejected without explanation.

The solicitor, Whyatt, and his client, Keith Algie of RSM UK Group LLP, seemed hellbent on destroying my client’s business. Together they were relentless in their claim to recover the first payment of my design fee (£32,500), claiming it was a deposit and no work had been carried out. Despite supporting evidence confirmed that was not the case, they ignored this and continued to pursue me tirelessly for the repayment across a total of three years, finally ordering me to give financial evidence in court, which I did this year.

Why would I give someone my money purely because they demanded and put pressure on me over a long period of time to do so? That’s bully tactics, which I absolutely despise. I had earned my fee and proved it, so was not going to back down. When it became clear to me that they would not stop, I instructed law firm Mischon de Reya. After three years of unrelenting pursuance generating almost £150,000 in legal fees and other costs to me and £100,000 in fees for RSM, they lost their case and I was awarded over £100,000 costs.

In the vindictive pursuit of £32,500 the tables were turned. Now Mathew Whyatt’s business, Alexander Whyatt LLP, is itself in administration, just weeks after the order was made.

The first payment of £35,000 has since been received from RSM Group via Algie, the claimant, complying with the court order and advising that his solicitor had since gone into administration.

I will never walk away from a bully. When things don’t make sense to me in finance and compliance there’s usually a reason more complex than the surface suggests. Sometimes it takes years to conclude as in this case but over many years in the past, I have won several successful cases where I have challenged a bully or a conglomerate.

It is my right and my duty to stand up for my profession and for myself. I could not walk away from an injustice, regardless of personal or financial risk.

If you find yourself in a legal dispute, especially when it comes to being challenged for your work. My advice would be to stand your ground if you know you are in the right. You can buy insurance to cover legal costs, you can use mediation and you can lean on the SBID for support on legal direction and introduction without prejudice. Designers are often caught up in the issue of non-payment; largely due to the misunderstanding of the role of an interior designer on a project; and in some cases it can destroy a designer’s business. When you are paid to provide a service and fulfil the brief, regardless of gender, age or industry, you deserve to be paid.

Written by Dr Vanessa Brady OBE

Award-winning Interior Designer, CEO & Founder of the Society of British and International Design

On Tuesday 11th March saw the return of the Interiors Design Summit, an invitation only event where architects, interior designers as well as other industry professions come together for a day of meeting suppliers who are seeking new solutions as well as attend the series of CPD talks.

This year the opening keynote speaker was SBID President, Vanessa Brady.

Following Vanessa were two CPD talks given by SBID partner members, Karen Haller and Johnny Grey.

Here is an overview of each of their talks.

Colour: More than just Mere Decoration

Karen Haller

The science of colour psychology, not be confused with colour symbolism or colour association, identifies and strategically applies the role of colour to influence mood, behaviour and positive interaction. Our reaction is largely unconscious; however colour is the first thing people notice whether that is a product or an interior.

My CPD talk focused on business and publically accessed spaces and how, by harnessing the power of colour, it can become a powerful sales tool in the customer facing area and a powerful tool to support a productive happy, more motivated work force.

Colour is a very powerful phenomenon that is used to influence us every day of our lives. It influences our behaviour and feelings, making us move more quickly, feel more relaxed, eat more and spend more.

As human beings it’s in our nature to feel and respond to harmony and balance. Colours are not seen in isolation. So when we experience overwhelming, clashing or jarring colour schemes, particularly over time, it causes stress, dis-comfort and dis-ease and all of the business implications related to those issues.

A workplace overwhelmed with colour can be as detrimental as one lacking in colour. It’s not about using colour for colours sake, as mere decoration or an afterthought. It’s about using the right combination of tones with purpose and intent. After all, supported and healthy staff equals profitable business.

Such a vast subject and like Johnny I ran out of time for questions. For more information you can contact me at [email protected] and you can read Vanessa’s review of my chapter Colour in Interiors from the leading industry book Colour design: Theories and applications in the Society Journal Volume 2 | Issue 3 | 2013

This was my second year speaking at the Interior Design Summit as part of their CPD programme.  It was great to see this event well attended and once again the most delicious lunch feast with the buzz of networking and connections being made.

©Karen Haller 2014

The Long Kitchen at the Interior Design Summit

Johnny Grey

Blum sponsored me to talk about my Long Kitchen concept at the Interior Design Summit on March 11 – a chance to air new ideas about creating kitchens with the emotional durability to last for upwards of 30 years.

Perhaps as a result of the financial crisis there is growing interest in multi-generational living. Newcastle University’s Changing Age Initiative is developing a programme to help the kitchen industry develop new products for an aging population, and I coined the phrase the ‘Long Kitchen’ to incorporate research into designs for kitchens to suit both older people with certain kinds of physical impairment (without making the spaces look like institutionalised kitchens for the disabled) and at the same time allow use by families with children.

Design solutions for this include flexible free-standing furniture, dedicated work surfaces, different-height worktops that encourage sociability, soft geometry for easy circulation, freestanding appliances for easy replacement and lots of places to perch. Older citizens like to sit whilst they prepare food.

Sadly, I ran out of time with my talk and was unable to take questions.  If anyone would like to discuss a project along these lines here or abroad, please contact my studio on 01730 821042. For further information on the upcoming kitchen design course at Bucks New University, contact Julie Catlow on 01494 603153.

A part of the CPD programme, this event attracted excellent participants and offered a well laid-out networking lunch. My preserved beetroot salmon was great and the puddings were super-stylish!

If you would like to use any content in this blog post please seek permission of the originating author.

The Audio Lounge Showroom was filled with designers and architects wanting to know more about IP Law or get further clarity on their creative rights at this important and informative SBID accredited CPD event.

IP or “Intellectual Property” right is a legal protection offered to protect the “creative ideas” of an artist, musicians, writers, designer, filmmakers or manufacturer so that no third party can use that idea.
Chris Mc Leod from Squire Sanders UK LLP and first vice president of ITMA led the talk on the various methods by which our creative ideas and designs (intellectual property) are protected and the levels of protection offered by each.

SBID President Vanessa Brady, DJ Mike Reed and Mrs. Cynthia Wilkinson from “Mark Wilkinson” design supported his talk by giving
examples of events where infringement of their design ideas occurred and how they tackled them.
Mrs. Cynthia Wilkinson told us that by taking action against people who copied their designs sent a strong message to deter others from doing the same. This allowed them to secure the exclusivity of their design in order to keep its authenticity and thus create a profitable business.

Chris highlights that essentially there are UK registered designs; unregistered designs, copyrights, and EU design laws (also known as community registered design), which protect the works of allcreative people.
He also briefly mentions trademark, which protects a business brand in the form of words, letters, logos, pictures, packaging, sound and smell.

Carrying out the appropriate searches before registering a name, as a trademark will ensure that you are not infringing third party right. Copyright and Unregistered design rights are automatic rights that protect specific aspects of the designs. However in times of infringement it is usually difficult to prove the date when the design came into existence, and also if the third party produces a similar design without actually copying your design then there is no infringement.

Registered Design give a well­‐defined protection for your design as compared to unregistered design or copy right. Once your design has been proved to be “novel” having “individual character” and has not been published then the UK design registry will register your design and offer protection for that design for 25 years. However there is a grace period of one year given following publication of the design by the designer.

Community Registered Design offers clearly defined and strong protection through out the UK and European Union.
The advantage of this route is that you can register several designs in one application and you can keep the designs undisclosed for up
to 30months after filing to stop your competitors form learning of it.
“The fees for community registered design are reasonable and compare favorably with the over all cost of national registration in all EU countries.”
Another advantage for a community registration is that as the European Union grows geographically then the community registered design protection will be even greater.

This brief article highlights in a simplified way some of the important aspects of IP laws and you should seek professional advise before registering your designs. I would in future register my designs because in the long run it would give my brand exclusivity and it would save me a lot of money in legal costs since there will be strong evidence supporting my designs if an infringement occurred.

Author: Interior designer and SBID member Sangeeta Goyal.

The latest Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event to be held by The Society of British and International Design in partnership with SBID  Partner Swedecor, explored an interesting subject; one that has no doubt been relevant, at some stage, during the careers of most Interior Designers and Architects. The event explored the benefits and challenges associated with running a multi-disciplinary practice, along with a look at where the roles of Architects, Decorators and Designers begin and end.

A packed crowd of SBID organisers and members gathered in the Saint Gobain Innovation Centre, a suitably chosen site dedicated to showcasing and promoting sustainable materials for the design and construction industries.

On the agenda were interesting talks from both Interior Designers and Architects, sharing some varying perspectives on the subject. First to open the discussion was Caroline Smith, Creative Director of Wish London Design. Caroline outlined the way the role of the Interior Designer has changed over the past few decades and how this has had a subsequent impact on the blurred boundaries between Designers and Architects today. She discussed the factors that have contributed to the growing success of Wish as an interior design practice, including the need to be commercially aware – knowing what elements to prioritise budget on to achieve the greatest project success. A relevant point she raised was the importance of a mutual respect between the Interior Designer and the Architect – each party being aware of their respective roles and responsibilities, to ensure both a professional and collaborative approach to a project. 

Penny Allen, Director of Penelope Allen Design, was second speaker of the evening who showcased one of their recent residential projects, winner of the SBID International Design Awards 2013. Her interior design practice, established in 2009, has seen a flourishing success over the year, partly due to Penny’s PR focus and her knack for networking. An interesting benefit she outlined of working with Architects was the exposure to a broader spectrum of clients and subsequently maximising income. Key challenges she raised were keeping abreast of legal responsibilities and ensuring sound knowledge of Health & Safety as the Interior Designer.

A common message that was emphasised by both Penny and Caroline was the importance of the early involvement of Interior Designers on a project. It’s all too common for assumptions to be made, whether from the client, that the Interior Designer need only be involved during the final, finishing stages of a project, or from the Architect, that there is perhaps no Interior Designer getting involved at all.

This in turn opened up a number of other important considerations to the discussion – educating the client on the specific role of the Interior Designer is crucial; ensuring they understand that the breadth of duties goes far beyond the finishing textiles and a lick of paint on the walls.

Communication, perhaps the most crucial element, is required on all levels between Client, Architect and Interior Designer throughout the entire project process. Vanessa Brady, Founder of SBID and Chair of the evening, provided additional context to these points, outlining the overall challenge of interior design being recognised as a credible industry.

Since the battle exists for governing bodies to recognise the difference between Decorators and Designers and to see the importance of the latter, it’s perhaps no wonder the challenge exists for Clients to understand this as well.

Third to share their views for the evening was Graham Harris, Managing Director of SHH Architects. SHH, an esteemed, full-service interior design and architecture firm, has been well established in the industry for over two decades. With a very approachable presence to the audience, Graham discussed the egoistic attitude often felt by many Architects towards Interior Designers and how SHH have developed a clear and respectful line between the two – “Architect: space, place, light. Interior design: colour, human scale, tactility”.

A valid benefit he outlined of working collaboratively was the commercial aspect, providing the client with a single cost upfront for both elements of the project, ensuring cost efficiency and transparency of financials, in turn, crucial to building solid relationships with the client and all parties.

As I sipped my wine, explored the centre and chatted with those in attendance, I grasped how much food for thought the evening and its discussions had provided me, a handful of ‘watch-outs’ when approached by a client on the overall collaboration process, the increased sense of determination I felt for raising awareness of interior design and all it entails, along with the desire for a potential Designer/Architect relationship to grow as organically and respectfully as it should.  

Author: Shanna Rogan, emerging Interior Designer and founder of interior-imagination

To see more pictures from the event, please visit our Facebook page here.

Photos provided by Rosangela Photography

With the New Year upon us, The Society of British and International Design have given us another exciting and inspiring opportunity to network and learn at 2014’s first Continuing Professional Development networking event. This month’s agenda was lighting design, an evening filled with talks from both commercial and residential industry experts, along with a panel discussion on the increasing use of LED lighting in design.

A handful of SBID members and guests filled the impressive Roca London Gallery, a highly stimulating, curvaceous space designed around the themes of water and fluidity, from the eponymous Zaha Hadid Architects.

First to present was Calvin Caunter of Vision Accendo, commercial LED lighting specialists. Calvin emphasised the numerous benefits of LEDs vs. incandescent lighting, including their energy efficiency, their longer life cycles and low maintenance properties, as well as the long term financial advantages.

Click here to see more photos from the CPD event

Lucy Martin, Design Director at the award-winning John Cullen lighting, delivered an engaging presentation on the fundamental importance of lighting in residential spaces. She touched on the emotive and behavioural impact that lighting has on us, along with the visual control that lighting grants us – enabling us to create focal points around our architectural features, to make smaller spaces appear larger and to make large spaces more manageable. The consideration of surfaces and finishes was also discussed; the way these elements will affect the colour of the lighting and therefore the overall mood of the space. Lucy’s persuasive approach during the talk allowed her genuine passion for lighting to resonate and the overall importance she places on educating people into truly understanding the impact of good lighting design.

The third and final speaker for the evening was Kevin Grant of Buro Happold Lighting. With a portfolio of large-scale commercial lighting projects in London, LA and Saudi Arabia to name a few, Kevin provided us with an interesting and impressive overview of the company and their approach to challenges associated with lighting. With spaces in which natural lighting is required but limited, Kevin discussed their use of sun blocking, a technique to channel natural sunlight into a space through tubes which reflect and refract the light, whilst at the same time blocking out the sun’s negative UV affects.

Click here to see more pics

The inspiring talks were followed by a Q&A session. An opportunity for Vanessa Brady, President of SBID, along with audience members, to pose questions to the speakers and to challenge some of the points raised. Issues such as the quality of LED manufacturing in many parts of Asia vs. Europe were debated; how to compete with a thriving market elsewhere in the world. The consideration of obsolescence in LED lighting products from design to implementation was another point of interest discussed.

With the overall thought for the evening, ‘LED is the future’, I was no doubt more convinced of this conclusion by the end of the event. With the lights dimming, I left the curvaceous tunnels of the gallery inspired by the wealth of knowledge I’d accumulated on the subject and the invaluable conversations I’d had with others in attendance.

Author: Shanna Rogan, emerging Interior Designer and founder of interior-imagination
Photos provided by Marek Sikora Photography

The Government’s consultation on copyright, addressed the regulatory impact and costs to business of the proposals to impose statutory codes on collective licensing societies, and to introduce new exceptions.

The initial assessments will be reviewed in the light of evidence collected during the consultation process. SBID participated in this process and is pro-active in the Government’s continuing research programme. The consultation published in December 2011 was accompanied by a set of initial impact assessments; the public outcome to date is available from the Intellectual Property Office website.

Great British companies such as British Airways, Shell, Unilever, the Co-op, Tesco, and Balfour Beatty have been investigated over several years for alleged price fixing, fined nearly a quarter of a billion pounds by the OFT, only for each case to collapse because there was no basis in fact, law or economics to support them. The net result is a huge bill for the taxpayer to pay the legal fees. There are 600 employees at the OFT costing us £60 million per annum, let alone compensation to the companies that have been improperly charged so a review is very much needed.

Last year, the Government consulted on proposals to reform the competition regime including merging the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission to create a single Competition and Markets Authority. Among other things, the consultation sought views on proposals to improve the enforcement of the anti-trust prohibitions. The Government will announce their conclusions following the consultation shortly.

One reason why the review looked at merging the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission is to make sure that they are right and fit for purpose for our times and that there are the right resources needed for the world that we live in today. There is no doubt about it that the Office of Fair Trading has had a wonderful reputation in the past, and we would like to think that the new merger, if it goes forward, will take forward the very best of the OFT and the very best of the Competition Commission.

The Government’s aims is to build on the best of the OFT and the best of the Competition Commission in the creation of a world-leading Competition and Markets Authority. The Government recognise that the system for the enforcement of the anti-trust prohibitions is not working as well as it should. Cases take too long and a strong challenge to decisions is often mounted on appeal. It is worth remembering that Britain has a reputation in the world as being one of the best places in which markets work. They are open and fair. We have to make sure that we have timely and effective enforcement. That is what the consultation has been about.

The government Ministry for Fair Trade agrees that whatever reorganisation of the competition authorities is to take place in the future, adequate resources must be made available to ensure that there is effective combating of price-fixing cartels and other anti-competitive practices. The record shows that, on the matter of liability as distinct from the precise amount of penalty, the OFT has been upset on appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal only relatively rarely. It has admittedly been told by the Competition Appeal Tribunal that the amount of penalty is sometimes too large and has been reduced. Last year, and I think the year before, the OFT brought in some £60 million to the Exchequer from fines. Fines that had been upheld by the Competition Appeal Tribunal! SBID has been actively involved in the programme to review and reform faults in the current system of interior design and propose methods for improvement over the past three years. The SBID report has been submitted.

The Office of Fair Trading is of course an independent body and is best placed to balance the work that it does; it is not the Government’s place to tell it what to do. However, it is almost impossible for the ordinary consumer trying to deal with the combination of the OFT, Consumer Focus, Consumer Direct, the CBA and the Competition Commission to know where to go when there is an issue and this requires further clarity.

With the restructuring coming, the department must decide where change will take place. It will shortly put some real clarity on its website to direct people under the current structure and with some clear indication where restructuring is going to take us.

The Government will reveal their conclusion in the next few weeks after the finalisation of the consultation…… watch here!

Vanessa Brady comments on SBID’s latest campaign, the Fair Trading Policy in Interior Design. © Copyright SBID wp-content/2012

Trade discount is for trade, not retail, and mixing the two is unfair to all parties. The SBID Fair Trading Policy does not recommend, support or promote passing on trade discounts to the public.

Historically some interior decorators and designers passed on their trade price to potential clients to obtain work. That is desperation, not a design commission. Such designers and decorators cause mass damage to the overall industry: they undermine the retailers’ position and they betray the supplier’s price structuring integrity. In doing so, they create grey billing procedures where the customer is unable to breakdown an invoice costs and assumes inflated pricing, leading to disputes. In addition, a lack of transparency on fees, discounts and project fee structuring has often prevented potential clients from seeking professional design advice at all.

The common practice of designers passing trade discounts to their customers, i.e. the public, shrinks the development of interior design as a profession and ultimately costs each market sector profit and reputation. It is not surprising that those who trade in this practice are the largest sector in administration and bankruptcy. They are also the most boisterous when policies such as the SBID Fair Trading Policy are introduced. 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.

Practitioners who provide a design service free of charge undermine the overall design industry. It is neither appropriate nor financially sustainable for professionals to provide their key performance, their design 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.

Retail prices include the cost of stock and customer service. Trade prices are products supplied on business to business (B2B) terms by manufacturers, or professional industry partners (PIPs). Interior design has until now rarely respected the difference. Currently, two common unprofessional billing methods adopted by designers are:
1. Sharing trade prices as leverage to obtain projects;
2. Providing a free design service, creating income from ‘supplying goods’ only.

All too often a designer’s unrealistic recognition of project costs and random product supply between trade and retail-pricing generates customer complaints. This common practice is therefore a threat to the overall reputation and growth of the profession of design.

Other grey areas of passing on trade prices to one-time-purchasers make it impossible for retailers to compete fairly. Supplying goods has additional costs attached for different performances: retailers absorb costs such as showroom space, staffing, after-sales service and product training etc. which designers do not provide.

There is a clear additional cost in every sale a retailer makes when compared to the service provided by a designer. Designers may need to install, take delivery, organise returns of products, and so on, and this clearly has time (and cost) attached. Therefore the fee a designer earns in a trade price reflects some of the services the designer performs.

Under the SBID Fair Trading Policy, a clear charging system sets out procedures for other services such as sourcing and supplying products. SBID design professionals are encouraged to be transparent about rates for hourly, daily and project billing fees in their terms of engagement.

The policy supports SBID Designers and PIPs* and provides a fair, equitable industry plan for growth. Registered SBID international industry body members are supported by the policy to promote qualified services, however the policy does not advise, direct or propose what a fee rate should be.
*PIPs – Professional Industry Partner

About SBID

– SBID was formed in March 2009 meeting the European Councils entry criteria for Interior Designers and Architects and was inducted into the European Council of Interior Architects (ECIA) in September 2009.

– Until 2009, Britain remained unqualified to meet the eighteen year old EU standards in interior design

– The sixteen page Intellectual Property owned document* formed the basis of the registration of SBID under British Law and part of the terms of membership of the European Council of Interior Architects (ECIA)

– Andrew Rolfe is one of Britain’s leading (top 100) contract lawyers, a member of the SBID Advisory Board and partner of Clifford Chance law firm.
*The sixteen page business prospectus is the intellectual property and copyright of Vanessa         Brady and Andrew Rolfe; its joint creators. It may not be reproduced without written authority from its joint creators.

– The SBID Fair Trading Policy is part of a joined up business plan that creates the bases of a design professional through education, practice and control with the aim of protecting the consumer and improving the professional image and performance of design professionals.- SBID is a Professional body raising, promoting and setting standards to create opportunities for design professionals to trade pan-industry providing design advice products and support services. The SBID Fair Trading Policy supports and builds on the relationship between these market sectors to create a clear route to market for the professional sector of design. The outcome will be a joined-up industry.

With a new year comes new resolutions and observations. Vanessa Brady, SBID President, gives us her guide to the British Design Industry…

“Britain is a funny place.  It is admired worldwide for innovation and great design, and revered as the land of great ideas and inventors. We just have to take a short trip abroad to see the unequalled level of respect which our design industry commands. Of course, being British, we don’t believe in such opinions of each other, rather having a tendency to damage success, especially if it is recognised in our peers. I have always admired the American philosophy to credit good results. These damaging British rivalries must stop for the betterment of the profession.

In 2012 SBID aims to stamp out this negative elbow positioning and propaganda spreading.  It is bad practice and, if challenged, also breaches legislation. We have collated evidence of anti-competition by a group of third parties over a lengthened period within the broad design industry. Those involved have collectively aimed to create a barrier of entry for SBID to trade freely, in breach of the Anti-Competition Act 1998, the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Office of Fair Trading regulator.

So this year we start with a clean slate, with a busy events calendar and an ever-growing membership of key industry leaders. SBID announces the International Interior Design Awards wp-content/2012, split into Residential and Contract sectors and hosted at two destinations in Italy; Macef (Milan) in September and SIA Guest (Rimini) in November. If last year’s entries are any guide, as is the profile of the judges we secured – including Professor Jimmy Choo OBE, – this year will be even better.

Being a British organisation with numerous international members, we realize that the most important aspect of British design is trust. When people see ‘Made in Britain’ emblazoned on a product, they are instantly reassured that the product has been critically assessed in every detail, analysed by numerous bodies and regulators for performance and longevity, and tested for safety and the validity of manufacturers’ claims. All these steps are necessary in order to produce evidence before a product receives certification.

If a product claims a ten year performance guarantee, it must first pass stringent durability, performance and safety tests. Testing is performed by our collaborating partner the British Standards Institute (BSI), amongst other organisations. Product designers for manufacturers understand interior design and interior decorating. They have to: the rigorous testing process is expensive and time-consuming, and many products don’t pass. In bathroom safety for example, water flow pressures for taps are graded; this measurement, among other factors, prevents flooding in multi-occupied buildings for water flow rates etc., and anti-slip tile surfaces prevent accidents when surfaces are wet.

Suitability of performance environments such as bathrooms, swimming pools or shopping centres carry different risks and are graded for their purpose. These criteria affect all products i.e. fabric and plastic coatings for fire safety, rub rating for wearability of upholstery in contract use, the location of carpet within a building for wearability.

These British design standards are not acknowledged or promoted sufficiently by designers to their clients. When products are correctly specified and installed, a designer has delivered a professional project. British design is built on trained designers and performance-tested products by quality brands. Great design is represented by educated designers (recognised through an accredited third party system, the SBID being only British destination with a standard which meets the European Council standard for practitioners) and reliable quality in products. Standards are credible performance indicators unrecognised as added value by designers, although they are in fact the cornerstone of an interior designer’s brief. Designers sell ideas and advice.

We are no longer in business just in the UK; as a member of the European Union, we must trade with equal opportunity and legislation with our European counterparts.  However we are of course still British, and we must not lose sight of the fact that our best selling assets are British quality, trust in performance and reliability in Europe and beyond.”

Britain was represented at the European Council of Interior Architects (ECIA) by the official representative, The Society of British Interior Design (SBID), among sixteen other member countries at this year’s annual meeting. Each member country shares an interest to promote standards through a unilateral agreement on education requirements, competence skills and the EU code of conduct.

This year, the ECIA’s Annual General Meeting was held in Valencia on Saturday 24 September. Frazer McDonald Hay, Chair of SBID’s Education Panel, attended with SBID President Vanessa Brady, and gave a presentation about his activities and experiences after being appointed as representative for the ECIA Educational Recognition Program. Frazer will serve as the liaison between educational institutions and ECIA.

The French National Association had unfortunately reported bankruptcy and was represented in observer status only. An application was received by a French Federation and will be considered for membership in wp-content/2012. Malta has now met the ECIA standard and their application to become an ECIA member was approved; Malta will be represented and inducted into the European Council at Brussels in wp-content/2012 among all other member country organisations.

The annual general meeting was represented by the President of the leading organisations of each of the 16 member countries in Europe and was chaired by the ECIA President Joke van Hengstum. The outgoing Secretary General Gerrit Schilder said goodbye after his official six year term (constitutionally this is the time limit on holding a position). Germany proposed Elke Kaiser, member of the German national organisation BDIA, as the successor Secretary General and the vote was passed.

Next year the European Council will celebrate its twentieth year and the AGM will be held in Brussels where its headquarters are registered.

During the constitutional six year term of her post as Founding President of SBID, Vanessa Brady  also put forward Britain as a hosting country for 2014 before her departure as President of SBID in 2015. In 2013 the AGM will be hosted in Amsterdam.


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