An Interior Designer’s role is to provide accurate advice for the optimal safe occupation of those who work, live and relax within an interior space. Operating across a variety of sectors from public space, retail and restaurant to hotels and residential developments, a professionally designed interior should comply with all building, health & safety and product regulations to provide improvements to the interiors domestic or commercial purpose. As that advice can directly impact on the 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.
An Interior Designer is not only an advisor to the client, but also to the contractor and tradesmen in their procurement of product layouts, plans and installation of materials chosen for the design scheme. A designer must therefore possess knowledge of a multitude of skills. These skills include a strong grasp of mathematics and numbers for measuring, calculating dimensions, budgeting and financial control. This is regarded by SBID as ‘basic knowledge’ and is a requirement of SBID Accreditation.
A professional designer’s minimum task is to define the space and safety performance of the interior, as well as producing plans to demonstrate proposed layouts for clients to review before agreeing to the design. This is the scheme. The designer should also include schedules of the materials required to procure the design scheme. When the scheme is approved by the client, the designer will commence specification schedules.
This multi-faceted profession is not simply a flair as many assume, but requires practical training and years of experience. Being the first professional interior design organisation in the UK to recognise education by degree as a condition of membership, SBID promoted the skills that a designer must possess and provided the tools to assist those who needed assistance to strengthen their skillset. To find out more about current membership requirements, click here.
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.
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.
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.
Interior Decorators are often featured in consumer magazines and online sources.
In many countries, the title Interior Designer refers to the skills and remit of what the UK describe as an Interior Decorator. The confusion relates to protection of title. In Europe an Interior Architect describes the same remit and skill of a British named Interior Designer. The title Architect is a protected title and therefore the UK may not use the recognised title to describe the skill and remit of an Interior Designer. The confusion for the greater public then expands as Europe describe an ‘Interior Designer’ with the skills of what the UK describe as a ‘Interior Decorator’. Around the world the description of skills are known by different names, unlike that of an Architect, Lawyer or Doctor.
SBID clarified the definition of an interior design professional and continues to work towards title recognition in the UK for an Interior Designer.
In the UK, anyone can describe themselves as an ‘interior designer’. Therefore for consumer protection, separation and distinction from the masses of hobbyists is paramount. This issue was addressed by qualification and accreditation by SBID for the first time in 2009. The status of SBID Accredited therefore denotes professional qualification and experience to work to SBID’s highest level of practice. SBID have gone further to identify and define 12 sector specialisms to help the public correctly select a designer trained for their task.
SBID set the standards for measurement of content within a university degree course to ensure content is fit for purpose. Working with the Department of Education and Minister of Universities, SBID created five modules for degree courses, making it a pioneering professional body endorsing the content of Interior Design courses provided at some UK Universities. In 2012, SBID were accredited by HESA for the benefit of students to guide them in their choice of university.
Students of any SBID Recognised course can apply for free Student membership. Following on from graduation, trainee designers can progress through the membership levels to the highest level of qualified recognition.
Independently qualified, an SBID Accredited Interior Designer is equipped to provide consumer protection for the public’s interest.
To be recognised at the highest level of competence within SBID Accreditation, a minimum of three years full-time learning, plus three and a half years’ work experience is required. SBID Accreditation also involves an annual commitment to acquire 24 hours of SBID Approved CPD. We encourage membership at all stages of a designer’s professional career, click here to find out more.
As of 2020/1 an entry exam will be required to become SBID Accredited if a designer does not meet SBID’s minimum level of education standards; the highest combined status of an Interior Designer qualification for practice within the UK.
Accreditation helps you or your Practice demonstrate a level of expertise to clients, separating qualified professionals from social influencers and hobbyists.
SBID supports its members in the promotion and protection of the global standing of British interior design.
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.
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