What is Interior Design?
Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. Designs are created in response to, and coordinated with, the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project, while adhering to code and regulatory requirements. Interior designers need to be educated in the history of design, structural integrity of buildings and building codes, ergonomics, spatial concepts, ethics, psychology, computer aided drawing, and much more. The ultimate responsibility of an interior designer is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their client and the public.
Interior Design services include, but are not limited to, any or all of the following tasks:
- Research and analysis of the client’s goals and requirements; and development of documents, drawings and diagrams that outline those needs.
- Formulation of preliminary space plans, and two and three dimensional design concept studies and sketches that integrate the client’s needs.
- Confirmation that preliminary space plans and design concepts are safe, functional, aesthetically appropriate, and meet all public health, safety and welfare requirements, including codes, accessibility, environmental, and, when applicable, sustainability guidelines.
- Selection of colors, materials and finishes to appropriately convey the design concept and to meet socio-psychological, functional, maintenance, lifecycle performance, environmental, and safety requirements.
- Selection and specification of furniture, fixtures, equipment and millwork, including layout drawings and detailed product description; and provision of contract documentation to facilitate pricing, procurement and installation of furniture and artwork.
- Preparation of construction documents, consisting of plans, elevations, details and specifications, to illustrate non-structural and/or non-seismic partition layouts; power and communications locations; reflected ceiling plans and lighting designs; materials and finishes; and furniture layouts.
- Preparation of construction documents to adhere to regional building and fire codes, municipal codes, and any other jurisdictional statutes, regulations and guidelines applicable to the interior space.
What is a Registered Interior Designer?
Registered interior designers possess both the education and experience required to solve design problems involving the built environment. A major focus of their education and experience is designing for the benefit of those who use the spaces they design. Besides providing environments that are beautiful, functional, and user friendly, the registered designer has the added responsibility to address the needs of both society and the natural environment. In addition to specialized education, typically four years, a prospective registered interior designer must serve an apprenticeship under a qualified mentor in the field that normally lasts a minimum of three years. The years as a trainee are spent further developing the designer’s ability to create solutions to problems in interior environments that contribute to the health safety and welfare of the inhabitants.
Once the designer has completed their education and has apprenticed under a qualified practicing professional he or she can apply to sit for an exam that tests their competency to practice responsibly and independently in the field. It is a 3-part standardized test administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) designed to assess competency to create interiors that are safe, healthy, and promote the welfare of both the public and the environment. It tests competency in fundamental and professional knowledge and skills; additionally the exam includes a full day practicum design project. This examination is presently administered in both the United States and Canada. Upon the successful completion of all three parts of the exam the candidate becomes an NCIDQ certificate holder and has earned the right to use the NCIDQ designation after their name.
After passing the NCIDQ exam the certificate holder may apply to be a Registered Interior Designer. Once approved by the Board he or she becomes a Registered Interior Designer, and may use the appellation RID after their last name. Once an interior designer has become licensed they are required to participate in approved continuing education units every year to remain current in the knowledge related to interiors and renew their licensure for the following year.
In summary, the registered interior designer has a specialized education, possesses qualified experience in design, and must pass the NCIDQ exam for professional competency. They must also maintain a current knowledge base by participating in required continuing education each year. Registered interior designers offer a service for public good and are qualified by education, experience, and examination in order to ensure the protection of the public.
Why hire a Registered Interior Designer?
Hiring a registered interior designer is a strong step in the direction of ensuring the quality of the design decisions and the positive impact the interior space will have on the occupants. Hiring a registered designer means hiring a professional who has successfully completed a rigorous education, applied that education in an apprenticeship experience, and completed an examination for professional competency. The person hired has agreed to continue their education in order to keep their knowledge and skills current. A Registered Interior Designer, who is registered and regulated, is accountable for their ethical approach to business and practice in the market place, their profession, and their design solutions for their clients. The Registered Interior Designer has earned credentials that qualify them to address aesthetics and discover the needs of the users of the spaces they design. However, beyond the beauty of an interior space, they are also trained to find the unique solutions that will best fit each design they create and to address the health, safety, and welfare of the end user.
When one hires a registered interior designer, they are assured of hiring an individual who has knowledge of interior materials and their properties, codes, sustainable practices, history of interiors, lighting, life safety, universal design principles and more. Moreover the registered designer has the skills to produce schematic space plans, design development documents, construction documents including specifications, finish schedules and working drawings that pertain to the design of interior spaces.
The decisions made about the design of an interiors project have an impact on the client for a long time. Whether it is an interior environment for healing, working, learning or living there are specific requirements, codes, standards, and theories that govern the appropriate design solutions for each. Designing a work environment that requires productivity and cost efficiency or one that encourages collaboration requires knowledge of the theories, research, codes and standards that surround the issues generated in the design of the work environment. Just as important is the application of universal design principles in a home environment, which may afford a client the ability to age in place instead of being uprooted late in life, leaving familiar surroundings that are very important to elder quality of life. Therefore a decision regarding whom to hire to analyze, evaluate, and oversee the execution of those design decisions on your behalf should be considered very carefully.
A registered interior designer is a person who has invested a considerable amount of time and made a significant effort to prepare themselves through education, experience, examination, registration, a commitment to continuing education, and a set of ethical standards. These combine to ensure the quality of their design service, the safety of the public, and the betterment of society.