SBID President Vanessa Brady OBE – It’s time we regulated design services

27 Aug 2015, by Vanessa Brady in Design, Uncategorised

Protection for the consumer

Vanessa Brady SBID PresidentIn a world where everything is measured for quality and performance it seems strange that while a hairdresser or manicurist both need to be licensed for consumer protection and every supplier of professional services throughout the supply chain of interior design is measured and regulated in some format that still in 2015 interior design including kitchen design (that specifically incorporates building regulations through utility supplies such as electricity, gas and water) still remains an unregulated option for anybody without training or experience to set up in business or supply a fee charging service without Government regulation, legal restriction, training or talent without facing penalty.

This position has to be wrong if we consider consumer protection and how a consumer contracts a professional service. The unknowing consumer should instruct a professional (loosely described here) with some degree of protection that the person described has had some form of training and has at least been tested for that knowledge by an independent industry body. This omission has to be addressed and it is indeed the core value and the basis on which SBID (the Society of British and International Design) was launched.

When interiors and kitchens collide

As open plan living becomes the norm for new-build residential property interior design has become part of the kitchen and the kitchen has become part of the main family living space. This is also often true of the bathroom whereby a bath is now often seen installed within a bedroom. This space without walls is increasingly adopted within the scheme for refurbishment programmes. Advice from a trained professional, measured and accredited by an industry specific watchdog with teeth to enforce penalty is in my opinion the only way in which interior design will continue to generate growth for the UK economy. This can only be created with the support from other countries. SBID has now acquired the partnerships of the most influential organisations of sectors that impact on bathrooms and kitchens, this is because I have always felt that this sector is important for budget values and generally requires the highest spend portion of a design budget.

Working with successive governments from the top down with the industry and international partners that compliment and dovetail with the ethos of this design thinking that is incorporated into the registration application document submitted to Government for the consent to register a organisation like SBID is what has filled the gap in the market that has separated SBID from the crowd. A UK registered interior designer charging for the service of providing professional advice is the ultimate goal and the only method that will provide consumers with the comfort and surety that the professional advice received will be compliant, accurate and timely received for the fee charged, complete with a route for compensation and penalty when a registered provider of service fails to meet the minimum standards.

This is a simple exercise not quite so simple to execute with relentless assaults and barriers created often from within the industry itself to prevent the success of regulated interior design in the UK.

The only benefit of monitoring such barriers and obstacles is to separate the proactive professionals from the players within the system who continue to drive quality down and give the industry (through consumer complaints and bad performance) a bad name.

This makes my blood boil. It is the very same self appointed hobbyists that (like all empty vessels) make the most noise while those that do quality and intelligent design to a high standard, do so simply and quietly get on with their job day after day. Frequently it is those very same quality people that are quietly improving the true value of exactly what good design means to Society at large.

A perfect example of Open-Plan design starts with the kitchen as it is one of the few areas incorporating the five senses; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch that is relevant to the knowledge of the whole interior design process when specifying products that might need to be specifically easy clean, low noise output, light output controllable, safety conscious surfaces or bacteria resilient etc. These senses identify exactly why food is best when shared with loved ones in celebration, chosen as the destination for a date and most of all …food makes us happy. It therefore follows that it is and should be one of the key areas of quality investment for interior design along with bathrooms where there are often several in a single dwelling.

Looking at the overall experience of why food is the growth area along with mobile phone shops in any town centre, it is clear to see exactly what it is that human beings like. It is to share time and pleasure with family and friends. People like the company of other people. Relaxing, living and eating in one informal space is the key to modern residential living. It just happens to incorporate what we always knew; that nothing beats sharing food with those we love, pottering in a kitchen has to be one of life’s great pleasures when you set time aside to enjoy it. Therefore, we should be driving the value on a human level, as well as a design level of why it is good to invest in a great kitchen for the home.

Vanessa Brady OBE
Aug 2015