A misunderstood profession

Decorating is just one facet of design
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
By Paola Gavilanez

When asked what interior designers do, the majority of the public will answer, “They have a flair for accessorizing, a good eye for colour,and knowledge of fabrics and aesthetics to make a room beautiful.” But this is what decorators do. Decorating is an important part of what some interior designers do but only a small part.

Interior design is a misunderstood profession. This perception can affect designers’ ability to practice.

How do designers get the public to better understand the complexity of their work?

One way is to belong to professional organizations. These allow designers to have a united voice, advocate for the right to practice and educate the public.

IDC (Interior Designers of Canada) is the national advocacy body and representative for the provincial associations. The organization is actively working towards the goal of ensuring every province has pro’fessional regulation for the public’s protection. This would mean that in order to practice as an interior designer, a person would have to be a registered/professional member of a provincial association.

So, what about B.C.?

Things are moving in the same direction. IDIBC (Interior Designers Institute of British Columbia) is the design profession’s provincial association and regulatory body. Its title act regulates the use of the title, registered interior designer (RID), and it will hopefully soon have a practice act. As part of its commitment to advance the profession and align it with the rest of Canada, IDIBC has announced changes to the minimum education requirements for provisional membership (which, in turn, will affect professional membership).

Currently, interior design diploma graduates from a program that aligns with requirements of route four to take the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam qualify for provisional membership. They must then successfully complete the exam within five years of admission to IDIBC. As of Jan. 1, 2015, graduates will be required to have a bachelor degree in interior design, at a minimum, to qualify for provisional membership. And as of Jan. 1, 2017, the minimum requirement will be a bachelor degree from a CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation) program. CIDA is an international organization that accredits post-secondary interior design education programs in the U.S. and Canada.

B.C. educational institutions have been working towards providing students with options to fulfill these requirements, should they wish to do so:

  • The Art Institute Vancouver has a new bachelor of applied design in interior design.
  • British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is preparing a proposal for a degree in interior design. Proposed start date is September 2013. This will allow students to continue on from the diploma program.
  • Vancouver Island University offers a bachelor of interior design and will apply for CIDA accreditation this year.
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University offers a CIDA-accredited bachelor of interior design.

Paola Gavilanez serves on the Interior Designers Institute of British Columbia’s board as vice-president of education. She is an instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s interior design program and does part-time pro bono design work. Paola can be reached at paola.gavilanez@kwantlen.ca.

3 thoughts on “A misunderstood profession

  1. Thank goodness this is being made clear to the public. It saddens me that a lot of people think that all interior designers do is decorate a home to make it pretty. I wish more people were aware of this.

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