Interior design body to launch 3-grade framework to improve image and standards

The Ryokan Modern by Singapore design firm Upstairs, which won the Best Design Firm of the Year at the Singapore Interior Design Awards 2020. (PHOTO: Upstairs)
The Ryokan Modern by Singapore design firm Upstairs, which won the Best Design Firm of the Year at the Singapore Interior Design Awards 2020. (PHOTO: Upstairs)

SINGAPORE — For too long, Singapore’s interior design industry has had to deal with its “black sheep” – unprofessional work offered by contractors or renovators who do not have the requisite design skill sets.

“There are untrained or under-trained people out there who have given their clients the false impression of their training and experience, and have fallen short of what is expected of them as professional interior designers,” Keat Ong, president of the Society of Interior Designers Singapore (SIDS), told Yahoo News Singapore.

“So in the industry, the lines are blurred between a contractor and a designer, for example. And as the society gets more and more aware of good and advanced design, we see a demand for correctly-skilled designers with the right qualifications and experience.”

On Thursday (3 December), SIDS took a significant step in addressing this issue by launching an accreditation framework to differentiate practitioners based on qualifications, skill sets and track record.

This will provide consumers with a more transparent view of the industry, as they can recognise the properly-accredited designers who offer services that match their professional standards.

““We believe the accreditation system will provide a strong and clear foundation in which the industry can build on. It provides clarity, while at the same time encourages designers to up-skill and continue their learning journey,” Ong said.

Three categories, based on qualifications and experience

The proposed accreditation framework will see interior designers in Singapore divided into three categories.

The recommended pre-requisite for an Interior Designer Grade 1 is that the person must have a degree in interior design or interior architecture and at least two years of experience.

On the other hand, the recommended pre-requisite for an Interior Designer Grade 3 is for the designer to have at least a NITEC/Higher NITEC certification in interior styling or interior design and at least a year’s working experience.

The framework is set to be rolled out next year, in either the second or third quarter, as SIDS seeks the buying-in of the relevant stakeholders in the industry – the companies, practitioners, statutory boards and design schools.

Indranee Rajah, the Second Minister for Finance and National Development, endorsed the setting up of this accreditation framework, during the Singapore Interior Design Awards (SIDA) ceremony at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Thursday.

“With the support of the Board of Architects and the industry at large, SIDS will launch Singapore’s Interior Design Accreditation Programme by 2021,” she said.

“This will be a significant milestone in the transformation journey to enable the accredited design professionals to collaborate and build stronger trust with the clients.”

Record number of entries at SIDA

A total of 66 winners walked away with honours at the SIDA, which attracted a record 602 entries from firms and individuals from all over the world.

Singapore design firm Upstairs picked up the Best Design Firm of The Year award. Some of its works this year include a house formed with 100-year-old bricks, a three-storey penthouse apartment defined by layers of timber lattices, and an aesthetic clinic re-imagined as experimental layers of light with branding agency The Elementary Co.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Phillips Connor, who is behind iconic Singapore spaces such as Zouk and Marina Bay Sands.

Connor, who is on the advisory council for the SIDS accreditation framework, said the eventual impact of the framework cannot be undervalued.

“It is an important part of establishing professional ethics on a responsible measure of scale. That can only improve the quality of the product and service we provide for the public, as well as the quality of life for all,” he said.

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