Interior designer qualifications: 6 Key Sources

Interior designer qualifications can come from many different sources. We address the following in this article:

  • Education
  • Certification
  • Experience
  • Project Portfolio
  • Clientele References
  • Business Fidelity

Education
Stuttgart LibraryIt is certainly true that a degree program cannot make a good designer. However, if a designer is serious about their craft, they will have put themselves through the academic rigor of a program certified by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). The CIDA carefully vets programs to insure a standard of professionalism is maintained above and beyond what you would gain without completing a formal degree program.
Certification
In addition to a degree in Interior Design or equivalent program, the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) Exam is administered to working professionals with both educational and professional prerequisites. Qualified candidates are invited to sit through a series of exams similar in scope or difficulty to the CPA or PE exams. Once the candidate has passed, they may apply for state Certified Interior Designer status. This is a state license similar to that of a CPA or Professional Engineer. In Virginia, this credential is the Certified Interior Designer (CID) license. This license is one of the most weighty and difficult to achieve interior designer qualifications available.
Experience

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Every designer builds a portfolio which is unique to past client sectors and challenges. Often, due to the specialized nature of particular categories of work and living spaces (hospitality, retail, healthcare), a designer will specialize in a particular area of practice. That specialization is helpful where use-specific design criteria must be met. The learning curve is shorter, end result more refined, and project invoice a lot smaller. A project portfolio and clientele reference list is helpful in determining whether your interior designer is qualified for your particular project needs.
Project Portfolio
The interior designer’s portfolio showcases the most representative cases of past history and end product. The portfolio should be a collection of past experiences which serve to inform potential clientele on a designer’s capability and tendency. If you wish to achieve a particular aesthetic, scope, or detail, make sure to look for it in the portfolio. We’ve included our portfolio on our website. Whether it is a webpage, glossy brochure, or bound book, it should speak for itself.
Clientele References
Talking with friendsBecause interior design can be such a subjective and personal experience, the positive reference from a formal client can hold its worth in gold. Current and former clients can inform on the process and personality in addition to what you see in the portfolio. Making sure you know your own interior designer qualifications, based upon the honest feedback from friends, family, and neighbors can make sure you know who you are dealing with.
Fidelity
Every business must check some basic boxes: insurance coverage included. As a vital project member, an interior designer should also provide evidence that their business p’s and q’s are straight. Certain types of coverage are necessary, namely errors and omissions insurance as well as basic liability coverage. Should something in your project go sideways, make sure you have addressed risk factors at play during the design and construction phases.
Regardless of how you qualify your interior designer, it is extremely important to do so. In a self-fulfilling way, being able to fill qualification requests is a major indicator in itself. The residential interior designer is not prepared to submit experience with healthcare or vice versa. Spend some time deciding what you expect to qualify your interior designer and your project will be better off for it.

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