Choose a Designer

The IID represents professional Interior Architects, Interior Designers and Interior Decorators who have the required qualifications, training and experience.

Membership is also offered to Candidate Interior Architects, Interior Designers and Interior Decorators who have obtained the minimum qualifications from an accredited educational institution and are in the process of acquiring practical experience though employment within the field.

How to find an Interior Architect, Designer or Decorator?

The best way to find a designer is through personal reference or by searching on the IID website in your area.

What criteria are involved in appointing an Interior Architect, Designer or Decorator?

The ideal is to find a trained professional with expertise, creative flair, extensive knowledge of their own and associated industries, a network of proven suppliers and who is capable of completing the job on time and to budget. Always ask to see a portfolio of work that they have completed. All designers develop their own personal style, which is evident in their projects; however a good designer will ensure that your taste and personality are reflected in the end-result.

Questions to ask when interviewing prospective designers

Share your ideas with the designer and give them as much information about your requirements as possible, including your particular likes and dislikes, so that these can be incorporated into the design. Ask lots of questions to establish whether the designer is able to accurately interpret your brief. Thereafter trust the designer to use his/her experience, talent and vision to make it happen.

  • What is their fee structure?
  • Do they work with a contract?
  • Do they have a service level agreement?
  • Which geographical areas do they work in?
  • Do they work nationally and internationally?
  • What is their background and where did they train?
  • What current projects are they working on?
  • What projects are you able to view?
  • Ask for client references – Ensure that the designer has a good track record with their clients.
  • Do they personally oversee each project?

Interior Architect, Interior Designer, Interior Decorator – What’s the difference?

The terms “Interior Designer” and “Interior Decorator” are often used interchangeably, as if they are identical professions, but while both have the ability to create beautiful rooms and their roles often overlap, there are fundamental differences between them:

Interior Architect and Interior Designer

The professional interior architect / interior designer is a person qualified by education, experience and recognized skills, who:

  • identifies, researches and creatively solves problems pertaining to the function and quality of the interior environment; and
  • performs services relative to interior spaces including programming, design analysis, space planning, aesthetics and inspection of work on site using specialized knowledge of  interior construction, building systems and components, building regulations, equipment, materials and furnishings; and
  • prepares technical drawings and documents relative to the design of interior spaces, in order to enhance the quality of life and protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

As per South African legislation, the term Interior Architect may only be used by graduates from the Pretoria University who have obtained a minimum full time five-year degree in Interior Architecture.

Interior Decorator

The professional interior decorator is a person qualified by education, experience and recognized skills, who:

  • is primarily concerned with the functional and decorative planning of the interior of a structure; and
  • applies decorating principles to beautify a space by planning the layout of the area, taking the activities of the area into  consideration; and
  • styles the room by selecting and placing furniture, accessories and decorative finishes such as cushions, lampshades and window treatments.

Is a designer really necessary and can they save you money?

Some clients are frightened off by the perceived costs of using an Interior Designer or Decorator believing that they are outrageously expensive and are only intent on impressing their own style on your home / office. However, not using a designer can work out costlier in the long run, as well as time-consuming and stressful. Clients do not always have the time to explore the endless possibilities available to create their dream environments. Trying to choose from among the myriad of products offered in lifestyle stores and publications is confusing and overwhelming. The end result of a do-it-yourself job is often a dreadful mistake that is even more expensive to undo.

Using the services of a professional designer is therefore highly recommended. Every designer is unique and their charges vary according to their knowledge and experience so that you should be able to find a designer that meets your needs.

Always agree on the fee structure before work commences and be clear with your expectations.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

Establish a Budget A professional designer will help clients to find the best value and quality for their budget. They should consider all of the client’s ideas and find ways for them to achieve their goals, even if it means extending the job over a longer period or finding suitable alternatives to your suggestions.

Outline Contract Terms The contract should outline not only the legal terms but also the plans that you and your designer have discussed including budget, design fees, accountability for sub-contractors (painters, carpet installers etc). Read the contract carefully before signing it and before any work begins.

The fee structures can be broken down as follows:

Consultation Fee An initial consultation fee (which must include a follow-up consult) is usually charged at an hourly rate and is applicable until the client and the designer reach an agreement for the proposed work and sign a contract.

Design Fee An hourly design fee is charged for layout and perspective drawings. Costs are based on the time and effort required. These are time-consuming, so clarify the design fee upfront.

Project Management Fee This is levied for overseeing construction and site management of the project. The percentage charged will depend on the amount of time and expertise required.

Decorating Fee Most designers and decorators charge a decorating fee for their services, with different rates applicable for the design, drawings and consultation work done, once the agreement has been reached between the client and the designer. Travelling expenses are levied if the designer is required to work out of town or on international projects.

Payment of Fees These can be levied according to the various stages of the project. Usually a 50%- 70 % deposit is required and the balance is paid on invoice. This must be set before the project commences and will not include any fees for design or consultation which should be billed separately with the coordination fee.


Why use an IID Member?

To get advice and assistance from trained and highly skilled professionals with expertise in residential and commercial design that are able to create, implement and manage interiors of distinction. The Institute also offers clients the added assurance of access to impartial mediation in the unlikely event of a dispute arising between a client and a member.


Professional Members

Professional members are the most qualified and experienced members of the IID.

Candidate Members

Candidate members have obtained the minimum qualifications from an accredited educational institution and have been practicing in the industry for between 1 and 6 years.

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