New accreditation scheme for Singapore interior designers will benefit consumers

Mr Fann Zhi Jie, deputy chairman of the Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Council, speaking at the launch of the scheme.
Mr Fann Zhi Jie, deputy chairman of the Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Council, speaking at the launch of the scheme.ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - Interior designers in Singapore will soon be better recognised and receive upskilling opportunities under a new accreditation scheme.

There will be three categories of interior designers based on qualifications and work experience under the Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Scheme, which was launched by the Society of Interior Designers, Singapore on Friday (Nov 19).

Existing practitioners who lack qualifications will also be able to apply for accreditation, based on an assessment of their work experience.

Interior designers such as Mr Vinc Loh, 43, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, welcomed the scheme.

"The accreditation will give me the recognition that helps me stand out from others who may not be trained. This will allow me to command a higher fee for my services as well," he said.

Mr Loh, who started out without academic qualifications in interior design, obtained a diploma in the field from Singapore Polytechnic through part-time studies.

Consumers, too, can expect to benefit from the scheme, as they will be more assured of the interior designers' credibility with official certification of their academic qualifications and work experience under the new scheme.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, the guest of honour at the launch, said that with a proper accreditation system in place, potential clients can be better assured of the quality and expertise of qualified interior designers.

"This will help remove or reduce incidences of dodgy practices and unqualified individuals or companies who bring disrepute to the interior design sector with their poor standards and bad service. Accredited... practitioners will be set apart and recognised by this trust mark," she added.

Last year, there were 745 complaints lodged with the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) against design firms and renovation contractors.

And in the first half of this year, the association received more than 600 consumer complaints against renovation contractors and interior designers, Case president Melvin Yong said in a Facebook post on Friday. Many of these complaints pertain to poor workmanship or delays in renovation works.

The scheme "will help consumers differentiate professional interior design firms from untrained ones, so that consumers can make better informed decisions when choosing an interior design firm for their home renovation", he added.

Under the scheme, those with a degree in interior design or interior architecture and have 24 months of working experience will be classified under Class One.

Applicants for Class One will be required to take an examination.

Those with a work-study or specialist diploma in interior design and interior architecture with 18 months of working experience will be under Class Two.

Class Three will be for interior designers with a Nitec in spatial design and 12 months of working experience.

Interior design undergraduates with no prior work experience can clock up the required hours in their professional practice course.

The baseline competency for interior designers will be set against the SkillsFuture Skills Framework for Design, which lays out the basics that a person needs in the field, such as job-specific knowledge and skills.

The scheme will be launched in three phases.

The first phase is for established interior designers and will run until May 2022.

This phase will be assessment-based, where work experience can be considered in lieu of academic qualifications.

Those who graduated recently with interior design qualifications can sign up for accreditation from June 2022 to May 2023, while those about to graduate can register from June 2023 onwards.