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.

Information supplied by IID South African Institute for Iterior Design Professions.