As a Fully Qualified Interior Designer, I had to write this in response to assmonkey's opp. What many architects fail to realise is that due to no regulating body, anyone can call themselves an Interior Designer although they may have never studied the subject. Because of this, Interior designers are generally paid a lot less so it is an unspoken agreement that Interiors Designers can make most of their fee through the savings that is passed to them when purchasing goods for their clients. I agree that there are many bad and unqualified 'so called' Interior Designers who should not be allowed to work and who take full advantage of a position that they have little respect for. This not only tarnishes the industry but without a regulating body, this is inevitable. To say that Interior Designers are thieves, uneducated and incompetant is absolute rubbish and should only be used with regard to those who go into the industry untrained on a whim to make a quick buck. A real Interior Designer would have had proper formal training through college or university. I have a BA hons in Interior Design from Guildhall University aswell as a fellowship with the RSA. These were not just aquired over the phone, but took four years of study and hard work to achieve. Anyone thinking of taking on an interior designer for a project should look for both references of work and educational qualifications. This is very important. The basic rule is; do not call in an Interior designer for major structural work, that is the job of an Architect, hence their large fees, regulated industry and longer studying period. Interior Designers are for what their title say's, to design the interior. If they are competent then they will have the skill to create the ambience you require. The finished product should be comfortable, functional and ideally within the agreed budget, that should be discussed before any work commences. On a final note, not all Architec
ts get it right too, despite their 7 years of training which I have learnt through experience. Take a look at the London Gerkin with the windows that crack or the Millenium Bridge that swayed! Mistakes do happen on both sides. Seems that some Architects are just a little sour that they're not making money on all aspects of the design work. Best they get some extra training in Interior Design if they want to take on the decoration of the interiors aswell as the foundations. If not, then please, do us Qualified Interior Designers a favour and keep their narrow minded opinions to themselves. Enough said.
Buyer Beware! This isnt really about Laura Ashley but interior designers in general. Before you start off thinking that I dont know what I am talking about let me tell right off I am a fully licensed Architect! I have several years experience working in a corporate interiors firm. And I can tell you Beware! These interior designers, decorators or desicraters as I like to call them will do some spectacular jobs with picking colors, fabrics, patterns, furniture etc. But not only are the crazy and insensitive to your budget, they are also making alot more money off of you than you know! As a licensed architect it is illegal for me to accept "kick-backs" from vendors. That is I cannot by law accept payments from manufacturers, installers, etc. for recommending or using any of them. It is my legal and moral obligation to allow my clinet to know exactly what I am making for my services. Any "discount" offered to me should be disclosed to my client as it thier money to begin with. BUT...interior designers are not typically licensed by anything and therefore do not hold the same profesionaly responsibilities. They will make at least a 50% mark-up on most furniture and about 25% on carpet, wall paper, lighting fixtures etc. In the firm I worked in I watched us charge a client upwards of 15% the cost as a design fee and then make an additional 35% under the table from the material suppliers and installers. And you think you can ask for full disclosure of all bills, invoices etc. Ha...the vendors would just make up false bills to reflect the amount being charged. I am sure there are a few honest interiors people out there but that would be Very Very Very few. They are not regulated, audited or checked by anyone. And what is worse, they command a large portion of the design market. At least an Architect is licensed and has to have an education to be one. We perform overlapping services but we are not going to steal from
you. I have in the past shown my clients where I can get a huge discount on furniture if they buy it through me and suggested a 10% mark-up as an overhead fee and they seem to love my honesty and whats more they are still saving about 40% off of what it would cost them to buy it. Despite the being thieves part of interior designers the part that you should be warned about the most is incompetance. Like I have already said they do not have to even be educated to call themselves an interior designer. I personally was asked to layout a new office buildout for my own uncle. I laid out the office for him in a quick sketch and suggested a discounted fee of $5,000.00 for my services. Well the next day my own uncle talked to an interiors firm who said they could get twice as many offices as I had shown on my plan and they would only charge $3,000.00 for their services. Well my uncle was apoligetic when he explained to me that it was a business decesiion. I mean he was going to save $2,000.00 in the initial fee and was going to be able to have twice as many offices. I just smiled and said be careful you are dealing with crooks not profesionals. To make the long story short of course thier fee was going to be cheaper, they would have probably done it for free because they were going to make a killing on the sale of all the furniture and carpet, etc. And getting twice as many offices just meant they could sell that much more furniture. Well wouldnt you know it the day finally arrived after it was all finished for the final inspection. All the shiney new furniture was in place right down to the fake plants which I am sure my uncle was over charged for. As the inspector walked he began to make a long list of notes. It seemed that the offices were all too small to pass wheel chair access code ( what we call the ADA ) and the hallways were all too small for proper fire egress code. In fact there wasnt even the required second exit anywhere. Of course the bathroo
ms were too small, etc, etc. In the end my Uncle ended up having to rebuild the whole office suite and wouldn't you know it he ended up with the amount of offices which I had originally drawn up for him. Not to mention that when he went back to the interior designer for compensation and to return half of the furniture. The designer had no real legal obligation to him since he was not truly a profesional whom is bound by law to understand the code. No judge would find him liable for his screw-ups and he knew it. He did however take back the furniture but he had to charge a 25% restocking fee. In the end my uncle ended up spending twice as much as he had budgeted...but he did save that $2,000 up front. I am sure you are thinking how could I have let my uncle get ripped off like that. Well you dont know my uncle, he has millions and wouldnt help me out unless it was going to help him more. He has always been that way and I guess that is how he got his millions to begin with. And to this day he still hasnt learned. Just last year he bought a house and asked me to help him figure out how to renovate it. I spent one afternoon giving him some ideas and told him I would be glad to help him for my hourly fee less 50% as a family discount. The next week he had this really good looking interior designer at his house. A few months later and $350,000.00 dollars later he had a great looking house that I could have done for about $180,000.00 but hey it is his money. My best advice to you is to find an Architect. At least you will be getting someone who is legally required to disclose his entire profit with you not to mention if something gets screwed up you have someone you can take to court for compensation. Good Luck!