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SIDS Takes Steps Toward Interior Design Accreditation by 2021

A roundtable chaired by SIDS in March built on the recommendations of a 2018 report for the DesignSingapore Council, and set out a framework for accreditation in Singapore.

SIDS Takes Steps Toward Interior Design Accreditation by 2021

Roundtable participants and observers

In 2017, the DesignSingapore Council’s (then) Executive Director Agnes Kwek initiated a study into how to work toward best practice for the interior design industry in Singapore. Information and growth consultancy Frost & Sullivan was commissioned to prepare the report, and called in the Society of Interior Designers, Singapore (SIDS) for guidance.

Explains Prof. Keat Ong, President of SIDS, “The final report was completed in October 2018 with one of the key emphases being ‘Accreditation of the Profession’. This is when the [accreditation] initiative was started, and the responsibility rested on SIDS’ shoulders.”

Throughout 2020, preparations will be made and critical industry stakeholders will be invited to help steer the interior design accreditation process. The official implementation of the program is slated for 2021.


SIDS interior design accreditation

Roundtable in progress, chaired by SIDS President Keat Ong & SIDS Accreditation Committee Chair Lai Yee Ling


Accreditation Roundtable

As part of the process of preparation, SIDS chaired the ‘Interior Designer Accreditation Roundtable 1’ at the National Design Centre on 20 March 2020.

Chaired by Prof. Ong and SIDS Accreditation Committee Chair Lai Yee Ling, the event involved industry representatives from the four sectors deemed crucial for proper steering of the process: government agencies, trade associations, schools and practitioners.


SIDS interior design accreditation

SIDS President Keat Ong addressing the roundtable with Lai Yee Ling


The participants were:

  1. Larry Ng (Registrar, Board of Architects)
  2. Rita Soh (President, Architects Regional Council Asia)
  3. Mark Wee (Executive Director, DesignSingapore Council)
  4. Cynthia Liau (Senior Manager, BuildSG Office, Building & Construction Authority)
  5. Mark Yong (President, Singapore Furniture Industries Council)
  6. Yvonne Soh (Executive Director, Singapore Green Building Council)
  7. Callistus Chong (Senior Director, School of Design & Media, Institute of Technical Education College)
  8. Veronica Yew Swee Meng (Program Leader, Interior & Exhibition, School of Art & Design, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts)
  9. Alan Ong (Deputy Manager, Nanyang Polytechnic)
  10. Colin Chew (Senior Lecturer, BCA Academy)
  11. Chow Kim Nam (Deputy Director, Singapore Polytechnic)
  12. Fann Zhi Jie (Course Chair, Diploma in Interior Design, Singapore Polytechnic)
  13. Franz Gonzales (Senior Lecturer, Raffles Design Institute Singapore)
  14. Arsh Chaudhry (CEO, Space Matrix Design Consultants Pte Ltd)
  15. Khairudin Saharom (Principal & Director, Kite Studio Architecture)
  16. Ng Hwee Li (Founder & Principal, Liid Studio Pte Ltd)
  17. Phillips M Connor (Design Leader, Independent Consultants)
  18. Low Chee Kiang (Co-Founder, 932 Design)
  19. Jacks Yeo (Deputy Executive Director, DesignSingapore Council)
  20. Daniel Pillai (Senior Assistant Director, DesignSingapore Council)

SIDS describes the roundtable as “a constructive three-hour session of strategic discussions and engagements between the participants and SIDS.”


SIDS interior design accreditation

DesignSingapore Council’s Executive Director Mark Yong commenting on the scheme


Generally, all the participants were supportive of the accreditation program, reports the society, with some of the key points shared by participants being that the accreditation program should provide a better and clearer career path for interior design students when they graduate; provide more structured progression tiers for the interior design fraternity; and provide consumers with better clarity on who they are engaging (interior architect, interior designer or interior decorator), which would come with different price points for consideration.


SIDS interior design accreditation

Kite Studio Architecture Principal, Khairudin Saharom, representing the practitioners on the benefits of implementing an accreditation system in Singapore


Why Accreditation Is Needed

SIDS regards interior design as one of the world’s most underrated professions, and as a profession that – in Singapore – lacks the clarity enjoyed by other built environment industry roles such as architect, engineer or quantity surveyor. SIDS also points to a sizeable number of untrained or under-trained people who give their clients the false impression that they have gone through the proper education and work experience, but fall short of what is expected of a professional interior designer.


SIDS interior design accreditation

Board of Architects Registrar Larry Ng commending on the points in the recommendations


“Two decades ago,” says SIDS, “the industry was discussing how to differentiate trained and untrained interior designers. However, with the rise in technology and information, all professions have to evolve with time and trends. Today, we need an accreditation system to be both exclusive and inclusive at the same time. The exclusivity calls to differentiate the trained from the untrained. With the increased complexity of today’s building design, as well as the innovations and disruptions that have arisen, the inclusivity is asking the industry to accept a wider range of interior design professions.”

Continues SIDS, “We need to be able to differentiate the interior architects, the interior designers and the interior stylists. Thus, SIDS has been working with the National University of Singapore to develop the Interior Architecture undergraduate course as well a course that caters to the aspiring interior stylists at the National Institute of Technical Education Certificate (NITEC) level. Meanwhile, the polytechnics and private institutions are doing fine in churning out diploma holders in interior design.”


SIDS interior design accreditation

Discussions carried on into the tea break between Space Matrix CEO Arsh Chaudhry (left) and ITE College Senior Director Callistus Chong (right)


SIDS states that it has taken on the leadership to steer the industry transformation toward accreditation. The Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Steering Committee will be set up and consist of representatives from government agencies and councils; related associations and societies; schools and institutions; and practitioners and firms. For discussion and alignment on the accreditation program, a series of roundtables will take place before the implementation of the accreditation scheme in 2021.


SIDS interior design accreditation

Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) President Rita Soh during the roundtable session


Photography by Lee Sin Poh.

Top image: Front row – Lai Yee Ling, Larry Ng, Keat Ong, Rita Soh, Mark Wee, Callistus Chong. Middle row – Mark Yong, Alan Ong, Yvonne Soh, Phillips M. Connor, Low Chee Kiang, Kelly Chin (Council Member, SIDS – Observer), Jimmy Tong (CEO, Luxx NewHouse – Observer), Ng Hwee Li, Franz Gonzales. Back row – Tung Ching Yew (Council Member, SIDS – Observer), Jackie Lai (Council Member, SIDS – Observer), Hendra Sutedjo (Honorary Advisor, SIDS – Observer), Colin Chew, Lau Chun Hong (Council Member, SIDS – Observer), Jacks Yeo, Cynthia Liau, Fann Zhi Jie, Khairudin Saharom.

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