Posted on Apr 18, 2017

You know what they say: Knowledge is power. What’s even more powerful than know-how? Ethical reasoning. Oftentimes as designers we are faced with challenges that force us into ethical situations. Had we not had our handy-dandy Code of Ethics readily available, the debacles we stood in front of could have been more costly and confrontational.

This blog is for designers and those looking to hire designers. More often than not, hiring a designer is a pleasant experience. Who doesn’t like creating their dream home with the perfect person to do it, right? However, when experiences get sticky or you and your client (or you and your designer) have reached an impasse, it’s always best to have something on hand to refer to. Consider this blog post your ethical guidelines for when the going gets tough.

 

DESIGNER CODE OF ETHICS

Designers

As a group of designers, we have most definitely been in your shoes. We’ve experienced the same high’s and low’s that you have, the same successes and lulls. Our team has also been familiar with the same clients you’ve had– exciting and up for anything, on-board and ready. Additionally, we’ve worked with the timid and shy, controlling and unwavering, as well as complicated and inquisitive. While we’ve pulled almost all of our hair out or stayed up way too late making last-minute reselections, we always circle back to this: Inspire clients with your professionalism. No matter the awkward or frustrated position you’re put in, always maintain your professionalism and poise. Your clients will come to appreciate your demeanor, and rarely does someone experience repercussions for being polite and gracious.

 

When Hiring a Designer

Designers who are accredited, trained, and educated have gone through years of rigorous instruction and testing, making them more than capable to handle nearly any and all design requests. There will be moments of hesitation, having to ask for help, or clarifying an idea, and they look forward to those moments because they will get to use their knowledge to help inspire your project. To ensure your project is handled with professionalism and care, create a relationship with your designer based on respect and understanding. While something may seem foreign to you (like a type of fabric or a funky sounding finish), your designer probably knows exactly what they’re referring to. And if they’re the type of upstanding professional we think that they are, they’ll hear out your need for clarification and respect your questions and comments, too.

 

DESIGNER CODE OF ETHICS

Designers

One thing that makes our job a little tough is making sure we comply with all local, state, and national regulations and rules when it comes to building, demolishing, and designing. Study up on your clients’ asks and confirm that what you’re being asked to do is safe, health-conscious, and generally okay with the public. If all else fails, get a lawyer to peek at contracts, city laws, and other official documents as a once-over before you take hammer to nail.

 

When Hiring a Designer

We’ll say this as many times as it takes: Make sure your designer has been properly trained, certified, accredited, and educated in their field. The term ‘designer’ is loosely handled and can be applied to any job description that handles fabrics, finishes, construction, and redesign. Don’t know? Ask. Check out the largest and most respected organization in the industry:

ASID = American Society of Interior Designers. If your designer has any version of this next to their email signature or business card, it means they’ve taken a national test (and passed), ensuring they’ve reached actual designer status.

 

DESIGNER CODE OF ETHICS

Designers

As a designer, you have a duty to a few people. The first is your client. They’re hiring you for your knowledge, expertise, and because you will truthfully talk to them about the cost of a project, the risk involved with restructuring and redesigning, and what will or won’t happen when implementing a certain product or technique into their project. The second person you have a duty toward is yourself and your firm. Maintain a stance of professionalism to yourself and your employees (or employer) that you’d expect as a client or colleague. Lastly, you have a responsibility to the profession. Conduct yourself in such a way that the interior design community as a whole would go to bat for you should anything happen. Our industry is full of camaraderie and teamwork, boasting a network of thousands of designers and professionals who respect each other and their businesses. Don’t be that one person who that has to make a scene!

 

When Hiring a Designer

Anytime you hire someone to perform a service for you, whether that’s designing your home, taking your picture, or cooking your meals, there’s an unspoken commitment to courtesy. We can all agree that encouraging a polite and gracious environment is great for you and your designer. If your designer says or does something that doesn’t promote this positive picture, it’s your job to say something to first the designer, then their employer or the organization that recommended them. In the same sense, your designer expects you to be gracious and forthcoming. Designers and members of our industry prop each other up with reviews and recommendations of clients we’ve helped in the past. Don’t be one that doesn’t receive five stars.

DESIGNER CODE OF ETHICS

Designers

As mentioned above, our industry is strong and well-connected. As a designer, you have a responsibility to yourself, your professional status, and your employer. Whether this is your first job out of design school, you’re freelancing, or on your way to heading a department or owning your own firm, treating your employer and colleagues with respect is super important. Don’t take drawings that aren’t yours, post projects without giving photo credit that involve others, spill the beans on confidential projects or reports, or divulge information to clients or competing firms without the permission of everyone involved in the project. Not only is this common sense, but it promotes a healthy work environment, and that’s something we can all strive for.

 

When Hiring a Designer

As a client, it can be tricky navigating the waters of an interior design firm. To make sure you get off on the right foot with your chosen designer, contact the firm they are from directly and make sure you have the contact information for your head designer, his/her assisting team members, and whoever is in charge of the firm. While you should never go around your designer to their boss for project information, it’s helpful to have everyone’s information handy should anything come up. Know that when you hire a designer, they have a responsibility to their career and to their employer to maintain confidential information like industry partners, vendor lists, and affiliates that are strictly “To the Trade”. Likewise, your designer will divulge all appropriate information as it pertains to the project. Aka don’t ask for the name of your designer’s manufacturer and know that they are in contact with their partners to ensure you are getting the best possible deal on your custom coffee table.

 

DESIGNER CODE OF ETHICS

Designers

Chances are, if you’ve been in the business awhile, you’ve seen duplicates of designs and products. While maybe not intentional, it’s a messy problem dealing with copycats. As an interior designer, you should not interfere with another designer’s professional relationship with their client or any contract they are currently a part of. Similarly, you shouldn’t initiate or participate in anything that would result in harm to another firm or designer’s reputation or business relationships. Cattiness is a strict no-no.

 

When Hiring a Designer

If you’ve hired a designer and made a commitment to them, stick with them. There’s no worse feeling as a designer than when you find out your client is working with another designer, swapping your work, and plugging in pieces from someone else’s portfolio. Avoid this gut-punch by being honest and up-front with your design team. If you don’t like something they’ve selected, tell them!

 

DESIGNER CODE OF ETHICS

Designers

Designers: Education is so very important. It is unethical and could result in the loss of your business to tout yourself, members of your firm, or your business as being certified as something that you/it is not. Do not plug that you’ve received training, certification, registration, or education to become an interior designer if you have not. If you’re in the process of becoming trained/certified, then say so. Members of the American Society of Interior Designers that knowingly misrepresent the experience, professional expertise, or level of education of someone who calls themselves a designer is at risk of being dismissed by the organization, losing their accreditation and status as a certified Interior Designer.

 

When Hiring a Designer

Perhaps the most important piece of advice we have to offer is this: If you hire someone who calls themselves a designer, check their accolades, educational background, and certifications to ensure that they are, indeed, an interior designer. The design community is large and vast and often goes unchallenged, especially when deciphering between designers, decorators, stagers, and stylists. The best way to find out the true status of the person you’ve hired is by checking the American Society of Interior Designer’s database or asking your designer outright. While many decorators, stagers, and stylists are incredibly talented and popular, they do not have the educational background and proper certification to give you advice on restructuring or redesigning your home with certain chemicals, products, furnishings, and other design tools. It’s better to be safe than sorry and out $50,000. Right?

 

Using this code of ethics as your guide, as a hired designer or prospective client, you can promote an environment of positivity and smooth sailing toward a common goal—a beautiful home!

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply