Launched by the Society of Interior Designers, Singapore (SIDS) in November 2021, the Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Scheme (SIDAS) is an accreditation scheme that provides a framework to regulate Singapore’s interior design industry, as well as opportunities for existing practitioners to upskill. Asia Designers Directory speaks with Prof. Keat Ong, president of SIDS to find out more.
SIDS took a big step in implementing SIDAS as an accreditation framework for interior designers. Can you tell us more about the accreditation scheme and how will this benefit the industry as a whole?
The Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Scheme (SIDAS) attempts to elevate Singapore’s interior design profession by defining core skill sets and competencies to bridge the gap between education and practice.
The Interior Designers Code, together with Interior Design Rules, helps ensure high standards across Singapore. Coupled with Continuing Professional Development (CPD), practitioners would have the opportunity to upskill, build capacity and eventually export their skills overseas.
The Singapore Interior Design Academy (SIDA) will also be set up to provide pathways for practitioners, whether fresh graduates or design veterans but without the right qualifications, to get certified.
This initiative reflects the recommendations in the Industry Transformation Roadmap Development for Interior Design Industry in Singapore, aimed to elevate the local interior design scene. What were the key considerations when planning this scheme and who were the partners involved in bringing this scheme to fruition?
In 2018, DesignSingapore Council and SIDS started developing the Transformation Roadmap for the interior design profession as we found that there was a growing appreciation and awareness for interior design in Singapore.
Working together with government agencies, industry practitioners, academics and affiliated industries for the past 3 years, the accreditation programme was created to ensure competency and in turn, increase the competitiveness of our practitioners locally and beyond the local shores.
One of the two main reasons behind why this accreditation programme was created was to elevate interior design as a profession and to distinguish qualified interior designers from the untrained and undertrained.
With 745 complaints lodged in the past year with CASE against design firms and renovation contractors in the last year alone, our profession has been tarnished by bad hats who give the industry a bad name by underdelivering on jobs or worse, leaving consumers in a lurch with incomplete jobs. As a result, trust and confidence in Singapore’s interior designers took a hit.
The industry also needed to adopt a culture of lifelong learning and switch to a more qualification-based system of distinguishing and recognising interior designers, bringing us to the other reason why we wanted to create this scheme. In most places around the world, the interior design profession carries the same weight as an architect, in the sense that for one to be considered for a professional interior designer, the minimum education that one would require is a university degree.
How has Singapore’s interior design scene evolved over the years and how does it compare with the interior design sectors elsewhere in the region or globally?
We know that in recent years, a growing number of Singaporean interior designers have been making a name for themselves, winning prestigious projects all around the region, if not the world. At home, a growing understanding and appreciation for design have also seen greater acceptance for the role of an interior designer for projects. What we hope for the scheme is to help foster a more competitive and competent group of professionals in the industry.
What is your long-term vision for SIDS and how else do you hope to initiate change moving forward?
With SIDAS being a voluntary scheme where interior designers practicing in Singapore are not obligated to acquire the accreditation, the council is, however, looking to make accreditation mandatory in the future.