Interview with SBID Director, Vanessa Brady

Vanessa Brady was recently awarded an OBE for services to the interior 

design industry and SBID continues to go from strength to strength


Can you give us an introduction to The Society of British and International Design and why you decided to found it?


SBID is Britain’s standard-bearer organisation for the profession of interior design. We are the national representative of the European Council of Interior Architects (ECIA) ensuring that international professional accreditation standards are met in Britain.


We support the profession locally, nationally and internationally, guiding and setting the industry’s trading standards through practice, competence and education. My main goal for setting up SBID was to protect. Firstly to protect trained interior designers from the risk of being labelled a hobbyist and secondly to protect consumers from unskillfulness and litigation which prevents investment, growth and restricts a key British attribute; design innovation. I found that creating a body that embraced industry wide competitors, education and training, finance, consumer protection and global forces, would turn a developing industry into a structured profession.


Soon after we established theSBID International Design Awards which were introduced to celebrate all that great design represents.


What is the mission of SBID?


Our mission has always been to enforce best practice and competence within the profession of interior design and to recognise, reward and celebrate design creativity within the industry. By initially connecting with interior organisations on a global level, we were able to develop new markets in the UK where previously, due to a lack of standards, Britain had been excluded, placing Britain on a level playing field within Europe and globally amongst counterpart organisations. Now having been recognised by the Government, we feel we have made some headway and are excited for things to come!


Can you give us your own background?


I came from an eclectic and creative background. My mother was in fashion and my father, engineering, so I grew up in a house of fabric and artistic ideas. Interior design caught my attention as I experimented with my interests in textile design and construction and since then, I’ve never lost interest in the multi-faceted profession. I went on to study in Poole, Bournemouth, the USA as well as London and my qualifications range from business and design in a variety of religious, business and university establishments. I set up my practice, Interior Design Services LTD over 30 years ago, and have been going ever since.


Tell us more about the role of education within SBID?


The role of education at SBID is twofold. It seemed natural that we began this mission with the youth as they are our future leaders and employees and although they may be better educated than their counterparts in the 1980’s, what they lack is experience. SBID are committed to developing nurturing relationships between them and potential employers with the central goal of empowering a generation of innovative employable students and bridging their gap between learning and earning. We have in the past offered a variety of schemes to help students and are now working with selected universities to develop new schemes and endorse interior design courses as well as offer mentoring opportunities through our metamorphosis competition.


On the other hand, being driven by our core mission of promoting best practice and competence, we offer CPD’s for working interior design professionals to develop their skills and to be professionally accredited through SBID. We are currently also working with the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) to make the qualification available to UK and European Interior professionals through SBID. Currently more than 29,000 individuals around the world have earned the NCIDQ certificate which measures a designer’s competency in public health, safety and welfare.


How has SBID grown and what did it mean to you to achieve such a high honour?


I believe SBID grew quickly because the quality of members we have. They wanted to be part of an organisation which had training at its core and one which had established an education structure leading to professional employment. Funnily enough, it hadn’t been done until SBID launched it as a British standard and encouraged the industry to follow which created the trend. It established interior design as a profession and separated it from hobbyists – and that is why we gathered support from such high quality designers and manufacturers. We also made sure that everything we did was approved by government standards before we launched, so it is encouraging, more than anything, to have been awarded such a high honour.


Tell us about being awarded the OBE by the Queen.


It was a shock to receive such a wonderful honour. It really does demonstrate endorsement of our standards and market position. I’m absolutely thrilled and couldn’t quite believe it until it actually happened, I kept thinking things like that don’t happen to me, I’m just doing my job, but I’m so honoured and thrilled with it. I still keep giggling with glee!


Describe some of the proudest projects of Interior Design Services Ltd to date.


I don’t think I can pick! Many of my proudest, I unfortunately cannot speak about but I can list a few that I am currently working on… We have recently completed additional works at the palace of the Sultan of Brunei who are my regular clients and have also just completed offices in the city for Uni Lever. I’ve also been working for around year with McLaren Construction and McLaren Interiors in Monte Carlo. And finally, we are also working with three super yacht companies in Cyprus, the Middle East, Monaco and Poole.


How have you seen the interior design industry change in recent years?


It’s starting to get its act together finally! It’s being monitored and growth is slow but there is a new willingness to connect overlapping industries and supply chains which was one of my key objectives. I also see a willingness from developers to invest in design as the horizon becomes more professional.


What changes do you foresee for the future of the industry?


I’ve always strongly believed that human relationship will lead the design industry. As technology continues to expand, people are becoming more isolated. I envision the industry following suit, integrating people and allowing the option for personal space when and where necessary. This is the industry’s moment to connect, engage, excel and develop the sector. I see investment and opportunity for design in construction, in business development and in the increased return on investment all looking at design as the key to releasing an increased margin of profit.


What do you have planned next for SBID?


Our next steps, after creating an industry footprint, are to continue to endorse and give weight to our standards. We are continually growing from strength to strength and have a lot of plans to develop the relationships and markets we have already established, such as our education and insurance sectors. As we continue to gain support from the industry, the more we will be able to service it.

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