Professionals in any field are expected to have knowledge of their particular vocations. For example, when you visit a doctor, you expect that they will know medicine; will know how to help you; or if they are unable to help you, will refer you to a specialist who knows more about your particular ailment. You have confidence because your doctor has completed considerable education, finished a residency period with monitored experience, and passed an examination that qualifies him or her to be called a doctor and practice medicine.
If you encounter a doctor who is knowledgeable and has a great bedside manner, you are lucky. Is a doctor who goes above and beyond the minimum level of care providing greater value to you? That depends on how you define value ... it depends upon what matters most to you. Perhaps you place more value on getting in and out of the doctor's office quickly, rather than having the doctor spend more time with you in the exam room.
When designers talk about "the value of design," an oft-used phrase, what exactly do they mean? Is it that the public is finally appreciating good design? Or, is it that consumers consider interior designers' services a good value for the money expended? Merriam-Webster defines value as: "a fair return or equivalent in goods, services or money for something exchanged; the monetary worth of something; relative worth, utility, or importance."
I do not think of the U.S. Army as a progressive organization when it comes to design. However, Army research conducted several years ago regarding the use of qualified interior designers on projects points to an organization that discovered the value of interior design. Their research states, "The effectiveness of U.S. Army personnel depends heavily on the design of the facilities they work in. Interior aspects such as floor layout, workstation configuration, etc., can affect worker productivity, comfort, safety and health. Inadequately designed facilities can decrease worker productivity and increase life-cycle and medical costs ... impairing the Army's ability to fulfill its mission. Applying proper interior design principles early in facility design can ensure that a building will serve its occupants well and achieve optimal life-cycle costs."
This research identified and documented the importance of interior design in the construction and renovation of Army facilities, and its implications for facility management activities and the occupants' quality of life. The U.S. Army perceives good design as a way to increase productivity and well-being of their personnel and lower life-cycle and medical costs. Design adds value to the Army because it positively impacts their bottom line.
As an interior designer, what you do every day affects people where they live, work or play. For your client, your service adds value because of the wise decisions you are making early in the project that carry through to an economic value at the end. For the users of the space, you are adding value because, whether the users realize it or not, the space has been intentionally designed to enhance their well-being.
This is a lesson that I have learned in the last few years as a public member of NCIDQ's board. I am not an interior designer, yet I have come to appreciate, with the eyes of the "public," the value of design. I have learned that properly qualified designers can make a difference, not just in the aesthetics of where I spend my time, but in my psychological and physical well-being as well.
NCIDQ Certificate holders already know the value that comes with having a credential that defines excellence. NCIDQ Certificate holders have demonstrated their commitment to excellence through their education, experience and taking an examination covering the body of knowledge essential to interior design practice. These milestones are not to be taken lightly. They come with the accountability the public clamors for today. They have value.
The NCIDQ credential is mobile. Because the NCIDQ Examination is the standard in most U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions, the Certificate forms the basis for registration and licensure. If you are seeking employment or commissions in other jurisdictions, you may be able to put yourself on the fast track to licensure/registration elsewhere if you have the NCIDQ credential. RFPs often require NCIDQ Certificate holders on a project. Your credential makes you valuable. More than 22,000 individuals who have taken and passed the Examination already know the value of the NCIDQ credential.
I realize that "interior designer" is a term that can be used in many jurisdictions regardless of a person's education, experience or examination. Whether that individual offers great customer service, is an excellent designer or offers additional benefits that I value, is not guaranteed. But, because I place a high value on my well-being, I place a high value on hiring NCIDQ Certificate holders. I believe all NCIDQ Certificate holders should communicate their value to their clients and prospects. When interior design professionals make a case for the value of good design, everyone is well served.
Beth Holst is the public member of the NCIDQ board of directors. She also serves on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Homeland Security Standards Panel (HSSP). ANSI-HSSP identifies existing consensus standards and, where none exist, assists the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and those sectors requesting assistance to accelerate development and adoption of consensus standards critical to homeland security. For more information on NCIDQ, visit www.ncidq.org.