Interior designers must also be aware not only that they are designing for the client who hires them, but that their work has a much broader impact—on all the users of the space, society as whole, and the environment. Sustainable design is a concept that influences every decision made by the socially responsible designer. A sustainable design considers the needs of the present users of a space, but does not compromise the needs of future generations. Thus, designing sustainably means that a designer considers the three intertwined issues of the economic, social, and environmental impact of any action, especially the design of a building interior.
Additionally, interior designers are responsible for selecting the materials that make up the nonstructural elements of the interior space and the finishes that are applied to these elements. According to the 2011 Standards of the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, or CIDA, the accrediting body for interior design programs at colleges and universities, students in interior design “have an awareness of a broad range of materials and products [and an awareness of] their typical fabrication and installation methods and maintenance requirements.” According to CIDA, students should be “able to select and apply appropriate materials and products on the basis of their properties and performance criteria, including ergonomics, environmental attributes and life-cycle costs” (CIDA, Standard 11).
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Because the work of interior designers affects the health, safety, and welfare of the public, many states regulate the practice of interior design. In 2012, 27 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and eight Canadian provinces, have enacted some type of legislation that regulates either the use of the title “Interior Designer” or the practice of interior design. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) develops and administers the examination that certifies that an interior designer has the “knowledge and experience to create interior spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also functional and safe” (www.NCIDQ.org). After meeting the required combination of education and experience, one must pass the NCIDQ to be considered a professional interior designer by professional interior design organizations, employers, state regulators, and the general public. The NCIDQ certification examination includes questions about finish materials. This textblog is designed to give interior designers information they need to successfully qualify as professionals. Questions that relate to materials and finishes are found in the NCIDQ test Sections 1 and 3, as shown here:
Each material that is used by a designer must be evaluated for its environmental impact, the code requirements and other regulations to be considered in its selection, and the effect the material has on accessibility. Once a material is evaluated and selected for a project, the designer must be able to document that selection so the project can be properly built using the appropriate materials and finishes. Because each of these issues is a factor in selecting any material, the following overview will aid in the understanding of the discussion topics in each home design.