The Architects Registration Board says the Chartered Society of Designers will have to lobby the Government to change the law if interior designers wish to describe themselves as interior architects.
A court case in March clarified that the word architect – used as a title or affix by an unregistered architect – is in breach of the Architects Act 1997. This means interior designers cannot describe themselves as interior architects.
The ARB will send out guidelines at the end of the month as part of a programme to clarify exactly who can and cannot legally use the term architect to describe their profession. After that it will begin prosecuting those using the term illegally. The word architecture is not subject to any such stipulation.
Josef Ransley, chair of the CSD interiors group, is appealing to the ARB to reverse its decision on the grounds that the public cannot distinguish between interior designers and interior decorators.
“In our view [the use of the term interior architects] would promote clearer public recognition and understanding of professional standards of practice,” says Ransley in a recent letter to ARB assistant registrar Richard Coleman. Ransley also points out that European interior designers are subject to no such laws.
Coleman says the only way to exempt interior designers from the law, as it stands, is to change it.
“The ARB has been set up to clarify and implement the law, not change it. If the CSD wishes to do that, it will have to do considerable research and lobby the Government. The Royal Institute of British Architects could be a good place to start,” says Coleman.