We Caught up Harriet Forde,The BIID President
Firstly, it would be great to find out more about you – what brought you to the interior design world and how long have you been involved with the BIID?
My journey to becoming a designer started with a love of colour and nature as a child – I was always aware of the immense beauty of colour and form in the natural world. After a DATEC diploma in interior design and then a degree in textile design at Central St Martins, my education truly started with my first job as a design assistant, working on Trust House Forte projects. From there, I went on to work for various large hospitality design companies, and in 1999 I launched my own company, Harriet Forde Design.
As my company has grown, being a member of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) has been invaluable. Established in 1965, the BIID is only professional institute for Interior Designers in the UK. The Institute sets national professional standards and champions the value of interior design, allowing consumers to identify designers who have demonstrated a high level of expertise and professionalism.
I’ve been delighted to have been directly involved with the BIID for several years now. As the current President, my key objectives are to work closely with the BIID Council, committees and other groups within the design community, nationally and internationally and continue the well-respected work of the BIID.
We are a nation obsessed with our homes – we only need to look at the popularity of home design shows or magazines – but so many of us get stuck in a rut when it comes to translating those ideas into reality – why do you think that is?
Many homeowners don’t have confidence when planning their interior design, so that’s where a professional interior designer can add value with their expert advice. The BIID carried out some consumer research in 2019, which found that many people struggle to make the right choice when it comes to the interior design of their own home. Across the UK, almost a third (30%) of respondents said they sometimes make interior design decisions that they go on to regret, yet 89% of respondents have never considered using a professional interior designer to help them, despite it not being as costly as people think.
Many of us think of interior designers as out of our realm – just something for the ultra-wealthy or commercial projects – what kind of a project can benefit from the advice of an interior designer?
When it comes to designing and decorating our homes, many homeowners do the job themselves and can end up with unsatisfactory results. With the help of a professional interior designer, you’re more likely to avoid mistakes, and end up with results that exceed your expectations and make your home a pleasure to live in.
Many people underestimate the cost of an interior designer – in the BIID’s recent survey with Houzz, almost 60% of respondents said that they charged up to £75 per hour for their services, challenging assumptions that professional interior design does not represent good value for money.
An interior designer can offer professional advice on the best use of your space so it is functional and suits the needs of those using it, give you access to the best quality suppliers and give you advice on cohesive interior schemes so your rooms flow, your furniture is fit for purpose and colour palettes are complimentary.
The BIID offers a helpful guide to working with an interior designer to help explain how using a professional designer can benefit your project. Visit BIID.org.uk to find out more.
When choosing a designer for our own homes, why is BIID membership an important mark to look for?
The answer is simple – the BIID is the only professional institute for interior designers in the UK. In addition to rigorous entry requirements which assess training, experience and professionalism, the BIID requires members to continue their professional development throughout their career to ensure their continued expertise in design process, practice and regulatory matters.
The BIID has a useful free tool on its new website to help homeowners find the right interior designer for their project.
You must have learnt so many lessons along the way with your career – what have been some of your biggest take-aways?
After 20 years, reflecting on all the projects, clients, and ups and downs of running your own business, I have come to the conclusion that nothing matters more than the professional execution of good design and working with really great people. Teamwork is key, as is tolerance and patience. Some of our relationships have lasted decades, and the combined experience and knowledge gained over that period is incredibly important.
About the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID)
Established in 1965, the BIID is the UK’s only professional institute for interior designers. The Institute sets national professional standards, promotes learning and debate, and champions the value of interior design on the national and international stage.
The BIID’s growing membership represents both the commercial and residential sectors, from heritage to cutting edge. In addition to rigorous entry requirements which assess training, experience and professionalism, the Institute requires members to continue their professional development throughout their career, ensuring their continued expertise in design process, practice and regulatory matters.
It is the only professional organisation for interior designers to have been granted the prestigious accolade of Institute status by the Secretary of State. In the UK, the BIID is a full member of the Construction Industry Council and, as such, is part of Government consultations to advise on new policy and legislation. Internationally, the BIID is represented on the board of the International Federation of Interior Architects and Designers. For more information, visit www.biid.org.uk.