Women in the City

Women of Achievement

I am flattered and delighted on behalf of all interior designers that finally we are recognised within the built environment as a serious profession. The Women in the City annual award for Women of Achievement has a category for banking, healthcare, law, IT and the built environment.


The award recognises women who have contributed to their profession above and beyond their daily role. Competition is a great thing, it encourages inspiration, innovation and consumer protection. It generates value for the consumer and it provides an all essential choice, it is encouraged by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Interior Design, has been emerging for far too long, it’s already the subject that generates more publications than any other profession providing more interior design magazines in Britain than anywhere else in Europe. As one of the leading (if not) countries in the world for design innovation, it is an ironic fact that Interior Design remains unregulated. It was the reason why, with my colleagues, I decided in 2006 to set a company which creates standards for Britain in the interior design industry. Although there is a world of difference from an accredited SBID designer and an unregulated hobbyist, they both provide choice and there is a space for each. In the industry I recognised that education, training and work experience are the core basis of every profession, many colleagues agreed but we have been negligent as professionals in our duties to set a standard and footprint in which to pass onto the next generation.

Lavinia Engleman with Dolly Parton – Two dollies!

Using our own experience we know how we got where we are, through error, hard work and now experience. However, in our golden years if we fail to set up a handover strategy of knowledge-share to the next generation of trained designers, our lifetime’s work will be forever lost. It was that thought that inspired me to set a British standard. I tried to engage others but they were unwilling to see training as a value, arguing that design was an art not a skill to be learned. I disagreed and so I decided to set up a separate destination, if I was wrong, I would fail, but if I was right I had done the right thing. SBID has now been trading for four years and recently restructured to also include International designers.

The restructure incorporates an independent continued professional development (CPD) programme, a quarterly published members glossy journal and two sector related newsletters, a unique insurance professional indemnity policy and the celebrated international design awards.

In the four years since the original registration, SBID has become Britain’s largest membership organisation, the only representative interior design organisation member of the European Council of a Interior Architects (ECIA) the twenty year old 19 country member organisation of education, standards and conduct. The ECIA is registered in Brussels, the destination that hosts and governs law for Europe, it therefore overrides British law.

SBID is registered by the government in Britain and partners with the National Training Board (NTG) for apprenticeships and The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA). Every interior has a bathroom, so it’s natural that we should champion that area of expertise. Until now it had been ignored and we have successfully created a noise and following that has encouraged an industry to unite across different platforms, it can only benefit the industry at large which will convert to increased market share and jobs. I believe designers should be aware of building regulations so as to directly specify products that are fit for purpose when installed.

Built Environment

The Built Environment is a term known to us who work in the industry but perhaps not so much to others. It is defined as human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from buildings and parks or green space to neighbourhoods and cities it is the collection of assembled space on the outside that can often include their supporting infrastructure, such as water supply, or energy networks.

Interior Design

I think it’s been the missing bit. With everything profession accumulated around the table it occurred to me that interior design didn’t have a seat …so I approached the Construction Industry Council for my practice, Interior Design Services Ltd, back in 2006 to demonstrate the value design brings. I spent over a year in meetings with them at their offices in the Building Centre in Store Street London W1.


How we begun, after carrying out research and creating reports, submitting them to a House of Commons lobby group, Minister and member of the House of Lords

  • I consulted with existing bodies in design, manufacture and construction
  • I created and presented evidence for the necessity of a destination based upon training, education and competence
  • I used other Countries success and regulation procedures as evidence

Unfortunately nobody would listen, in fact I was thrown under the bus, I don’t think I was or am different in that respect to many women in business. The road is not easy, if it were it would not be a task still undone.

In my early days in business I saw the now aged film, Nine till Five The sound track made famous by the great Dolly Parton who is a true woman, and a less unknown businesswoman, but an incredibly smart and self made woman who knows exactly what she’s doing. You won’t ever outsmart Dolly. My very own Dolly, my daughter, marketeer Lavinia Engleman.


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