There's a common misperception of interior designers that focuses on the decoration aspect of a project.
Interior design can be 20%-25% design and 75%-80% project management or paperwork. The NCIDQ Exam focuses on the “paperwork” or non-design responsibilities of an interior designer.
Depending upon your interior design work experience and background in performing specific tasks, you may need to beef up your exposure to this area to help you connect what you're studying with the practical application in the field.
Not all interior designers working at the junior level or as assistants have had exposure to all the different phases of design. While you're studying for the exam, ask your manager or team supervisor for an opportunity to participate or observe projects in different phases, or to review past project documents.
Contract Documents — The Key to an Interior Designer’s Success
Designers work with many people including architects, builders, many trades and sub-contractors. A consistent and uniform communication system with these and your clients is critical to your success. Interior Designers work with the building shell and not just interior finishes and furnishings.
The NCIDQ exam covers many design conventions used by all trades to communicate with each other:
- Construction Documents
- Contract Administration, including shop drawings and submittals
From Sample to Installation
The many factors to consider when choosing FF&E are also covered on the exam. This includes costing, sourcing and researching FF&E, all equally important.
Although your clients may think otherwise, no interior designer waves a magic wand. Designers don't “magically” research, select, order, receive and install FF&E in a project.
Products should be evaluated for the client's criteria. This means they should be cost effective, durable, sustainable, and meet the desired aesthetic. Testing for durability and safety are of particular importance. You should know how to evaluate a fabric for durability, or a floor tile for slip resistance.
A heavy focus of the IDPX exam, project management is an important responsibility of an interior designer. Bringing the project in on time and under budget, with a happy client, is no easy task!
An interior designer is responsible for:
- Negotiating fee
- Writing contracts
- Determining scope of work
- Creating a work schedule
- Managing budgets
These are all fair game for questions on the NCIDQ Exam:
- What is not found in the contract?
- Budget amount
- Address of project
- Progress payment schedule
- Time frame in days or weeks
- Cover letter
Don’t worry, even if you are thinking, “I’m not a project manager at work!” you can do well on this content area with the right preparation.
One thing you can do to prepare is to take an honest inventory of your skills and experience as an interior designer. The Qpractice work experience assessment will walk you through the different phases of design, and help you see where you may have missed exposure to certain design tasks that you may be tested on.
Have a coffee date or two with a project manager to better understand the critical parts of contract documents and how those apply during the contract administration phase of design.