Interior Design Associations Design Students Should Know

Author: Jasmine Benton, June 16, 2021

Receiving Support as a Design Student

It can be difficult trying to find the right support as a design student. We have support from our professors and maybe some classmates, but have you ever thought you wanted to communicate with other designers in training. If your anything like me, I know getting to know other design students and watching their design process can help your own design process. I wanted to look at design associations for interior designers and interior design students. I’ve come to find to find out that most students don’t even know about these associations. Here some associations design students should know about, and a special surprise at the end.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)

ASID advances the profession and communicates the impact of interior design to enhance the human experience.

The must important and known association is The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). This is the most prominent association in the interior design industry and welcomes everyone, whether you’re an interior architect, materials specialist/decorator, student, or vender.

As an interior architect student this association is the most important in my industry. In fact this association is most important because when you join you receive credibility for your Interior Design/Architecture Business, and for many vendors. This certification counts as a qualification to receive the all-important trade accounts and you receive designer discounts. However, that is not available for all design companies.

How does this benefit interior design students and new interior designs?

They advocate for the interior design industry, provide education for designers and design students, connect designers with vendors, sell templates for critical legal documents such as clients agreements, and provide grants and scholarships.

Who can join? How do you join?

The organization has five levels of membership. 

  1. The highest level:
    • professional Membership, is reserved for certified interior designers who have passed the NCIDQ examination (more on that below). 
  2. The next level:
    • is an Allied Membership, which is for practicing interior designers who have completed 40 semester hours or 60 quarter credit hours in interior design education from an accredited institution (continuing education does not count towards the requirements). 
  3. The other membership:
    • levels are tailored towards educators, students, and vendors such as industry manufacturers, related trade associations, and market centers.

American Institute of Architecture (AIA)

We advocate for the value of architecture and give architects the resources they need to do their best work. Our work drives positive change through the power of design.

The American Institute of Architecture (AIA) is an organization that represents the highest standard of professionalism within the industry for architects, including interior architects. The organization is headquartered in Washington D.C. and works with the government on its goals of professional advocacy and community redevelopment.

How does this benefit interior design students and new interior designs?

The AIA offers their members education, business administration support, discounts and they help them prepare for licensing. The American Institute of Architecture hosts events yearly and offer network opportunities to many members.

Who can join? How do you join?

AIA has seven levels of membership:

  1. Architect members (AIA)
    • are licensed to practice architecture by a licensing authority in the United States. 
  2. Associate members (Assoc. AIA)
    • are not licensed to practice architecture but are working under the supervision of an architect, have earned professional degrees in architecture, are faculty members, or are interns earning credit toward licensure
  3. Associate New Graduates
    • is a new membership level that is an entry point to the levels of membership for architecture students that are about to or have newly graduated. Membership is free for the first eighteen months.
  4. The other levels are International, Emeritus and Allied members. 

Interior Design Society (IDS)

Jason Clifton, National President of IDS

“We are a close-knit community of diverse individuals that are committed to the business development of interior design entrepreneurs. The organization creates and delivers business tools while serving as a means to expand platforms at the chapter level and the national level.”

The Interior Design Society (IDS) is the largest association dedicated to residential interior design. The IDS national headquarters is located in High Point, N.C., the international furniture capital, and home to the High Point Markets.

How does this benefit interior design students and new interior designs?

They have over 2,000 members clients cab look at for residential design. Members are included in a directory, making it easy to connect with fellow members on a local and national level, and enjoy networking events and an annual conference. In fact, IDS created a virtual chapter even before COVID to bring together people who were not affiliated with a local chapter, seeing the need to provide resources to a broader set of people who were previously unable to connect locally due to distance. IDS also gives out scholarships for interior interior design students, and its website includes a helpful Job Listings Board

Who can join? How do you join?

The IDS has different membership levels, but the Interior Designer level does not exclude non-licensed designers, while instead offering multiple streams of eligibility. The other membership levels are tailored to vendors and students. The IDS also offers a modest scholarship program. 

The Council for Interior Design Qualification 

Katherine Sible, Interior Designer

“Becoming NCIDQ Certified was an extension and confirmation of the hard work I had to put into a quality degree. I backed up my experience and education with a certification I could share with potential employers and clients looking for quality, knowledgeable work.”

The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CDIQ, or commonly referred to as NCIDQ) administers the industry’s gold standard, legally recognized (and in some states mandatory) credentials for interior design that includes architecture.

How to get the National Council for Interior Design Qualification:

The council administers a series of three exams, the IDFX, IDPX, and the Practicum Exam, which make up the NCIDQ license. Each exam requires a certain level of education and years of work experience that step up in criteria with each exam.

How does this benefit interior design students and new interior designs?

The purpose of the NCIDQ is to establish and enforce design and building standards within the field of interior design to protect the public. The highest levels of membership in the industry’s most prominent associations, ASID, IIDA, and AIA, all require an NCIDQ license to participate. For more information on the process of becoming NCIDQ licensed, visit their website.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

At USGBC we’re committed to transforming buildings, because we believe that every person deserves a better, more sustainable life.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is the leading association for green building practices. and the organization that established and oversees the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems. 

How does this benefit interior design students and new interior designs?

The organization includes interior designers, real estate professionals, governments, developers, contractors, architects, engineers, educators, and companies. Membership with the USGBC offers education and training towards LEED professional credentialing, discounts on LEED and Greenbuild events, and the most direct access to professionals dedicated to sustainable building. USGBC also hosts a number of events and regional student competitions. 

Who can join? How do you join?

Membership is offered at four levels, three of which are oriented towards corporations, and one that is offered at an individual membership. Each level has different eligibility requirements and member benefits, which are described here

The International Interior Design Association (IIDA)

IIDA provides meaningful resources to commercial interior designers and their clients to advance the profession and enhance business value.

The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) is another widely recognized organization within the interior design community that is focused on serving the commercial interior design sector. 

How does this benefit interior design students and new interior designs?

Membership benefits include subscriptions to trade magazines, tuition reimbursement programs, and the ability to reach professionals around the world, as well as invitations to attend IIDA conferences at reduced rates.

Who can join? How do you join?

IIDA has 12,000 members practicing across more than 30 chapters around the world, making it a leading networking resource for designers seeking to build relationships outside of the United States. The 2021 events calendar has a number of events; the national chapter is hosting its usual roster of awards and local chapters are offering an extensive amount of virtual educational sessions on topics such as “Evidence Based Design and Flooring” and “Sustainability Series – Closing the Transparency Loop”.

The International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA)

At IFDA, our mission is to inspire collaboration within the furnishings and design industry to support its people, their products and services.

The International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) is the leading global organization representing all components of the furnishings and design industry. 

How does this benefit interior design students and new interior designs?

One of the greatest benefits of being an IFDA member is the access it gives you to the semi-annual High Point Markets. IFDA members receive an Industry Pass to the High Point Markets, some of the best industry networking events of the year, plus a Buyers Pass with proof of an EIN or Tax ID number and your business card. 

Why you should join?

Include business-related discounts, supplemental insurance (both personal life and business), and membership in IFDA Educational Foundation, the philanthropic arm of IFDA, which offers scholarships and grants, and hosts student competitions. IFDA also publishes a quarterly magazine with work from selected members who are chosen based on their portfolio application. They have a consistent calendar of upcoming virtual interactive educational panels, including their 2021 “Ask the Expert” virtual series.

Joining the Our Community

I know it is hard to get on your feet an interior design/architecture student. In fact, it might be overwhelming trying to find internships, or design jobs. Not only that but the Interior Design Associations, even though they prove to be beneficial, can cost a lot.

Interior Design/Architecture Student Group

I might have a solution. I have created this group for design students, like me. This is important to me because, not a lot of associations provide support for design students. We are in a rigorous field and it can get a bit much. This will be our safe space. Join in and share your experiences. Share your designs and your questions. So join our little community now.

Meet the author:

Jasmine Benton | Interior Architecture Student

“I want to use design to make a difference in our world today. I want to create something beautiful, some precious for other people.”