Personal ethical and legal work practices

What are the ethical and legal work practices which are relevant to my own work practices?
There are many laws designers; in this case Interior Designers, MUST ADHERE TO, and the following is based around the Design Institute of Australia's (DIA) Code of Ethics:
Designers working as part of a team or alone must adhere to the design industry's code of ethics at all times. For some designers, there may be multiple codes to follow - one set of codes set down by an employer, or one set of codes set down by professional organisations. There may even be a personal set of codes to abide by. This protects the industry and the designer when on the job, whether in an office or out on a renovation. EVERY DESIGNER MUST UTLISE A CODE OF ETHICS RELEVANT TO THE PARTICULAR COUNTRY THEY ARE WORKING IN AS WELL AS PERSONALLY. All members are required to conduct themselves honourably and honestly in their dealings with their clients, the community and their colleagues:
The Designer's Responsibility to the Community.
Designers should not only make a concept according to a client, but also for the public around the client’s environment. Nowadays, interior designers have to think about how the work they produce can impact on people who will see it. The audience is the population, the public at large, with different age groups.  Things to consider include taking projects that could result in some degree of harm to the public, the communicated message and its truthfulness, mutual respect of the audience, discriminatory actions and obligation to serve the community.(Carrie, 2014)
The Designer's Responsibility to the Client.
The designer’s responsibility to interact well with clients is essential in the design industry. There must be a code of conduct i.e no conflicts of interest, confidentiality in some specific types of projects. The designer must be professional at work and also when talking to clients. This will set a tone for the employer who hires a designer in his/her company and the reputation the interior designer will earn in the industry.
The Designer's Responsibility to other Designers.
How designers work and interact with each other is essential in a company. It is even just as valuable as designing a concept for clients. There must be a fair and open competition amongst interior designers. Healthy practices involve honouring others’ work including no copyright infringement, trademarks and other design property. A design’s company member shall not belittle or denigrate the work or reputation of another designer.
Careful work consideration should be applied for every designer. The designer should creating his own working guidelines that match with his/her company and personality. What is acceptable in one company, may not be for another. The ethics will help each other to attain their professional goals without interfering in forbidden affairs.
Designer's Renumeration (Fees and Compensation)
One of the things that classifies a professional design as such is the collection of fees and payment for work. A good code also outlines fees and payments, what kinds charges are acceptable, when taking a fee could cause potential conflict, how contracts should be maintained and honoured, and provisions for estimates (if applicable). (Carrie, 2014)
The Designer's Conduct
There are special implemented ethical codes that outline basic rules of conduct for a professional designer. These applicable rules are meant to be understood, respected and obeyed for healthy and trustworthy business practices. Some basic conduct rules consist of refusing unlawful or fraudulent work or refusing a work that will cause harm to people.
Legal work practices are an important feature in design industry. This help companies in preventing non-conformed practices that will harm both the designer and the reputation of the design company.
The following are essential procedures to prevent a legal minefield from occurring at work:
  • Don’t steal others’ work;
  • Don’t copy other designers’ work without their permission;
  • Don’t lie to the employer or the clients;
  • Don’t cheat just to have more money;
  • Do NOT work for free.
The 2 IMPORTANT features that will be shown below demonstrate how important the legal work practices are, in the design industry.
(i) Protect Copyrights
By law, an interior designer or any other designer retains the right of his/her work. Owning the rights enables the designer to get paid for additional use of a design and also protect the latter from unwanted changes.
(ii) Always use a Contract
The designer may trust his/her client, and vice versa, but the best way for a project to start and finish well, is to always use a contract. Signing a contract should not be seen as un uncomfortable task in which all requirements, rules and regulations are specified. Instead, it should be seen as an agreement that protects both parties throughout the process. Every projects should have a specific contract that details the job to be completed.
As yet, I have not begun working with anyone in the interior design industry, and all of my studies are 'mock' related and online. However, from studying a Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration with Martin College I have adhered to the same code of ethics and legal obligations as any Professional Interior Designer must adhere to, and what I will continue to do when I graduate.
As a prospective Interior Design graduate, the value of any service I provide to a client is in the creative thinking, and the creative work. It is so important to protect each and every idea, sketch, rendering, floor plan and digital design through Intellectual Property (IP) rights. The most common IP right is copyright. It’s also the cheapest because it’s free! In Australia, copyright protection is automatic as long as the work is original and falls within one of the categories of protected material such as artistic works, like music, photography or content on a website. Copyright owners are advised to take a proactive approach to claiming their copyright by placing a copyright notice in a prominent place on their work. The copyright notice might include the © symbol, the name of the creator and the year the work was created. This gives others a clear signal that you claim that IP under copyright. (IP Australia: Australian Government, 2016)
Design registration on the other hand, protects designs which have an industrial or commercial use. A design refers to the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation which give a product its unique appearance. There are two stages to registering your design. The first is to submit your application and the second is to have your design examined, which is optional. For a design right to be enforceable the design must be both new and distinctive. Unlike copyright, you will need to apply to IP Australia to register the design and, if you wish to enforce your rights, you will need to have your design examined and certified. If your design meets the criteria at examination, you will be provided with a certificate of examination. Design registration provides an initial protection term of five years that can be extended up to 10 years.
The application process should be easy enough if you take the time to educate yourself on the process and requirements; otherwise working with an IP attorney is recommended.  There is one golden rule to remember - do not publish or exhibit your design anywhere before you apply. This means no mention on websites, Instagram, Facebook (or any other social media site), magazines or in exhibitions. Once you start marketing or manufacturing your design, you may forgo any chance of registering the design. (IP Australia: Australian Government, 2016)
The same laws apply when protecting the rights of your business. In this instance, you require a strong Client Agreement with a well-drafted Contractual Agreement (terms and conditions/budget/privacy).
The Client Agreement is usually made up of 2 parts:
  • a Proposal setting out the scope of the services and any products to be provided; and
  • the Contractual agreement setting out the terms and conditions, budget, legalities and privacy issues which need to be addressed.
It is important for both the interior designer and the client to have a clear understanding of how the work and services will be carried out and what will happen if something goes wrong or if deadlines cannot be met. This should be set out in the Client Agreement, which will help ensure that you can enforce your rights in the event of any dispute, and help you protect and strengthen your business in general.
Once all relevant intellectual property rights and contractual obligations are set in place, the next phase is to read up on what Australian Standards are required to proceed with the job ahead. This would usually begin with relevant Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Acts and Regulations, because when redesigning and renovating a property, you usually demolish something first so you need to be prepared In saying this, the Australian Standards, including the Building Codes Authority (BCA) should be implemented in conjunction with all WHS Acts and Regulations whilst on-site.
All designers have a duty to comply with s.22 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the design is without risks to health and safety. Designers also have to comply with s.274 of the same act, concerning duty of care to themselves, clients, all workmen and women and anyone else entering the property. This means hard hat, steel-capped boots and safety gear when anyone (client, designer, builder) is on-site as one example. Of course it means a whole host of other requirements as well, which can be found on the Work Cover Queensland link below. In the same breath, all designers have extensive duties arising from s.295 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, one of which is where the designer must give a safety report to person who commissions the design. Further information regarding s.295 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations can be obtained from Work Cover Queensland.
Further to these laws, there is the National Construction Code (NCC) 2016 Complete Series (including Amendment 1), which contains NCC 2016 Volume One Amendment 1, Volume Two, Volume Three, The Guide Amendment 1 and the Consolidated Performance Requirements Amendment 1. The series is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia, which all designers and builders alike must comply with. The complete set of codes allows for variations in climate and geological or geographic conditions.
Volume One Amendment 1: contains the requirements for Class 2 to 9 (multi-residential, commercial, industrial and public) buildings and structures. Volume Two: contains the requirements for Class 1 (residential) and Class 10 (non-habitable) buildings and structures. Volume Three: contains the requirements for plumbing and drainage for all classes of buildings. The Guide to Volume One Amendment 1: a companion manual to Volume One, which contains the requirements for Class 2 to 9 (multi-residential, commercial and industrial and public) buildings and structures. The Guide provides clarification, illustration and examples for complex NCC provisions and should be read in conjunction with NCC 2016 Volume One Amendment 1. Consolidated Performance Requirements Amendment 1: provides a compilation of all NCC Performance Requirements and the supporting General Requirements in a single document.
Speaking of climate and geographical conditions, there is also (and finally) a set of standards for assessing the environmental impact of a property. Your Home, part of an Australian Government initiative for Australia's guide for environmentally sustainable homes is the go to resource for finding out information about designing homes to suit a particular climate zone in Australia through the utilisation of natural resources and sustainable materials on offer. For example, energy efficiency standards were added to the Building Code of Australia in 2003 and have been progressively increased over time; water efficiency requirements have been introduced in a number of jurisdictions. Their website is a wealth of information and downloads to assist with any designers decision-making process. Or you can purchase their book! Either way, Your Home is invaluable!
Thank you for popping by to have a look at the ins and outs of being an Interior Designer. I hope you've enjoyed browsing and come back again soon.