The state of Georgia first recognized the professional practice of interior design in 1992 with the passage of HB 43. As a result, business owners and other individuals in Georgia seeking qualified professionals to assist with their interior design projects have a greater ability to select the most qualified person for a particular project and one which provides the greatest value. The interior design law in Georgia defines interior design services, making clearer the lines of overlap and separation between those of interior designers and architects. Independent, unregistered interior designers, decorators or kitchen and bath designers maintain the same rights that they have always enjoyed to design projects.
When an interior designer works in a firm under a registered architect who stamps and seals the construction drawings for permitting, the architect assumes professional responsibility for directing project work and for protecting the public interests with regard to health, safety and welfare.
While the main purpose of the professional registration law for Registered Interior Designers is to protect the public health, safety and welfare, Georgia’s current law provides important benefits for interior designers who practice commercial design and are registered. These benefits include the use of the title "Registered Interior Designer", which indicates a specified level of professional knowledge-base gained through education, experience, testing and continuing education that equips them to practice interior design in the code-impacted environment. It also includes the ability to stamp, sign and seal drawings for construction for projects which meet certain parameters. A registered interior designer may independently contract for and be responsible for nonstructural interiors work on many types of interiors projects including businesses, restaurants, hotels, clubs, museums, stores and other types of facilities.
On June 2, 2010, Georgia passed legislation which provided that Georgia's Registered Interior Designers are permitted to have a professional seal. If practicing independently, such designers will be required to seal and sign their interior construction documents that will be submitted for building permits. The traditional use of a stamp seal is much more familiar to building officials than the previously used letter of certification. The signed seal indicates that the Registered Interior Designer assumes responsibility for the life safety elements of interiors documents and certifies that they comply with applicable laws, codes and ordinances. Registered interior designers may still contract with an architect experienced in such project types to mentor and work with them and to prepare or review and seal their drawings.
Projects beyond the Interior Designer's level of professional knowledge should include coordination of the work with other registered design professionals. Registered Interior Designers are required to collaborate with engineers or/and an architect, as appropriate, for work beyond interior design scope and expertise, including modifications to the building shell, structural work, or other building systems work such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing or fire protection systems. The Registered Interior Designer is required to coordinate project work with that of the engineers’ and architects’ documents. All the documents may be combined to complete the construction document set for permitting and construction.
More Interior designers are recognizing the value of registration as a means to distinguish themselves as design professionals recognized as individuals with a high level of design knowledge and expertise and to have the state and their clients recognize their responsibility for and impact on code -impacted environments with regard to the health, safety and welfare of their clients’ and the lives of project end-users and the public at large.