Merger matters: The historic merger between the country’s two leading interior design associations in the Malaysian Society of Interior Designers (MSID) and Institut Perekabentuk Dalaman Malaysia (IPDM) has made industry headlines
The industry has spoken. United in one voice, the interior design profession now has a greater reason to celebrate since it will now be represented by a single body in the newly formed Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID) or Pertubuhan Perekabentuk Dalaman Malaysia (PPDM). Creating history by the sheer force of two of the nation’s leading interior design associations in the Malaysian Society of Interior Designers (MSID) and Institut Perekabentuk Dalaman Malaysia (IPDM) coming together to join forces, the merger is viewed positively by both associations as timely and in keeping up with the times.
Viewed as a common platform now representing the unified voice of the interior design profession in Malaysia, the resulting merger in the newly formed MIID is poised for greater heights of achievement. The results of the merger are already triple-fold – with a common unified platform, increased membership and combined international affiliations as varied as the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) and the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) acknowledging MIID and, incidentally, forming the first fruits of the union that are immediately apparent.
Stronger, better & more effective:Founding president of MSID Majidah Majid is familiar with processes involved in establishing a new association, having founded the country’s first interior design association in MSID back in 1989, that was established and registered in 1990 as the first association established for interior designers in Malaysia.
“I had wanted to set up an association with several interior designers since 1975 but it had never worked out until I met Susan Suah, Toh Chee Lip, Mohamad Faisal Ghazali, Ronnie Choong, Bakar Ibrahim and Jane Ho. We launched MSID and set up our own office in Dayabumi in 1998 until the year 2011,” she recalls.
This woman of foresight who established the country’s first interior design association has to her credit remained dedicated without stepping out of the Council, having always been elected. MSID was affiliated with the IFI since 1993 and the Asia-Pacific Space Designers Association (APSDA) since 1990.
MSID milestones: Drawing upon the parallel of the realisation of the MIID merger to the challenges of establishing a new association, she nevertheless says that the dawn of the new merger will bring about a host of benefits that far outweigh the time, effort and energy invested by all parties involved.
“The merger is positive and is very encouraging for all including present and future interior designers as there is now one organisation instead of two bodies. It all happened after the IFI Congress in Copenhagen in Denmark in 2005. This was the time when both societies started to talk about the merger. After that, we formed a Pro Tem Committee made up of equal numbers of members from IPDM and MSID. We had to re-do our constitution and then we re-submitted everything to the Registrar of Societies (ROS). In the year 2007, the profession was legislated.” she shares.
“We started off with the merger meetings after the amendment of the Architects Act in 2007 under the Laws of Malaysia Act 117 which was gazette and ruled on 15 February 2007. Thereafter, we took about four years to form the new organisation. The Architects Act tabled in parliament in 2007 mentioned the profession of interior designers and they mentioned the recognition. The Act says that we must have one professional body to represent the interior design profession and the members in Malaysia and it all happened in the year 2007,” she elaborates.
Looking back, she recalls that the journey towards the merger was challenging as everyone was busy with their business and yet managed to put aside time for the realisation of this unified dream.
“Putting two groups of people together was not easy because we had to re-do the new constitution that was inclusive and even check on the new name of the new body because we cannot use a similar name to what was used before. We also had to get approval from our members to dissolve the society and merge with IPDM and we did this at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
“Only when we got the approval did we start talking about the Constitution because both bodies must get approval from their members.
“Once both associations got the approval from their members for the merger, the Pro Tem Committee was formed with equal numbers represented between the two bodies in the year 2006,” she shares of the steps leading to the finalisation of the merger.
After the formation of the Pro-Tem Committee, preparations were made for the new constitution to be submitted to ROS. This process took nearly two years before the constitution and merger was finally approved.
“The ROS also mentioned to us that the new body cannot exist until both professional bodies in IPDM and MSID close their offices. That is why we agreed to close our MSID office in December last year with IPDM also following suit at the same time. We now have a temporary office and will be moving to Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur after the launch,” she says.
Close collaboration with IPDM: Her views were echoed by Founding President of IPDM Ar. Hj Hussein Hamzah, director of Hussein & Loh Architects Sdn Bhd who was the founding president of IPDM. Hussein, who served IPDM in various roles including Past President and Council Member is also a Member of the Pro Tem Committee of MIID.
“The merger arose out of the common desire to establish a single organisation to represent all registered professional interior designers, academicians and interior design students of recognised Malaysian schools of interior design,” he says.
Recalling the early years when IPDM was formed as far back as 1990 by himself, Datuk Dr Kenneth Yeang, Ar. Chris Yap and Ar. Leow Sooi Choon who sat down to draft the constitution for the association, the first IPDM Pro Tem Council was formed in 1991 with Hussein as the President. IPDM was launched in 1992 by the then Minister of Works, Datuk Leo Moggie.
“In the early days, they laid the foundation for rules and regulations pertaining to the scale of professional fees, memorandum of client-interior design agreement, contract documentation and administration as well as the general running of a professional institute,” he recalls further.
Understanding that the process of forming the merger was not smooth-sailing all the way, he is nevertheless glad that all parties concerned persevered to bring to fruition the realisation of a dream.
“The two main challenges were instituting the registration of professional interior designers and the formation of an umbrella body in MIID to include all current members of IPDM and MSID,” shares Hussein.
“Once it was decided that we join forces, the two important steps mentioned above had to be completed.,” he shares.
Adding that the time is just ripe for the realisation of the merger, Hussein is confident that with the formation of MIID, the profession is made stronger and “more able to regulate members’ professional activities.”
Acknowledging that the strength of any professional body lies with its membership, he adds that now, registered professionals can only be remunerated by set fees for work carried out.
“The public is protected by a strict set of rules and regulations pertaining to the practice of interior design. The public will know that all those registered by Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia (LAM) have the proper qualifications and experience to practise as interior designers. It has taken us more than a decade to finally get recognised as a profession. The consolidation of two interior design bodies into one association has been realized,” he reflects.
Two Presidents talk: Past president of MSID Ronnie Choong who led his second term of presidency in 2007 back then was in complete agreement with IPDM president Chris Yap Seng Chye in forming this merger. Putting into place the different strategies, both of them raised the pertinent issue of the merger at their respective council meetings. After discussions spanning a total of six years, the merger was finally materialised.
As the Pro Tem Chairman of MIID, Choong who is also a past Board Member of IFI attributes the merger to a strategic move as “previously the existence of two associations was confusing to the industry and public”.
“Because the two associations have the same objectives, we agreed that we should just have one single voice that speaks for all the interior designers in Malaysia. Also, when we have one single united voice, we are stronger and better able to represent the industry. From the end of 2006, we agreed on the merger and formalised the Pro Tem Committee to iron out the differences and looked at the model on how to have one single body to represent the association and to represent the interest of the two associations,” says Choong.
Chris Yap, Vice-Chairman of the MIID Pro Tem Committee who was the Past President of IPDM agrees that the merger augurs well for the industry because the “two institutes have become one to better represent the profession”.
“There are some very obvious advantages. We can speak as a stronger and more unified voice representing the interior design profession and at the same time, there will be less confusion instead of two institutes that are recognised by law.
“At the end of 2006, we decided to merge as we felt there should be only one association representing the interior design profession of which members can belong to instead of two associations. The process took six years because it had to address various sensitivities. The constitution had to encompass and address issues that were not only about the current state of the profession but also had to be able to address future and unforeseeable concerns. MIID is now a unification of both associations,” observes Yap.
The end result of the merger is obvious, with glowing reports coming from all quarters of not only the industry, but also industry partners and the public at large.
“Members are now more united and are able to speak with a stronger voice, thus giving added weight to the practice of interior design. With the legislation and the formation of MIID, interior design has taken on a new dimension of recognition in the sense that not only the members or interior design practitioners will benefit from this exercise, but also society as a whole in terms of professionalism and the delivery of interior projects. The regulation of the interior design practice through LAM since 2007 has made this possible,” sums up Yap.
Recalling the initiative to organise the sit-down meeting to kick off the merger in 2006 during both his and Choong’s respective presidency, Yap says they had come to a mutual agreement concerning a single interior design association.
“During my presidency in 2005, while IPDM and MSID were in the process of pushing for the legislation, I took the step to contact MSID and had a positive response from Choong who also had the same intention to want to have a joint body eventually. We initiated the merger process in 2006 but the effort to take it to the stage of fruition in MIID is due to the efforts of the respective Councils as well as the Past and Present Pro Tem Committee panel members. We feel a sense of relief that MIID is now a reality,” concludes Yap, reflecting on the process of setting the wheels in motion six years ago with the IPDM-MSID Pro Tem panel back then.
“Although the merger has happened now, it has been a challenging past few years before this when both IPDM and MSID were going through the process of ensuring that the interests of all members were addressed with the formation of this new institute. In addition to that, there was also the task of having to wind down both institutes that had been in existence for close to 20 years respectively with the transferring of the entire two set-ups into a common office.”
All said, with the merger in place, what started as a process six years ago has finally been realized, as if in the blink of an eye. And for that, the entire industry and public at large stands to benefit.
Pics courtesy of MISD and IPDM.