To say that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the interior design profession is an understatement. Between state to state variances in licensing legislation and the glaring underexposure of commercial design in the blogging world, there is more confusion than ever on what interior design actually is. Do interior designers and interior decorators do the same thing? What is the difference between the role of architect and an interior designer? What on earth is an interior stylist?
While I promise to get into the semantics of these questions in later posts, I wanted to begin with a quick personal view on the topic and share why I chose this wonderful profession in the first place.
To me, interior design is the convergence of architecture and industrial design. It is the connecting agent between those who create objects and those who create volumes of space. While an industrial designer thinks from the inside out, focusing on a specific object, an architect things from the outside in, shaping the built environment.
Interior designers do a little of both. They must be able to understand nuances of detail at a small scale and use their knowledge of environmental psychology and material usage to apply those details in a volume of space. In short, they must think inwards and outwards at the same time.
That being said, the lines between professions frequently blur. There are industrial designers who have designed fabulous interiors (Patricia Urquiola) and architects who have created incredible furniture pieces (Zaha Hadid). However, most projects require a division of expertise to get the job done well. In the office I work in now, design architects, technical architects, and interior designers collaborate because the amount of knowledge needed to do the job is too much for one person. Our offices specializes in large scale retail and mixed use commercial projects, and it is my job to select finishes/furniture and work with design architects to control how the space should look. Here's how it works in our office:
- Industrial Designer (out of office) Designs furniture pieces, products, and finishes that are suitable for a shopping center environment.
- Interior Designer (3% of our office) Selects furniture, finishes, and amenities that will hold up in a shopping center. Creates overall finish floor plans, furniture plans, and reflected ceiling plans to communicate solution. Works with design architects and project managers to develop a design scheme that will fit the developer's needs.
- Design Architect (27% of our office) Creates overall floor plan showing lease lines, corridor locations, restroom locations, and entries/exits. Makes sure that all fire and accessibility codes are met. Controls architectural details like skylights, fascias, and columns.
- Technical Architect (61% of our office) Makes sure the building stands up and won't flood when it rains. They control all structural aspects of the project and create detailed documents to communicate to contractors exactly how the building should be built.
As an new interior designer myself, I can happily say that I have found my fit in this profession. Architects and Industrial Designers think very differently and my brain computes somewhere in between. The relationship between a space and the things that fill it is what brings me joy and gets me excited about my job. It is the perfect convergence of my fascination with psychology and a creative urge to shape the world around me.
For this reason, I love what I do.