Now that I graduated from Uni and hold an Interior Design Degree (2:1) I believe I can speak freely. I don’t mean about how bad the uni was, but about what Interior Design actually is and what an Interior Designer is supposed to do.
Anyway, a lot of people used to ask me (and keep asking me) what I’m doing, like if I work or not. I usually tell them that “I am student” and they were very surprised and seemed interested to learn more about my studies. And I was surprised too, I don’t really expect people to show interest in studies in general. Anyhow, my response always was “I’m studying Interior Design” and after that I always received similar responses. “Wow, then decor must be your thing”. “It must be very nice to decorate houses”. “When I’ll paint my house, I’ll ask for your help”. “I want to buy a sofa do you know any good stores?”. “What colours should I paint my walls? I have blue curtains and accessories”.
Well, I know shops to find a sofa. I can tell you my personal opinion based on my personal taste about colours. I don’t like decorative objects. And well, I’m not an interior DECORATOR! Or an interior STYLIST. I am an Interior Designer. And I was never taught anything about sofas, cushion, curtains, etc. in Uni. I learnt about orientation, lighting, practicality, circulation, clever space solutions, doors, windows, ramps, stairs, lifts, corridors, fire exits to name but a few. Of course I shouldn’t forget all the fecking regulations about all the above and more like toilets, kitchens etc. I’m really sorry to disappoint you, but no, I don’t know anything about colour. I like white, I like natural finishes like wood, marble etc.
So what is an Interior Designer? How can an Interior Designer (ID) help you?
(This is just my personal opinion. I guess other people will say that an ID paint walls and choose your cushions.)
So let me tell you what I do. How my mind works.
An interior Designer is the one how will help people to improve their everyday life.
- An ID will ask you questions, will try to understand your needs now and in the future.
- An ID then will try to find ways for you to use your space in the most efficient way.
- An ID will spot problems, will ask more questions and will try to find solutions.
For example, let’s say that a couple bought their first apartment which has 1 bedroom and a huge living room but a small kitchen. Let’s now say that this couple have a baby. What are they going to do? Are they going to move? And if they love their house? Or they can’t move for some reasons? What should they do?
Well, they should go to an Interior Designer. The Interior designer will ask them what are their needs. They need a second bedroom for the baby of course. They also need a bigger kitchen cause they have started cooking lessons and they want to spend more time in there.
Then the Interior Designer will survey the apartment, will ask for the plans. But most of the times the houses are not as they appear on papers. Architect don’t really follow them 100%. They just need the plans for the building permit. Therefore, an Interior Designer will have to make plans. Plans for the space, the windows, the doors, the columns, the beams, the sockets, the radiators, the different floor materials, the taps, the electric appliances etc. etc.
After that the ID will take the plan and will transfer it on AutoCad, a computer program. Will make a lot of copies and will try to figure out how to rearrange the spaces in the house in order to create a 2nd bedroom and a bigger kitchen.
Now this might sound easy, but actually isn’t.
As I said previously REGULATIONS. It doesn’t really matter if the ID has amazing ideas, everything must comply with the regulations.
Another thing is fittings. If the couple already has furniture and they want to keep them. The ID needs to know the measurements and fit them in the house too. If they want to change the furniture, then the ID will have to search for furniture to comply with the couple’s budget.
The same goes to the kitchen. With new cabinets, new tiles etc etc… and above all, practicality.
There is no point to hire a designer to design an amazing kitchen but to be a pain to use. Like for example the fridge to be like in another almost room and the sink like 3 meters away and another 3 meters the surface you prepare the food. There are rules when a designer designs a kitchen. It’s not like put the sink here, the island there, the fridge there and we are ok.
But let me tell you a secret, this is how most of the architects designing houses, without asking interior designers. Architects make houses that are difficult to use and live in them. But that’s a whole other story.
Anyway, designing a house is about designing a better life. Designing spaces where people can rest, relax or spend time together have fun. Spaces where the everyday life is easier and not hard to live. If a person lives in an old terraced house and can’t use the stairs (or move) will need a WC downstairs. Therefore, they will need an interior designer.
On the other hand, if the couple of the example above didn’t have a problem with space, but with the atmosphere of the space and the mood. And they wanted to feel like they live in The Hamptons, they shouldn’t hire an Interior Designer but rather an Interior Stylist.
Interior Designer and Mood Creator
An ID will also design restaurant, pubs, bars, shops, public spaces like museums, libraries etc.
Sometimes the brief to design these kind of spaces, isn’t only about purely practicality. For example, the brief for a Chinese restaurant could be something like, Chinese inspired decor with privacy from table to table. Or it could be called just an intimate environment.
Then, the ID, will have to find practical (clever and creative) solutions, to match the Chinese theme.
This doesn’t mean dragon statues, or golden Buddhas and stuff. That’s decor not design. It means low lighting, maybe dark colours, natural materials etc.
Ok, this wasn’t exactly and guide or a list of what Interior Design is and what an interior designer does. But I hope you have a clearer image in your head and you can understand the difference between interior decor and interior design.
Interior Design is about designing a better life for you, not about creating a more beautiful life for you.