Some think interior design is all about selecting wallpaper and playing with fabrics and furnishings and most confuse interior design with interior decorating. While these two professions are very similar and there is a lot of overlap, there are a few key differences which require a different set of skills, training, qualifications and expertise.
The role of a qualified interior designer is often misunderstood, in the past I have been called a cushion tosser and it took all my might to not respond rudely; it was tempting as I had some REALLY good responses using the word tosser lined up but thought it better to keep them to myself! Let me use this opportunity to speak freely on this matter; and squash what you think we do Vs what we actually do……to avoid any future confusion!
An interior designer works closely with other consultants such as the Architects and Mechanical and Electrical engineers to design the interior space and has a good amount of experience within the construction field, considering building codes, fire safety, structure and accessibility to name a few. While decoration or decorating, on the other hand, is the furnishing of a space, don’t get me wrong I am not underplaying the role of an interior decorator, this also requires a great eye for detail in bringing a scheme together and getting the balance right.
Interior design is the science of understanding behaviors to help create functional spaces, and yes as an interior designer I do select fabrics and furnishings however this is a very minor part of the job. Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants’ quality of life and culture. Designs respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, as most interior designers work closely with the Architect it is often required to follow the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) work stages through the project completion.
Depending on your field, the role of an interior designer can vary quite significantly; for example I work in hospitality design and so the role is often more complex than that of a residential designer (I have done both, so I speak from experience) There are more elements to consider, more coordination with other disciplines, more regulations and guidelines, more hoops to jump through and more people to please!
Although interior designers and interior decorators do many of the same things, there is a difference in the amount of training each title holds, in addition to the scope of services each professional is qualified to provide, for example an interior decorator is unlikely to be hired for commercial or hospitality projects and more likely for private residential projects. Like any profession to be able to call yourself an Interior Designer requires that you be qualified, I mean, you wouldn’t call yourself a F1 driver just because you are good at Mario Cart would you?……. that said Degrees are not cheap and there is no one certifying individuals on their creativity, you can be educated up to the eyeballs but that just means that you have been taught to know what to do, creativity is not something that can be taught.
If you are struggling to decide if you need an interior decorator or an interior designer; well this all depends on your requirements and once you know this, then you need to go through the task of deciding who and this should really be based on the persons or companies portfolio, if you are wanting a modern look then you probably don’t want someone who works on heritage projects and visa versa and importantly your connection with that person should be considered, as they will be in your life and home for a while and to get the best result the designer will need to get to know you and how your home needs to function.
I will leave you with my all time most buggery bugbear, when people say “oh you’re an Interior Designer, how lovely; you know I have often thought about doing that, I did my own home you know”……. que the steam pummeling out of my ears as I attempt to force a calm smile and say “oh yes”. I know that people don’t mean any offence when they say this, and I think I can speak on behalf of the whole professional designer community when I say that honestly people it bugs us……. like really REALLY bugs us!