What really is interior design?

Good interior design adds a new dimension to a space.
It can increase our efficiency in the way we go about our daily lives and it adds depth, understanding and meaning to the built environment.

Thoughtful and well-crafted design makes a space easier to understand and experiencing such a space lifts the spirit, too. It is, therefore, not just about the aesthetic; it is a practical and philosophical discipline.
Beautiful spaces betray a logical and rational questioning of the status quo and can be an honest attempt to find new and exciting ways to lead our lives.

There is often some confusion between the terms ‘interior architecture’, ‘interior design’ and ‘interior decoration’.
What is the distinction between the different professions?

In truth, the distinctions are not absolute. Where boundaries are drawn depends upon several factors. In a professional sense, it may well come down to a matter of which country the designer is working in (or perhaps more properly, which regulatory system the designer is working under).

Though not definitive, the explanations below give an indication of the different roles and responsibilities of those whose work involves the design of habitable space.

Architects use planes (walls, floors, ceilings) to define the volumes (spaces) that combine to make up a building. They are trained to design structures from scratch. They will take intellectual and practical considerations into account, and the building design will be informed by its location. Some architects will limit their involvement in this, while others will also plan furniture layouts in detail and create decorative schemes.

Interior architects are generally concerned with taking existing structures and reforming them to suit new functions.
They will pay a great deal of regard to the previous life of a building, and usually allow this knowledge to provide some connection between the fabric of the building and the newly created interior.

Interior decorators generally work with existing spaces that do not require physical alteration. Through the use of colour, light and surface finish, they will transform the look of a space, perhaps making it suitable to function in a different way from that for which it was originally designed, but with very little or no change to the structure of the building.

Interior designers span the ground between interior architects and interior decorators. The scope of the projects undertaken will vary from the purely decorative, to ones where a great deal of structural change is required to meet the brief. An interior designer will competently handle the space planning and creation of decorative schemes at the same time as considering major structural changes.
None of these professionals will necessarily be experts in all aspects of a project, and will call on other specialists (such as structural engineers or lighting designers) to help fully realize their ideas.

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