What Exactly Does an Interior Designer Do?
By: Anna Popov
What Exactly Does an Interior Designer Do?
By: Anna Popov
People all over the world work with interior designers to breathe life, beauty and carefully executed efficiency into their design projects. Whether you’re designing a single room, completely making over your entire home, or starting from the ground up, working with a residential interior designer can be the key to achieving the space of your dreams. So, what exactly does an Interior Designer Do I hear you ask? We have the answers.
The technical definition, according to the Council for Interior Design Qualification, states that interior design is a distinct profession with specialized knowledge applied to the planning and design of interior environments. These designs promote improved lifestyle, health, safety and welfare all while supporting and enhancing the human experience. In IBP’s eyes, it is one of those elusive professions that marries creativity and technicality in such a dynamic way; every day is a mix of color schemes and building codes, decorative elements and technical specifications and we LOVE it! Using our experience to bring dreams to life through analysis, planning, design, and full project management is our day-to-day business. Still confused? Let’s break it down and tell you exactly what an interior designer does. Let’s get started with one of the first questions most people have. What is the difference between a designer and a decorator? Here’s the deal.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INTERIOR DESIGNER AND AN INTERIOR DECORATOR?
People often use the terms interior designer and interior decorators interchangeably when in fact they are quite different. Essentially, interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. On the other hand, interior decorating is the act of furnishing or adorning a space with fashionable or beautiful things. While decorators beautify spaces, designers are much more involved in projects, making spaces livable while also being aesthetically pleasing. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.
There are some key differences between designers and decorators and the most common misconception lies in the level of technicality. Decorators concentrate solely on elevating the look of an existing space. They do so through incorporating colors, selecting and placing unique furniture, and adding elements like art to an existing space.
While interior designers also do the same work as decorators, their main job is much more technical and begins earlier on. Interior designers work on in-depth technical aspects of building structures. From moving interior walls to dictating the change of plumbing, mechanical and electrical, they are able to come into a space and design it from the ground up to make the space functional and beautiful. Perhaps changing the title from “interior designer” to “interior architect” might give a better understanding of what interiors designers do.
HOW INTERIOR DESIGNERS MARRY CREATIVITY WITH EXECUTION
A successful interior design firm has mastered the ability to take big dreams and execute them with the original design intent and project budget at the forefront. Marrying creativity with execution is no easy task. It takes talent, experience and strong project management skills and can be one of the main ways to differentiate interior design firms from one another. The creative aspect of design is a beautiful blend of chaos and art, and the best design firms out there are the ones that do this well. The ones that can balance, stay calm, focus on solutions and forward movement while upholding those big dreams that the clients laid at their door. It is quite the honor to be chosen to help a family reach the goals they have for their home. Residential interior design is very personal to the homeowners that reach out for these services. Often times this is a passion project for them and finding a designer that you can trust, rely on and be inspired by is so much of what this is all about.
The creative design phase is only part of the process; proper execution of that project is a whole other phase and needs to be handled just as carefully. Most designers will tell you there is nothing particularly dreamy about filling in purchase orders or specifying technical details for plumbing fixtures for example, but seeing a design scheme through to fruition is such a joy. Seeing homeowners move back in having been there every step of the way makes this job our passion project! We treat it like that, and it shows in the end results. In our opinion, the only way to have a successful design practice is to possess the ability to combine these skills in a way that is relatable, consistent, and professional.
WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED TO BE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
Starting out on the path to becoming an interior designer can be sparked in many ways but the main interest usually comes from curiosity in relation to the world we live in and how we live in it. Interior designers need to be attuned to the environment that people live in and how that can be enhanced and augmented in specific ways. It is a very individual journey that involves getting to know the wants and needs of your client in a deep way. You have to be patient, empathetic, and detailed so you can translate those client goals into a functional and supportive home that is also attractive and soothing to the eye. Spatial awareness and vision are one of the main skills that usually set a designer aside. We hear all the time from people who feel they know what they want but cannot visualize it and see how it might end up. One of our main jobs is to ascertain that vision, see it for our clients and hold it true right to end. Let’s break it down.
Creativity and Technical Ability
We are creative idea generators when it comes to interior design. We always have thought outside the box, find creative solutions, and forge a path using our vision and knowledge. We love beautiful finishes, details, textures, art, lighting, comfort and above all functionality. We use our visual vocabulary to inform our design work. We also spend time researching, gathering inspiration, discovering new finishes and product developments. We need to understand technical details and be able to create that in AutoCAD or Rhino or similar software. We need to understand scale, proportion, building systems, construction and engineering terminology and we are constantly learning. The best designers are those that create design solutions that respond to and coordinate with the building shell and architectural style. Our creative and technical prowess wears many hats.
Communication and Interpersonal Skills
So much of what a designer does requires building relationships. Whether it be with our clients, contractors, consultants, vendors, specialists, and each other. Collaboration is non-negotiable; designers must be excellent team leaders as well as team players. We also need to be able to communicate visually. Our clients need to be able to see the vision, with mood boards, 3D renderings, photography, and samples in order to buy in. Creating that visual connection to a design scheme is imperative
We know that design is a linear process, we know all the steps and we know that we will have to deviate and swerve along the way, that is construction and design. Designers need to have solid processes to keep everything organized and have efficient workflow. Working on multiple projects at any given time with individual deadlines and requirements whilst also looking for the next projects to work on means that there has to be a solid business plan with administrative back-up. However, even the best laid plans can hit bumps so keeping calm and focused on finding solutions is always the best way.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF INTERIOR DESIGN?
If there is one thing, we designers have gained from the tough time we went through during the pandemic, it is that people have developed a stronger understanding of the connection their home has to their lives. Wanting a space that can support your daily life, tasks and lifestyle, for everyone in the family has become more of a priority and that is right where we come in. The future of interior design is about integration of life and environment. Trends and fads will come and go but focus on the home as a way to enhance your life is here to stay. We are thrilled about that. Whether it is deciding to purchase that soft throw blanket that will make your evening snuggles with the kids more enjoyable or building your own in-home movie theater with all the bells and whistles, we think interior design will become more about quality and longevity at home than the throw away culture observed in the past.
DO I NEED AN ARCHITECT OR AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
This is a complicated question, and the answer is that designers and architects can be interchangeable in many of their skills. Architects have a deeper understanding of the physical building structure. Their expertise is invaluable if you are building a home from scratch. Ours is invaluable if you want to make sure that the building will support your daily life and be planned inside to the best it can be. Not all architects have a design focus so choosing the right one for your project is very important. We work closely with our architect partners when we need their skills and expertise, and we offer the same to them. Deciding whether you need an architect, interior designer or both is project specific. For new construction, an architect may be needed whereas remodels and renovations can likely be handled by a design firm with technical leanings.
HOW INTERIORS BY POPOV STANDS OUT
We are subject matter specialists. We unify form, function and substance in a human way. Our methodology combines our exceptional creative abilities with deep technical knowledge so that we adhere to the exacting standards we set forth for ourselves. At Interiors by Popov we excel in marrying the left side and right side of the brain. We are confident in our process. Our ‘roadmap” and desire to delve deep into the ways in which our clients want to live is truly what differentiates our firm from the competition. We begin each project with a design consultation so that we can walk through the home and really get a feel for it. We determine the scope of work, brainstorming some ideas for the space whilst keeping both aesthetics and functionality in mind. We review our process and services and pride ourselves on being fully transparent with our clients. Take a look at our portfolio, there you will see the proof that through our hard work, creative approach and carefully executed processes we have been able to create incredible living spaces.
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