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If your idea of an interior designer is someone who enhances the aesthetic appeal of indoor spaces by picking out the right furniture and fabric, you are not far off, but there is so much more to the role. An interior designer can completely change the mood and feel of a space and affect the way we live, work, play, and even heal. The best interior designers make it all look very easy.
As the industry evolves, interior designers have started redefining their roles. Clients range from homeowners to real estate companies, and the spaces designed are equally varied - from simple home environments to lavish hotels. Despite the progress, there are many misconceptions about what interior designers actually do! Let’s begin by debunking the most common myth about this role.
Many people use ‘interior designer’ and ‘interior decorator’ interchangeably, but they are in fact, very different.
The main goal of an interior designer is to improve the accessibility, functionality, and aesthetic appeal of a space while meeting the specific needs of each client. Interior designers are concerned with every aspect of the interior design process including layout, budget, time restraints, and area restrictions. They work closely with architects and contractors while adhering to regulatory requirements.
An interior decorator, on the other hand, works on dressing an interior space using paint, furnishings, wallpapers, floors, and window coverings. They work with their clients and advise them on styles that would look best for the space. Decorators are often bought in to spruce up an existing space that needs to be renovated or updated. Most often, an interior decorator need not obtain a licence to practice.
While interior designers can both design and decorate, interior decorators can only decorate.
The role of an interior designer has changed dramatically since it emerged as a profession in the early 20th century. Interior designing is a broad field with many potential specialisations that go beyond the simple design tasks of enhancing the quality of interior spaces. Everything that interior designers do is rooted in methodology, research, analysis, and planning. As such, there is an ocean of career opportunities in the industry to choose from:
The job of an interior designer is not a cakewalk. While one may be familiar with the basic work of an interior designer, any one day can be drastically different from the other and is usually packed with a lot of excitement, from picking out glorious colour palettes to carrying around tiles, here is a good idea of a typical day in the life of an interior designer:
At the very onset, interior designers have a consultation with their clients to discuss their views on the initial design concepts, budget, deadline, product, material specifications, and to find what the client wants and needs. This can take anywhere between a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the type of project.
The work proposal consists of analysing the purpose and function of a space to ensure that the design meets the requirement of the client. This comprises creating a detailed design board that takes into consideration the functionality aspect of spaces. This step also involves developing project timelines and estimating costs. The proposal is then presented to the client for further revision. When clients approve the proposals, designers can move to the next stage.
At this stage, interior designers prepare detailed blueprints and 3D scale models and show samples of the colour scheme, materials, lighting, and soft furnishing that they recommend. As part of the process, an interior designer must be aware of and comply with all codes related to health and safety as well as building regulations and installations.
An interior designer’s role is multifaceted, and they work with a range of different professions, including contractors, architects, engineers, homeowners, businesses, etc. The suppliers provide the raw materials needed for the project, such as tiles, fabrics, and furniture while contractors provide renovation services such as carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. Interior designers need to be able to communicate effectively with the suppliers and contractors to avoid any mistakes during the process.
Once designs are approved, the real task is to find, customise and purchase the required items. This step includes scouting and ordering accessories and materials for projects including lighting, furniture, paint, flooring, accessories, window treatments, etc. Designers have to make sure that all costs fall within the client’s budget. A thorough understanding of the sourcing and procurement process is critical to ensuring client satisfaction.
Bringing the entire project to life requires several months of hard work. Project management is one of the most important parts of an interior designer’s work. This includes overseeing the contractors and architects to make sure that the designs are followed correctly. The success of a project depends on creating a space that works well as well as looks amazing, all as per the client’s requirements.
Interior design is not only about how we experience spaces. Interior designers have to deal with a number of problems, such as material shortages, missing deadlines, going over budget, electrical surprises, builders who won’t cooperate, and clients who can change their minds in the middle of a project. As we saw, the work environment of an interior designer is never constant and involves visiting client homes, construction sites, meeting suppliers, and scouting for raw materials. At the same time, there is a lot of variety in the workday for an interior designer, and many steps and skills come together to make the design a success.
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