What Is Interior Design?

By David Yoshikawa

The definition for interior design provided by The National Interior Design Qualification is given as 'a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive'. However, the statement above contradicts the definitions offered by The Free Dictionary for an interior decorator as follows: 'also called interior designer a person whose profession is the planning of the decoration and furnishings of the interior of houses, shops, etc.' and 'a person whose profession is the painting and wallpapering of houses'.

Well it is understandable, based on the two definitions above, why there are two camps. There are those that refer an interior designer as a highly qualified professional than an interior decorator, and then there are those that treat them as one and the same. No wonder there is misunderstanding amongst the ranks.

In an attempt to evaluate whether there is a diference or not?, the term 'Interior Decorator Degree' was searched on Google and the search engine returned results for 'Interior Designer' and not the keyword as searched. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that there is a difference as one can obtain a degree in interior design but not as an interior decorator.

So where would one draw the line between an interior designer and a decorator? Reverting back to the two definitions above one can discern the key difference. The key discerning activity of an interior designer is 'built interior environment' and for an interior decorator is 'decorating and furnishing' from the definitions. The role of an interior designer involve structural modification such as tearing down walls, flooring, windows, lighting, electrical and recommending furniture and miscellaneous design pieces. In short, the scope of the designer includes the responsibilities of a decorator, but goes much further.

It is crucial for the interior designer to thoroughly consult the individual or company leadership to understand their needs and delivery beyond their expectations.

As you can understand, their job can be very challenging as they will need to be able to devise a design not only for small dwelling spaces but also for large corporate businesses such as national restaurant chain. Hiring of contractors to do specific task such as pulling down walls, knowledge of building codes, reading blueprints are some of the task designers need a firm grasp on and further separate interior design from mere decoration.

What is interior design in contemporary society should involve ways to minimize harm to the environment by incorporating renewable energy sources and thinking green. How does one create areas with a lot of natural lighting but not subject the individual to the blazing rays of the sun? What is the best way to incorporate solar powered floor heaters in colder climates without compromising the esthetic charm and ambiance of marble floors? These are some of the obstacles that our interior designers today need to overcome.

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