What is interior design?

“Interior design is 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. Designs are created in response to and coordinated with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements, and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability. The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfills the project goals.”

-       Definition by the National Council of Interior Design Qualification.

What is the difference between Interior Designers & Interior Decorators?

Interior designers are responsible for a wide variety of tasks including: organizing a space to fit its function, ensuring that designs are in compliance with building and safety codes, including managing construction and installation of a design. A designer is also responsible for selecting and specifying fixtures, furnishings, products, materials and colors.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) defines the interior designer as one who “is professionally trained to create a functional and quality interior environment. Qualified through education, experience and examination, a professional designer can identify research and creatively resolve issues and lead to a healthy, safe and comfortable physical environment.” At its heart, interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior in order to create functional spaces within the structures that architects design.

Interior decorators are primarily concerned with surface decoration – paint, furnishings, lighting and other materials. Decoration is often characterized as the furnishing or adoring of a space. For example, when selecting a floor covering, an interior decorator will probably be responsible for choosing the type, color, texture and pattern. The interior designer will make the selection based on those criteria with an additional consideration of type usage, sound transference, acoustic properties, flammability, off-gassing properties, static electricity and slip resistance.

When should I hire an Interior Designer?

When the space is enclosed in a complete “shell” of a building. This means all exterior penetrations of the building are finished and no work is needed for project goals. If other design professionals such as an architect and/or engineer have been retained, hire the designer shortly afterwards. The designer and architect will work closely to create the interior spaces. The designer will prepare the interior construction drawings to be integrated into the architect’s drawings for pricing and permitting.

If I hired an architect, do I need an Interior Designer too?

Consult with your architect to determine if they will also designing the interior environment. This will include space planning, architectural finish selections, lighting specifications, furniture selections and/or purchasing.

Many architects prefer the client to hire an interior designer to compliment the architectural design. Specific training and experience in interior design can greatly enhance an architectural project.

What is the design process?

The process begins with the need or desire to build or change an interior environment. The interior designer will meet with a client to determine the goals of the project. This will include, but not limited to, reviewing the spaces’ potential & limitations, how the space will be used, meaning of the space, practical requirements, safety or special needs. The designer will also ask you to describe how the space should “feel” or be perceived by your client’s, staff or family.

The scope of the project will be outlined, a budget discussed and designer services determined to create a proposal. Upon approval, the designer will create a presentation for you including a floor plan, wall elevations, special millwork features, lighting, furniture and finishes. This is considered a preliminary concept and a time for open discussion of ideas. It is a collaborative process between client and designer to ensure the design develops into reality.

The designer will continue formalizing the design specifics and incorporate any new suggestions into a final design presentation. Upon final approvals, the designer will begin the construction documents. Other professional consults may be included during this process. They include MEP Engineers (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire), Lighting Consultants, Structural Engineer, Acoustical Engineer, Landscape Designer/Architect.

Once the working drawings are complete, the interior designer will sign and seal for the interior construction, combine other consultant work to the set and forward to your general contactor for pricing and permitting.

The designer supervises the construction site and will advise you as to the progress of construction. The designer will visit the job site and meet with the contractor to confirm the project is being built as designed. Toward the completion of construction, the designer will create a “punch list” of items for the contractor to complete which will outline for all parties incomplete construction items. The space is then professional cleaned and ready for installation of furniture and artwork.