We’ve all heard of interior designers, and some of us have even hired one to work on our homes, but for those of us who have not, what an interior designer actually does is a bit of a mystery.
Put simply, an interior designer is a person who sees a room and comes up with a way to make it as stylish and as functional as possible. Some may prefer function over style, other vice-versa; but this matter is up to the specifications of the client. It is tempting to think that anyone could become an interior designer, as many think that the only thing required is an ‘eye’ for design. This, however, isn’t the case at all, and there is actually a British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) that oversees the profession and facilitates best practice.
So, what constitutes best practice? First and foremost should be the interior designer’s Code of Conduct, which should follow something akin to the BIID’s Code of Conduct and ensure a professional standard of work all the way through a project from beginning to end. This means a project should comply with health and safety standards, be completed within a reasonable time frame, and, the interior designer should generally act responsibly with regards to the client, other interior designers and the public at large.
Now, on to the nitty-gritty: the job description. As stated earlier, many like to think that they have a good eye for design and are somewhat artistic, so fancy themselves a job as an interior designer. To some extent, such people are correct in thinking so, hence the lack of job description beyond what is required for many jobs (working to a brief, planning, negotiating contracts, and so forth). This is why having a Code of Conduct on public display is important: it separates those who know what is required of an interior designer and those who don’t.
Another reason for a lack of definitive job description is because interior design is an interdisciplinary field, drawing together a wide range of subject areas including architecture, lighting design, decorating, concept development, industrial design, and so on – an interior designer’s job description draws together elements of all these other jobs. Yet at the same time, it is none of these jobs, and it is best not to confuse the job of an interior designer with these jobs as they are overlapping, but distinct.
So what makes an interior designer’s job description distinct? The answer is the job’s focus on function: how does one make the room as useful as possible for a particular job? Unlike a decorator, the designer must look at specific technical issues like temperature, lighting and acoustics, while also complying with the client’s brief when it comes to the remodelling and/or decorating of a room.
This focus on function is important, as it is also what separates the commercial side of interior design from the residential side of interior design. While many interior designers will work in commercial and residential spheres, with both areas requiring similar skill sets (talent for drawing, spatial awareness, a meticulous nature, and a detailed knowledge of art and design), they have uniquely different purposes. For example, brand awareness and placing logos in the right places isn’t going to be important for a private home, but could be all-important for a retail outlet.
See the clever ways in which supermarkets or huge shopping centres try to keep you inside the building and spend money? See the Las Vegas casinos that confuses the boundaries between night and day, giving the impression that no time has passed? See how the Google offices are set out? All the work of interior designers.