Interior Designer Vs Interior Architect: What Are The Key Differences?

Interior designers and interior Architects both have a role to play in turning raw structures into fully workable buildings and homes – but what are the key differences between the two professions, and how do these differ from the role of an Architect?

Let’s start with some definitions:

  • Architect: An Architect designs the external framework of a building, and the positioning of interior walls and weight-bearing structures. Architectural training covers both the structural and aesthetic elements required to create a functioning building.
  • Interior Architect: An interior Architect plans the allocation of space and the layout of an existing building or architectural drawing (designed by an Architect), focusing on the physical structure of the building’s interior. Interior Architects have a key role to play in renovations and refurbishments that leave the outer structure of the building more or less unchanged – and may advise on the positioning of new windows, stud walls, and internal structural elements. 
  • Interior designer: An interior designer plans the actual details of a building’s interior, including furnishings, colour schemes, paint and plaster work, flooring, choice of materials etc.

In practice, interior designers and interior Architects frequently work together to deliver an interior layout that matches the customer’s expectations and requirements. While interior designers focus on the overall aesthetics of a space and ensure the right choice of furnishings and finishings to give the building a pleasing appearance, interior Architects advise on the practicality, safety, and functionality of a design, and the most efficient way to achieve design requirements within a building’s layout.

While the two professions are traditionally separate, with distinct qualifications and professional associations for each, in recent years both interior design and interior Architecture have aligned more closely, with interior designers taking a more active role in the structural aspects of design implementation.

Many interior design businesses now offer interior Architecture as an integral part of their service, with ‘pure’ interior Architects more commonly working as consultants to large residential and commercial developments at the planning stage.

Do You Need An Interior Designer For Your New Build Home, Extension, Or Renovation?

What interior designers and interior Architects both have in common – traditionally at least – is that their roles are viewed as intrinsically separate to that of an Architect. The designer and interior Architect take over once the Architect has finished his or her job.

Homeowners undertaking a luxury new build, extension, or renovation may believe, therefore, that they will need to hire an interior designer separately after the inside has been designed by an Architect. This, however, isn’t the case, and nor is it the most efficient option.

Working with a separate interior designer after a building has been completed or the architectural plans formalised means that the designer will always be trying to make the most of space that someone else has designed. This makes it more difficult for him or her to accommodate the customer’s design requirements within the building without having to make compromises.

The alternative is to work with an Architect that also provides interior design (and interior architecture) services. This gives the customer greater freedom to specify interior layout decisions and finishings right from the start of the project, at the architectural drawing stage. Taking this integrated approach can save money and reduce the time needed to complete a build, and avoids the need to coordinate the work of multiple professionals within the project.

Integrated Architect/Interior Design Services From DS Squared Architects

At DS Squared Architects, we offer an end-to-end Architectural design and interior design service, providing both architectural and building design expertise to help customers achieve their dream home build, extension, or renovation.

To find out more and to see how our combined approach works in practice, please visit our case studies page, or call one of our service team on  020 8732 5620 to discuss your plans.

Architects London


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