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  • Writer's pictureVera Blouin

What do Interior Designers do?

There is a huge misconception about exactly what is interior design and what do interior designers do. Typically when people hear the term interior designer they immediately associate it to HGTV or someone who simply picks out pillows, today we are going to do our best to clear up the misconception.

Material selections for interior design

Transforming Spaces: Exploring the Role of Interior Designers

What is an Interior Designer?

When it comes to interior design, it's important to understand the valuable contributions of skilled professionals. Interior designers are creative visionaries who possess a keen eye for detail, space planning expertise, and a deep understanding of design principles. They offer a wide range of services tailored to meet your specific needs.

Depending upon who you ask, the definition of an interior designer changes:

According to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) interior design is "...the professional and comprehensive practice of creating an interior environment that addresses, protects, and responds to human need(s). It is the art, science, and business planning of a creative, technical, sustainable, and functional interior solution that corresponds to the architecture of a space, while incorporating process and strategy, a mandate for well-being, safety, and health, with informed decisions about style and aesthetics."

While the Society of British Interior Designers (SBID) says "...The main goal is to improve the effectiveness, accessibility, functionality and aesthetic appeal of an environment in a way that ensures the safe and optimal occupation and use of the interior space. An interior designer will consider the intended function of a space to curate an environment that is fit for purpose, as well as understand how an interior design scheme can positively impact the end-user. A successful design project will also address sustainability and minimise its environmental impact..."

What do Interior Designers do?

When it comes to their clients and spaces, interior designers have many responsibilities. Interior designers are professionals who specialize in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing interior spaces. They work with clients to understand their needs, preferences, and budget constraints, and then develop design concepts and plans to transform the interiors of residential or commercial spaces.

Watch this video from Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) describing what interior designers do.

Here are some key tasks and responsibilities of interior designers:

1. Assessing client requirements

Interior designers meet with clients to discuss their goals, lifestyle, and design preferences. They evaluate the space and determine its potential, taking into account the existing architecture, lighting, and other elements.

2. Developing design concepts

Based on the client's requirements and personal style, interior designers create design concepts that incorporate functionality, aesthetics, and the client's vision. They may present these concepts through sketches, mood boards, or 3D renderings to help clients visualize the proposed design.

3. Space planning and layout

Interior designers analyze the space and plan the layout to optimize functionality and flow. They consider factors like furniture placement, traffic patterns, and accessibility to create efficient and comfortable spaces.

4. Material and color selection

Interior designers choose suitable materials, finishes, and colors to enhance the ambiance and achieve the desired look. They consider factors such as durability, maintenance requirements, and the overall design concept.

5. Furniture and fixture selection

Interior designers assist clients in selecting furniture, fixtures, and accessories that align with the design concept and meet the functional needs of the space. They consider factors such as comfort, style, and scale to ensure a harmonious composition.

6. Collaboration with contractors and suppliers

Interior designers often work closely with contractors, architects, and suppliers to coordinate the execution of the design plan. They may provide specifications, review proposals, and oversee the installation process to ensure adherence to the design concept.

7. Lighting design

Interior designers plan and design the lighting scheme to create the desired ambiance and functionality. They consider natural and artificial lighting sources, select appropriate fixtures, and create lighting layouts that enhance the space.

8. Project management

Interior designers manage projects from start to finish, overseeing timelines, budgets, and resources. They coordinate with various stakeholders, communicate progress, and ensure that the design is implemented successfully.

9. Keeping up with trends and codes

Interior designers stay updated on the latest design trends, materials, and technologies. They also ensure compliance with building codes, regulations, and accessibility standards to create safe and functional spaces.

modern minimalist interior designed bathroom with a neutral color palette

What kind of skills do you need to be an interior designer?

Interior design is an exciting career field to get into, but if you'd like to excel as an interior designer you'll need a combination of technical, creative, and interpersonal skills.

Here are 10 skills you'll need as an interior designer 1. Creativity

Interior design is a creative profession that requires an ability to think outside the box, generate innovative ideas, and envision unique design concepts. A creative mindset allows you to bring fresh and inspiring ideas to your projects.

2. Spatial Awareness and Design Sense

An inherent understanding of spatial relationships and a keen eye for design aesthetics are crucial for interior designers. You should be able to visualize how various elements, such as furniture, lighting, and colors, interact within a given space to create a harmonious and visually appealing composition.

3. Technical Knowledge

Interior designers must have a solid foundation in technical skills and knowledge. This includes understanding building codes and regulations, knowing how to read architectural drawings and floor plans, and being familiar with design software and tools for 2D and 3D visualization.

4. Communication and Listening Skills

Effective communication is key to understanding clients' needs, presenting design concepts, and collaborating with other professionals involved in a project. Strong listening skills enable you to grasp clients' preferences, requirements, and feedback accurately.

5. Problem-Solving Abilities

Interior designers often encounter challenges during projects, such as space constraints, budget limitations, or unforeseen structural issues. The ability to think critically, adapt to changing circumstances, and find creative solutions is essential to overcome obstacles and deliver successful outcomes.

6. Color and Material Knowledge

A deep understanding of colors, materials, textures, and finishes is crucial for selecting appropriate combinations that evoke desired emotions and achieve the intended design aesthetic. Familiarity with different materials' properties, durability, and maintenance requirements is also important for practical decision-making.

7. Project Management

Interior designers are responsible for managing projects from start to finish. This involves creating timelines, setting budgets, coordinating with contractors and suppliers, and ensuring that the design plan is executed smoothly and within the established parameters.

8. Collaboration and Teamwork

Interior designers often work in multidisciplinary teams, collaborating with architects, contractors, engineers, and other professionals. Being able to effectively communicate, negotiate, and work collectively toward a common goal is essential for project success.

9. Attention to Detail

Interior design involves meticulous attention to detail to ensure that every element is precisely placed and that the overall design is cohesive. Small details can make a significant difference in the final result, and an eye for detail is vital for achieving a polished and refined space.

10. Continuous Learning and Adaptability

The design industry is constantly evolving, with new trends, technologies, and materials emerging. Being open to learning, staying updated with industry developments, and adapting to changing design demands are essential for long-term success as an interior designer.

How do you become an interior designer?

There is no one direct path to becoming an interior designer. However, to become an interior designer, you typically need a combination of education, practical experience, and skills.

Here are some steps that you can take if you'd like to pursue a rewarding career in interior design

Get an Education

Like any career knowledge is power and interior design is no different. To become a licensed interior designer you want to obtain a minimum of an associates degree in interior design or a related field from an accredited institution. The curriculum typically covers design principles, space planning, color theory, materials, and computer-aided design (CAD) software.

Gain Practical Experience

Seek internships or entry-level positions in interior design firms, architectural firms, or related industries. This hands-on experience will help you apply your knowledge, develop skills, and build a professional network.

Build up your Portfolio

Create a portfolio showcasing your best design projects and concepts. Include a variety of work to demonstrate your skills and design style. A strong portfolio is essential when applying for jobs or presenting your work to potential clients.

Develop Technical Skills

Master software programs commonly used in the industry, such as AutoCAD, SketchUp, and Adobe Creative Suite. These tools facilitate design documentation, 3D modeling, and visual presentations.

Stay Updated

Keep up with the latest design trends, materials, and technologies. Attend workshops, conferences, and industry events to enhance your knowledge and stay connected with the design community.

Obtain Professional Certification

While not mandatory, earning professional certification can enhance your credibility and marketability. Organizations such as the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) offer certification exams based on education, experience, and examination.

Obtain Licensing (if required)

Licensing requirements for interior designers vary by jurisdiction. Research the regulations in your area to determine if licensure is necessary and the specific requirements to become a licensed interior designer.

Network and Market Yourself

Build relationships with industry professionals, join professional organizations, and attend networking events. Creating an online presence through a website or social media platforms can help you showcase your work and attract potential clients or employers.

Start Your Own Business (optional)

If you aspire to be self-employed, consider starting your own interior design business. This involves building a client base, managing projects, and handling business operations.

Interior designers possess the expertise and creativity to transform your living or working space into a stunning environment that reflects your style and maximizes functionality. Their skills in conceptual design, material selection, furniture curation, lighting design, and project management are necessary in achieving your dream space. Collaborating with an interior designer is the key to unlocking the full potential of your environment.

If you're ready to embark on a journey of transforming your space, you can reach out to the team here at BLOU INK, to get you started on bringing your vision to life.


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