What is Interior Design

What is interior design by susan rains design.jpg

Before I started researching creative career options, I thought interior design was what I saw on the TV shows I grew up watching like Designing Women

I had this perception that interior designers were intimidating and it was an unnecessary extravagance only the wealthy could afford. It never occurred to me that interior design is not only about aesthetics but it's an investment in health, safety, and well being. It’s easy to assume that interior design doesn’t matter but I believe it does in significant ways.

What is interior design? 

I’ll start by breaking the term down into its two parts.

First, the word interior. 

An interior is everything inside of a building. It’s the organs, veins, and nerves of a building. Or more specifically it’s the fixed elements that can't be moved easily like wall to wall carpet, wood flooring, cabinets, fireplaces, and hardwired lighting. It's also the furnished items that can be moved easily like sofas, chairs, window treatments, accessories, and bedding. Interiors are the complement to architecture. Architecture is like the skeleton, muscles, and skin of a building. It’s what holds the building up and what it looks like on the outside.

Second, the word design.

There are many different types of design, from fashion and graphic design to lighting and industrial design, to name a few. Designers evaluate problems through research to find the best solutions and then plan, coordinate, and manage the project. Interior designers solve problems within an interior space. They assess the needs and desires of the occupants, research creative and technical solutions while taking the relationships of color, pattern, size, shape, and volume into consideration.  

Interior designers work on a variety of projects from large corporate buildings to residences. In new construction, they are the first to decide what the fixed elements of the space will be. They may choose where walls go, what trim to use and the paint colors. Cabinets, flooring, countertops, fixtures, and hardware would all come for the ride in new construction. When designing for an existing building, an interior designer may move a wall or redesign a kitchen, for example, to make the space function better for its occupants. Or they might select furnishings, decorative items, and window treatments.  

ln my experience, executing a design is both a linear and nonlinear process. For a design project to run smoothly, I follow a step by step process that helps me to be thorough, organized, and consistent which also makes my clients happy. The rub is that the process may be linear but what happens during each step of the process is nonlinear. Because you can’t control everything, accidents happen, and inspiration can arrive at anytime, the process may fork a bit. That’s why it’s important to be flexible, patient, and open to opportunity whenever it arrives. For me, happy accidents, unexpected challenges, and divergent paths are part of what makes the creative process rewarding and so much fun. I arrive at the desired destination, solve the problem, and maybe go beyond that to create something special.

Now you have a better idea of what interior design is.

I think it's clear that design is not just about creating spaces that are beautiful but also creating the optimal functionality for the people who occupy the space. As a general rule, the function comes before form. The goal is to create spaces that support the occupant's daily lives by making it easier to use, more comfortable, accessible, and safe while also helping increase and prolong health and well being. Interior design is part of everyone's life. I talk more about this in my design philosophy.  It's not just for the wealthy or those who are lucky to have a knack for it. The right talented designer will be able to show you the direction to the future home you desire and deserve.