What Does an Interior Designer Do?
September 19, 2023 - Michelle Murphy
I once had a friend say, “So you’re an interior designer, huh? Don’t you ever get bored of picking out pillows and candles all day?!”
I proceeded to laugh out loud as I imagined a life solely composed of fluffing cushions and selecting the perfect vanilla scents.
If only it were that simple!
While I love finding accent pieces as much as anyone, the life of an interior designer is about much more than that. There’s a whole heck of a lot that goes into making spaces beautiful and functional.
Time to answer your burning question - what does an interior designer do, really?
What Does an Interior Designer Do? A Deep Dive
At its core, interior design is about creating synergy between functionality and aesthetics to enhance living experiences.
(More often than not, it also involves being a pseudo-psychologist to translate a client’s unspoken desires into tangible designs haha).
Let’s get into it.
The Creative Side
I’ve always thought of interior design as an art form.
And, much like any masterpiece, it all starts with a vision.
Gather Client’s Requirements: The first step involves figuring out what your client truly wants. It’s the designer’s job to ask questions, listen, and understand.
Brainstorm Ideas & Develop a Vision: With a list of needs and wishes in hand, it’s off to the drawing board. In this phase, designers get creative and mesh client dreams with design concepts.
- Planning & Sketching
Draft Space Layouts: Here, proportions and measurements really come into play. How will that sofa fit into the living room? What’s the best spot for that reading nook?
Select Colour Palettes, Textures, & Themes: Colours and textures play a pivotal role in evoking emotions. This step is all about setting the mood.
- Material Selection
- Choose Fabrics, Furnishings, Lighting, & Accessories: Here’s where the design truly starts to come alive. From furniture to lighting to decor, each piece is strategically chosen with care and precision.
The Technical Side
While the aesthetic aspects of interior design often take the spotlight, there’s an entire technical universe operating behind the scenes.
- Spatial Awareness
Balance Form & Function: It’s one thing to create a room that looks straight out of a magazine. But, if that stunning coffee table is a shin-bruising hazard or the bespoke shelves are too high to reach, then it’s simply beauty without brains. The artistry of interior design lies in making sure that every piece and every layout serves a purpose - all while looking fabulous.
Understand Structural Integrity & Architectural Nuances: A room isn’t just four walls and a roof. There are beams to consider, electrical wiring to account for, and sometimes, historical structures that need preserving. Interior designers must understand the foundation they’re working with, ensuring safety, compliance, and respect for architectural integrity. *Note that in some jurisdictions, interior designers are not allowed to sign off on structural changes. They can use their expertise to advise and guide, but an architect or engineer is needed for final review and stamp.
- Technical Drawing & Software
Not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks to modern tech for saving me from having to do all my renderings and blueprints with a pencil and paper! CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software and 3D rendering tools are integral in bringing visions to virtual life, and interior designers need to be well-versed in applications like these to stay ahead.
The Business Side
Every interior design project is a business undertaking as much as it is a creative endeavor.
All dream homes come with a price tag. Part of an interior designer’s expertise lies in understanding financial parameters and setting a budget that aligns with both the client’s aspirations and their wallet.
- Project Management
Ensure Projects Stay on Track: Time is always of the essence in interior design, and deadlines are crucial. A professional interior designer acts as the project coordinator, managing various professionals, scheduling tasks, and ensuring that timelines are met.
Tackle Unforeseen Challenges: Is there such a thing as a perfect project? Yea, right. Hiccups are almost a given. It’s the designer’s role to navigate these challenges and find solutions.
Collaboration & Coordination
Interior design is far from a solo act!
- Working with Related Professionals
Collaborate with Suppliers & Vendors: Building strong relationships with suppliers is a really important aspect of an interior designer’s practice. Not only does having a rolodex of trusted, pre-vetted vendors make their lives sooooo much easier, but it also ensures that their customers are getting the highest quality outcome.
Ensure that Designs Come to Life as Imagined: A design concept, no matter how breathtaking on paper, is only as good as its execution. Designers work closely with every professional involved, ensuring that every single detail perfectly aligns with the original intent.
- Client Relations
Navigate Diverse Tastes & Preferences: Clients come with their own set of tastes, backgrounds, and inspirations. The magic lies in blending the designer’s expertise with the client’s individuality to craft a space that reflects both personal stories and timeless design.
Revisions & Feedback Loops: No design journey is without its twists and turns. Revisions and feedback are a natural part of the process, and it’s here that a designer needs to be adaptable.
Why the Question “What Does an Interior Designer Do” Matters
In the end, what does an interior designer do?
To sum everything we’ve covered in a handful of words, interior designers blend creativity with functionality, dreams with reality, and spaces with souls. They craft not just rooms but experiences, memories, and lasting impacts.
So, the next time you run into that interior design pal, remember that they are meticulous planners, boundless creatives, and passionate business people… in addition to expert pillow fluffers :)