Interior designers have a flair for all things creative, functional and aesthetically pleasing within indoor spaces. They draw upon many disciplines in order to enhance the interior of any area using clever color palettes, furniture, patterns, textures and placement. Almost any type of building or space can be enriched by an interior designer including offices, shopping centers, hotels, educational establishments, homes and theaters. When a business implements clever commercial interior design it can have a huge impact in the number of sales as well as attracting more prosperous customers in the long run too. The building’s market value will also increase significantly if the interior design project is implemented tastefully and professionally.
The Skills of an Interior Designer
Conventionally, interior designers undertake training at art or design school but they all bring a number of different flairs and talents to their trade. Some of the key skills that an interior design must possess include, being artistic, understanding of building codes, computer design tools, management, communication, listening, decision making, budgeting, timeliness and many, many more! With all of these skills in tow an interior designer will be able to create a cost effective, safe, beautiful space that meets their clients’ needs and fits in with other trades people’s schedules too.
The majority of interior designers focus on decorating spaces, which involves choosing styles, color schemes, furniture, artwork, lighting designs and many other artistically pleasing interior elements. However, more and more designers are branching into more architectural detailing which covers planning layouts of buildings, built-in room features, staircases, walkways and windows. This means it’s very important that interior designers are able to read blueprints and understand building fire codes. They should also have an awareness of making spaces accessible for wheelchair users when they are planning out a space and endeavouring to meet construction requirements.
All in all, an interior designer has to juggle many skills and wear a variety of hats due to the varied nature of their profession. Many have to pass a licencing exam in order to specialize in a certain area of interior design, but this varies from country to country.
The Creative and Practical Processes
No matter what kind of space a designer is working with, they will always follow quite a specific process. Firstly, they need to determine the client’s requirements and desires during a process called programming. The designer and the client will meet on a one to one basis and explore how the space can be used to create the client’s vision. The budget will need to be considered throughout the entire process and the existing elements in the space will need to be considered too. This includes noting down current furniture, measuring up awkward spaces and identifying all of the positive attributes within the space.
Once all of these specifications have been gathered the interior designer will put a detailed plan together and consider all of the potential costs. Of course, these can only be rough estimates at this point as the plans and designs might change as the project progresses. Computer software is often used to create the initial design plan, which makes it easier to make adjustments as time goes on, rather than drawings that are made by hand. As soon as the client has seen the design plan they will make the relevant adjustments together before the work gets started.
After completing the design concept the designer will then start sourcing the materials that are required, such as furniture, flooring, artwork and light fittings. This is where the interior designer might have to gain approval by a construction inspector to make sure that the designs meet the relevant building codes and safety requirements. Overall, the initial process combines many creative and practical decisions that the interior designer will have to weigh up against each other in order to create a flawless finishing product.
Interior designers can choose to go into a variety of different specialist areas, depending on their personal preferences and strengths. Some might choose to focus on specific spaces such as residential or commercial interior design. Whereas others might want to capitalize on certain design elements such as lighting, closets, spas, indoor gardens, kitchens and bathrooms. Interior designers can choose to specialize in almost any area of design they choose, so the world really is their oyster. Having a specialty can be very useful for freelance designers as they are able to focus their attention on the same type of client and learn about their needs and tastes specifically.
An increasingly popular area of design is ergonomic design, which involved designing work spaces, furniture and equipment that promotes health posture and wellbeing in an office environment. The goal is to reduce muscle strain on the body and make sure people working in the space are comfortable in their surroundings. Green design is another up and coming specialty which involves choosing furniture, upholstery, paint and flooring that is free from chemicals and allergens. It might also entail energy efficient design and the utilization of renewable resources.
Interior designers can design new or existing spaces, depending on the individual situation of the client. Although some designers enjoy working with a blank canvas, many prefer to see what already exists in the space so that they can completely recreate the space and enjoy seeing the gradual transformation from one look to the next.
Working Under Pressure
Although the job of an interior designer sounds fulfilling, enjoyable and creative, the workload is incredibly intense. The job comes with a lot of stress and designers are pressured into meetings everyone’s expectations on every project they are involved with. Not only do designers need to fulfil their client’s needs, but they also need to meet deadlines, work to a budget, consider many extraneous factors and juggle several jobs at the same time. There are a few differences between the work environments of freelance and corporate employed interior designers too.
Interior designers employed by a large corporation will generally work fairly regular hours in a spacious and comfortable setting, whereas freelance designers tend to work longer hours in smaller and more congested environments. They will adjust their working day to suit their current client’s schedule and new impending deadlines, meaning that they often work late into the evenings and during the weekends whenever necessary.
Self-employed designers are often under a lot of pressure to maintain a steady income as it can be unpredictable when the next client is going to come along. Full time interior designers that have a steady influx of clients will usually find it much easier to find a health work life balance too.
Meeting the Client’s Needs
The main focus of every interior designer is to meet the client’s needs to their best of their ability. Along the way they will have to face costing issues, safety concerns and other potential space related problems that comes with the territory. The goals of the project will always be put at the forefront of the designer’s mind so that they can have peace of mind that they are on the right track with their ideas.
Usually the designer will be paid an initial consultation fee for putting the plan together in the first instance and then the ground work can be put into the project once the client is happy with the design plan. As soon as the job is an official go ahead the designer will need to go into some more details regarding the specifics of the space which includes alterations to lighting, water, electricals and any other contributing factors. If the room or space needs to be completely refashioned they will also be responsible for sourcing an appropriate contractor and obtaining the relevant building permits from the local authority.
Once these details become more finely tuned the costs will be much more accurate from the designer’s point of view. All changes and approvals must be run by the designer so that they can always be sure they are meeting the client’s expectations. Professional interior designers are used to working with clients who have very clear visions about what they want, including certain fabrics, color schemes and decorative objects. This is often quite useful from a designer’s perspective as their brief is very clear from the get go.
Hiring an Interior Designer
When a client looks to hire an interior designer, there are many different factors that can influence their final decisions. Many choose to ask around for recommendations, as word of mouth is often the most honest review you can get about an interior designer. If they have done an outstanding job on a certain project, it is likely that they will work to the same standard for their next client too.
Many interior designers offer examples of their previous work online too, which can be very useful for people looking for a very specific style or vibe. A designer’s website can showcase their skills and talents which can be enough for any potential client to sign them up right away. Many interior designers also offer to show their potential clients around the spaces they have transformed in person so that they can truly see the full impact of their work. An initial consultation is usually free of charge, which is a good opportunity to see if the client is able to communicate their visions and goals well to the interior designer.
It’s not uncommon for interior designers to turn down work sometimes too, especially when they feel they aren’t quite the right fit for the job. Some interior design projects are extremely specialized including, film sets, photoshoots and museums. This is why many interior designers find it useful to specialize in a certain area of expertise as they know exactly what kind of jobs they enjoy doing, as well as the ones they are fully trained to do.
All in all, the definition of interior design is vast and wide reaching, much like the skills of the designer. From home to commercial interior designers, all of them possess a set of unique skills that allow them to carry out their job with artistic flair, organization and safety to the best of their abilities. Interior design isn’t just about decorating a feature wall and purchasing complimenting furniture; it’s about looking at the overall picture as a whole and creating a unique space that fits in with the individual client’s needs, budget and expectations.