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The Difference Between Interior Design and Interior Architecture

Updated on July 29, 2017

There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding as to what the difference is between interior design and interior architecture. Is there really any difference in the services they both provide?

This article is meant to answer this question and help those who wish to have a clearer picture of what to expect of the two professions. And in the event, they need interior services, know whether it's best to get the services of an interior architect or that of an interior designer.

And for students aspiring to become one or the other? They'll be able to make a better decision on the educational path they need to take to achieve their aspirations.

There are many similarities between the two services to an extent, so much so that many in the design industry use the words interchangeably. But then, there are some differences which you'll soon find out

One thing the two services have in common though . . . they are both a part of the same industry; the interior design and construction industry and both services are the same niche within this same industry.

Interior Design
Interior Design | Source

Interior Design

In the interior design industry, designers provide services that go beyond that of an interior decorator, despite the erroneous belief that they are one and the same.

Interior designers not only offer all that an interior decorator will offer, they go way beyond just 'prettying-up' a room.

Asides the usual consultation, they take site measurements, sketch out plans and layouts of rooms or entire interiors of residential and commercial spaces, depending on the extent of the project of course, and most of today's interior design projects call for the expert use of CAD software,

And because of this, most interior designers, including students of interior design have either mastered or are beginning to learn how to use design software programs like AutoCAD, Autodesk, and 3D Home Design Software.

Providing interior design services involves explicit communication of ideas and effective implementation of instructions in a technical professional manner, through the use of detailed drawings, specifications, schedules, and mood boards.

Other aspects of the interior design profession include:

  • Space planning to produce plans, elevations, working drawings, perspectives views, etc
  • Lighting design
  • Specialized designs that sometimes involve interior construction works . . . kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms,
  • Coordinating colour schemes
  • Custom furniture design

As an interior design professional, you will earn a more than comfortable living and have the opportunity to work with (and for) important people in the society. It can provide you with a 'high-flying' life if you so wish and opportunities become almost limitless within the real estate and building industry.

Most interior designers render residential designs services and a good number can even execute tasks that involve uncomplicated commercial projects (hotels, offices, restaurants). Others work for large architectural firms who are ready to pay top designers fairly hefty salaries.

Interior Architecture

As earlier mentioned, the terms interior architecture and interior design are many times grouped under and referred to as interior design, but an interior architect takes on a more complex task than an interior designer.

Interior architecture covers design analysis and interior construction, must have a good knowledge of building regulations and must understand the structure of buildings in order to make their projects safe, habitable, and functional.

Their specialization combines:

  • Art of design
  • Industrial design
  • Science of architecture

Interior architects can gut or strip the inside of an existing structure and then rebuild it to accommodate a totally different purpose. For instance, an old office block can be renovated and converted to a block of modern apartments. And though the building may retain its existing exterior design, the transformation of its interior may be a thing of great beauty. This is referred to as “adaptive re-use” of a building’s shell.

Working as an interior architect is a bit more challenging as it requires a high level of skill and the ability to work on major projects, keep to tight deadlines, and communicate with consultants, builders, technician, contractors, and ‘big’ (sometimes difficult) clients with very large budgets.

Summarising the Differences the Two

A deeper knowledge and technical ability are the major difference between the two services so if you aspire to become a part of this highly lucrative profession and you are technically inclined to a fair degree, you can decide to go for interior design.

However, if you have good technical and architectural skills asides being highly creative, you can certainly become an interior architect.


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Though the interior design profession has been around for much longer than interior architecture, interest in the latter has grown rapidly in recent years.

With all the new materials like environmentally friendly resources, new techniques and recent technologies like architectural glass ceilings, floors, and walls, including “friendly technologies for heating and lighting”, interior designers and interior architects have found exciting new ways to plan and design interior spaces to great advantages for human who have to interact well within boundaries of a building’s shell.

© 2009 viryabo


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    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 5 years ago

      You are so right vaultkeeper. Thanks for the visit.

    • profile image 5 years ago from India

      Interior designing is a very attractive mode of career that one can choose. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to express your ideas and get paid at the same time. It has various sub categories to chose from, so make sure you go along the one that you would be more comfortable instead of doing a random design course. All the best. Regards.

    • profile image

      fashion 6 years ago

      Great hub.

      Pics of interior decoration are very beautiful.

    • furnitureman profile image

      furnitureman 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Nice hub. Keep up the good works. More power.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Swimminpool furniture, thank you so much for your inspiring and warm comments.

      Thank you so much for visiting also. Im glad you like the article.


    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Teak outdoor furniture, thank you.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      AL, thank you so much for your nice comments. (sorry for my late response)

      I'm sure your home looks great since you possess great creativity and love designing.

      That's one thing about creative people. Their talent is always reflected in their home surroundings.

      Thanks & GodBless.

    • profile image

      swimming pool furniture 6 years ago

      I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      teak outdoor furniture 6 years ago

      good presentation. i like the article.

    • profile image

      Best furniture store AL 7 years ago

      I always liked to become an interior designer because I loved designing a lot but fate changed and I became a technical bug..but nevertheless I still make my house a better place to live and use all my creativity in decorating it.Your hub is great.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Tracy, hi. Thanks for visiting and for leaving a nice comment. I'm glad you like the article.

      Thank you for the follow tracy.


    • tracykarl99 profile image

      Tracy 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Fantastic decorating hub. Thanks for a well-written article. I'm a fan.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      You are welcome Steve. Thanks for the visit.


    • profile image

      steve nicks 7 years ago

      I appreciate this post.Thanks.


    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Happy that you do. Thanks for visiting RosWebbART, and thank you for your great comments. You are inspiring.


    • RosWebbART profile image

      Ros Webb 7 years ago from Ireland

      Like it!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Hello Keira, how are you?

      Thanks for the visit and great comments as usual.


    • keira7 profile image

      keira7 8 years ago

      Hi Viryabo, its always nice to see your hubs. Take care, see you very soon.