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Archinect's Guide to Job Titles: Interior Designer

CEO Khai Intela
The Role of the Interior Designer Interior design is not just about creating a visually appealing space; it also addresses the needs of the people who will use it. According to the International Interior Design...

The Role of the Interior Designer

Interior design is not just about creating a visually appealing space; it also addresses the needs of the people who will use it. According to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), interior design is a comprehensive practice that involves creating an environment that protects and responds to human needs. It combines art, science, and business to create sustainable and functional solutions that align with the architecture of a space. Interior Designers are professionals who specialize in this practice.

In an architectural firm, the role of an Interior Designer can vary. Some may focus solely on the interiors of a project, while others may work closely with architectural designers. This distinction becomes more apparent in projects that involve renovating existing buildings, where the majority of the work takes place within the interiors. However, the specific responsibilities can depend on the organization.

Archinect's Guide to Job Titles: Interior Designer Image: Linhai Yufengli Homestay in Linhai, China by LYCS Architecture; Photo: Wu Qingshan, from 10 intriguing interior spaces for your Friday inspiration

Interior Design vs Interior Architecture

The distinction between an Interior Architect and an Interior Designer is a topic of debate within the architecture and design community. The main difference, according to some, is that an Interior Architect is more involved in the structural and architectural aspects of an interior space. They may be responsible for extensive renovations and interior construction. However, it's important to note that Interior Designers can also undertake these tasks. The difference in title can sometimes be semantic or depend on the specific context of the work. For further discussion on this topic, check out this Archinect Forum thread: Interior Design or Interior Architecture?

Qualifications and Responsibilities

When hiring an Interior Designer, firms typically look for certain qualifications and skills. These can include:

  • Selecting and coordinating furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FFE)
  • Having a degree in Architecture, Interior Design, Interior Architecture, or a related field
  • Proficiency in design software like Revit, ArchiCAD, and similar programs
  • Collaboration with in-house architectural teams
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Knowledge of local building codes

Emily Evans, an Interior Designer and Project Manager at Verona Carpenter Architects in New York City, highlights the diverse range of responsibilities that an Interior Designer may have. She describes her role as encompassing various tasks, from leading the design process to coordinating with consultants and being heavily involved in the drawings. She emphasizes that interior design goes beyond simply selecting finishes and furniture. It requires a holistic approach that considers the construction and integration of different materials.

Archinect's Guide to Job Titles: Interior Designer Image: B:Hive, Smales Farm by BVN in association with Jasmax © John Gollings.

What are firms looking for?

When firms are seeking an Interior Designer, they often specify certain requirements. For example, Islyn Studio, based in Brooklyn, is looking for a Senior Interior Designer with at least six years of experience in hospitality design. They emphasize the ability to handle all aspects of a project, from concept to construction administration. Skills in hand sketching, drafting, project management, and team mentorship are also essential.

Similarly, Los Angeles-based firm MAWD is seeking a Senior Interior Designer with a combination of interior design and architecture knowledge, particularly in residential developments or hospitality projects. Proficiency in software like Adobe Suite and AutoCAD, as well as an understanding of US building codes, are required. A Bachelor's degree in Interior Design and several years of post-graduate experience are also desired.

What about pay?

According to Archinect's Salary Poll, the average annual salary for Interior Designers in the United States is $63,673. Professionals with 8 to 10 years of experience can earn an average of $73,062 per year. Those with around 3 years of experience can expect an average salary of $52,100 annually. In Los Angeles, the average pay for Interior Designers is approximately $68,323 per year, while in New York City, it is $66,853 per year. It's important to note that compensation can vary depending on experience, region, firm size, and the job market.

A Holistic Practice

Interior Designers play a vital role within architectural teams and specialized interior-focused studios. Regardless of the specific setting, interior design is a discipline that integrates seamlessly with architecture. Interior Designers should embrace a holistic approach to their work, considering not only the aesthetics but also the functionality and construction aspects.

If you're interested in a career as an Interior Designer, check out the current opportunities on Archinect Jobs.