Difference between Interior Design and Interior Architecture

Great interiors are a combination of beauty, comfort, efficiency, economy, durability and safety. Undoubtedly, a structure to be of utmost functionality involves a great deal of artistry teamed with technicality.

However, the industry nowadays is witnessing a surge in demand for ‘Interior Architects’. So far the readers have been clear about architecture and interior design as related yet distinctive professions, but most of us are trying to understand the difference between interior architecture and interior design as separate disciplines.

Addressing the confusion, we would like to say that the term interior designer and interior architect are often used interchangeably, but there is clear distinction between the two.

Interior Architecture and Design involves conceptualization and realization of a structure’s interiors by smoothly integrating the architectural aspect with the design of the built space. Interior design on the other hand is more to do with space management and aesthetic appeal of the interiors once the structure has been realized.

Interior Architecture includes architectural and technical aspects of an interior space keeping in mind a the artistic features. The technical aspects include material, plumbing, electricals, ventilation and ergonomics amongst other things. On the contrary, Interior Design involves enhancing an interior space’s functionality while creating a visually appealing ambience for the user that is achieved through ingenious use of structural elements along with decorations and soft furnishings.

Hence even though both interior architects and interior designers enhance the purpose and quality of interior spaces the profile of former is vast and interior design is a subset of it.

A renovation project would best describe the difference between the two fields explicitly. For instance, a renovation of any space might include dismantling of a certain portion while keeping the basic structure intact. It might include re-running of electrical wires, re-piping for change of plumbing, introduction of ventilation system etc. The final outcome would still demand substantial amount of styling and decor services; maintaining both functionality as well as aesthetic appeal would be of utmost value. This is exactly how interior architects function.

Practicing interior architecture requires designers to consider pretty much everything to do with the building of an interior space including materials, finishes, electrical requirements, plumbing, lighting, ventilation, and intelligent use of space amongst other things that affect humans (in and around).

Designers with training in interior architecture would usually be present at, and have an important say during all stages of the construction process, from the initial plans right through to the finishing touches.

Interior designers on the other hand, usually take up a project after the structure is built. They handle the decor, theme, color scheme, artwork, furniture and fixtures, upholstery etc. They would be in a position to suggest the best wallpapers, rugs and furniture to suit the theme of the space and ensure comfort.

Interior designers have a specific horizon to explore in residential and work spaces, however, projects like adaptive reuse, exhibition design, set design and the like require the expertise of an interior architect. One can say that interior design is the art and interior architecture is the art and science of design.