Communication between the architect and interior designer

Filed under: Focus |

Interior design has long been a step-child to the architecture community – its status unclear. Is interior design a totally integrated perceptual experience of space, or an afterthought that may or may not bear some relation to the shell? Is it part of the discipline of architecture or outside it? Whatever your opinion is, interior designers need to have some sensibility for an architect’s work. They both need to develop good communication, with a set of constraints that both are willing to accept and support. The interior designer needs to appreciate the refinement of architecture and the fact that every object selected has to have a legitimate presence in the ethic of the total design. Interior designer’s should respect an architect’s vision.

Sometimes the client (end users) feels the need for another voice to be heard, someone freer of the agenda about form – so the use of interior space issues gets the proper attention.

Clients soon realize that the architect is guided by a strong vision or “concept.” But when the concept means that some interior spaces need to be smaller or need to be deviated from the client’s program in order to keep their design intact, there may be a problem. There are other situations where rooms are not the correct sizes due to not understanding the combined scaled pieces of furniture, or that all the walls in a space are white, beige or grey. Not only does the interior designer need to respect the architect’s expertise, but the architect needs to respect the interior designer’s abilities.

Many clients have tastes and preferences that may not be part of the architect’s “design strategy.” They may view the “integration” as not promoting a consistency throughout the design. In these situations, interior designer’s can be brought into the project to mediate and incorporate qualities that the architect wants to see in the interiors in conjunction with what the client wants to incorporate.

To design in different styles, the attention to detail is a must. Interior designers meet with textile, furniture, lighting, wall covering, flooring, etc. representatives on a continual basis to keep up with new products and new design trends. Architect’s do the same research, but with the concentration on building systems and products. It is impossible to be an “expert” on every exterior and interior product in the marketplace. The mesh of two disciplines can only enrich the design concept.

Nevertheless, the overall interior scheme can be fortified by the input of both the architect and interior designer. The teamwork encourages design innovation and can help put focus on the function of the interior spaces.

Dara Mattingly is now the owner of Elements, based in Colorado Springs.