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What is Interior Architecture?

So, what is interior architecture? There’s some debate around the distinction between the terms architecture, interior architecture, interior design, and interior decoration.

This is because of the blurred lines between the responsibilities of each profession – where does the interior design of a space end and architecture begin, and vice versa?

What’s the difference between Interior Architecture and Interior Design?

Many things have increased the confusion between these titles in recent years – including the improvement of interior design education.

A lot of interior designers have become more involved with technical and architectural aspects of interior design (and less involved with the decorative side).

As a result, many interior design degree courses have been renamed as interior architecture degrees to more accurately reflect the course content.

Courses like this have also grown in popularity – producing a growing number of architecturally-savvy designers.

What is Interior Architecture?

Strictly speaking, interior architecture is a subject rather than a profession. The term ‘architect’ is protected (like ‘doctor’) and can’t be used by anyone without the specific qualifications and accreditation.

Interior architecture as a term has come into use due to the increasing scope and responsibilities of interior designers – largely thanks to improvements in design technology (CAD) and interior design education.

Many degree courses now teach students about the structural technical elements of buildings, which has begun to blur the line between architecture and interior design.

The role of any two different interior designers may differ drastically.

Whereas one may be more concerned with decor, soft furnishings and small scale projects, another may be more concerned with larger projects involving technical as well as artistic and aesthetic skills.

The latter will be more likely to have studied interior architecture.

What is Interior Decoration?

Interior decorators are concerned with the aesthetics of the building (colour schemes, furniture, art work etc.).

They’re involved with the art side of design, and less with the science. Interior decorators will have no concern with the structural design of the building and are not required to be as knowledgable about building regulations.

Interior decorators won’t usually need to be involved from the start of the build and won’t need to have in-depth knowledge of technical elements like CAD and structural design.

They must, however, be very artistic and have an eye for interior design trends and aesthetic detail.

All interior designers, even those trained as interior architects, should be skilled in the art of interior decoration in order to complete their job properly.

Summary

  • Interior architecture is the balancing of the art and science of designing an interior space, taking into account all elements of the build. However, a designer with training in interior architecture can’t call themselves an Interior Architect unless they have the professional accreditation from an architectural body.
  • Interior design is a broad ranging profession taking into account all aspects of planning and designing interior spaces in the built environment. The role of any two interior designers can vary greatly.
  • Interior decoration is concerned solely with the decoration or ‘art’ of a space including soft furnishings and colour schemes.

The term ‘interior design’ is used very broadly and can cover practitioners of widely varying skill levels. This is often where the confusion comes from.

However, a variety of skill levels and duties is common to all disciplines, and arguing the difference between interior architecture and interior design is neither significant or constructive.


For more info on each discipline, visit one of our course pages or see examples of work produced by recent graduates of each course: