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Interior Design vs. Interior Architecture: Exploring the Differences and Controversies

Image Source: Sanaulac.vn In the world of architecture, there are numerous roles and sub-roles that often blur the lines between them. One area that tends to cause confusion is interior architecture. What sets it apart...

Interior Design vs. Interior Architecture Image Source: Sanaulac.vn

In the world of architecture, there are numerous roles and sub-roles that often blur the lines between them. One area that tends to cause confusion is interior architecture. What sets it apart from regular architecture? Are interior architects just practicing interior design under a different name? Let's delve into the interior design vs. interior architecture debate, exploring the roles, qualifications, salaries, and dispelling any misconceptions.

Interior Design vs. Interior Architecture

Interior design and interior architecture, while related, are distinct professions with different focuses and skill sets.

What does an interior designer do?

Interior designers are responsible for planning the layout and decoration of rooms. Contrary to popular belief, their job is not just about shopping for aesthetically pleasing items. Interior designers ensure that indoor spaces are safe and conducive to the well-being of their occupants. Their process involves extensive research, sketching, discussions with clients, ordering materials, cost estimation, site inspections, and more. They may also use CAD and BIM software and oversee teams of contractors. Some interior designers specialize in specific areas such as residential or commercial buildings, kitchens, or bathrooms.

What does an interior architect do?

Interior architects perform similar tasks to interior designers but possess additional knowledge about building materials and structures. They play a crucial role when a building needs to be adaptively reused, which involves repurposing the interior while keeping the existing external structure intact. Interior architects work with the shell of a building, making it come alive inside. They also focus on plumbing, electricity, ventilation, and have expertise in sustainable design. However, the use of the term "interior architect" varies and can be controversial in some cases.

Why is the job title 'interior architect' controversial?

The term 'interior architect' is still a subject of debate and controversy. By law, the word 'architect' refers to a person who is fully qualified and licensed in architecture, a process that typically takes around seven years. However, there are instances where individuals refer to themselves as interior architects without meeting the necessary criteria. While some universities offer three-year Bachelor's degrees in interior architecture, these graduates should technically identify themselves as interior designers. In many countries, calling oneself an interior architect requires years of additional study and licensure.

The Differences and Similarities

Interior design and interior architecture share many similarities, but they are not the same. Interior designers focus primarily on aesthetics, while interior architects must consider both aesthetics and building structure. Fully qualified and licensed interior architects earn higher salaries to reflect their longer training period. However, when comparing individuals with only undergraduate degrees, the difference in salaries between interior architects and interior designers reduces considerably.

On a practical level, interior architects are usually involved in construction or renovation projects at an earlier stage than interior designers. The former contribute to structural matters, and the latter consider the appearance and functionality of the space once it is built.

Qualifications and Career Paths

The paths to becoming an interior designer or interior architect differ in terms of duration and requirements.

How to become an interior designer

Becoming an interior designer is generally more straightforward. Most interior designers hold undergraduate degrees in interior design. Some may also have postgraduate qualifications or simply rely on years of practical experience. While there are no restrictions on job titles in interior design, having a recognized degree and a strong portfolio is essential to stand out in a competitive industry.

How to become an interior architect

Becoming an interior architect requires careful consideration. In the UK and Australia, a three-year undergraduate degree in interior architecture is an option, but graduates cannot legally call themselves interior architects. They can work as assistants in architectural firms and identify themselves as interior designers. To genuinely become a licensed interior architect, one must pursue a seven-year architecture degree and obtain the necessary licensure.

In the United States, there are no undergraduate degrees specifically in interior architecture. Aspiring interior architects must pursue a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch), which is a combined five-year program, or take a Master's-level conversion course in architecture after completing another Bachelor's degree.

Salaries in Interior Design and Interior Architecture

Salaries in the field can be influenced by various factors, including qualifications, experience, and location. Fully qualified interior architects typically earn more than interior designers due to their longer training and licensure. However, comparing salaries between the two can be challenging due to the varying qualifications and licensure requirements in different countries.

In the UK, average salaries for interior designers range from £25,539 to £30,180, while interior architects can earn between £28,128 and £36,368. In the United States, interior designers make an average of $51,564, while interior architects earn around $78,165.

FAQs about Interior Design vs. Interior Architecture

Can an interior designer be an architect?

The roles of an interior designer and an architect are distinct, requiring different educational backgrounds, skill sets, and professional qualifications. While there is potential for crossover, an interior designer cannot automatically function as an architect without the necessary architectural education and licensure. Similarly, an architect may need additional training or experience to specialize in interior design.

What skills do interior architects need?

Interior architects require a solid understanding of aesthetics, building materials, and structure. They must stay updated on national and local building regulations and possess technical skills in areas like seismic retrofitting or conservation techniques.

Which is harder to study: interior design or interior architecture?

Neither subject is inherently harder. The difficulty depends on individual strengths and interests. However, becoming a fully qualified interior architect typically takes longer, often requiring seven years of study and practical experience.

Which career is more competitive?

Both interior design and interior architecture are highly competitive fields. Success depends on giving your best during training, seizing every opportunity, maintaining professionalism, and building an outstanding portfolio.

Do interior designers and interior architects work alone?

Interior designers and interior architects rarely work alone. They collaborate with clients, contractors, architects, engineers, and other stakeholders to ensure the feasibility and appropriateness of interior plans within the broader context of the building.

Do interior designers use blueprints like architects?

While interior designers need to read blueprints, producing them may not be their responsibility. They refer to blueprints to understand the existing structure and determine the potential for changes. Nowadays, blueprints are more commonly digital files.

Why can't I call myself an interior architect if I graduate in interior architecture?

The term 'architect' is protected by law and reserved for those who have completed the necessary architectural education and obtained licensure. Graduating with a Bachelor's degree in interior architecture does not fulfill these requirements, and individuals should identify as interior designers or use alternative job titles.

Is interior architecture a good degree?

Choosing a degree in interior architecture depends on various factors, including career goals, personal interests, program quality, and opportunities for further specialization or advanced study. Researching accredited programs, considering market demand, and building a strong portfolio are essential steps in making an informed decision.

In conclusion, both interior design and interior architecture offer creative and fulfilling career paths. While there are overlaps between the two, they have distinct focuses and qualifications. Becoming a fully qualified interior architect requires more extensive training and licensure compared to interior design. However, with the growing trend of repurposing historic buildings, both interior designers and interior architects have promising future prospects in this evolving field.