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The Difference Between Architecture and Interior Design

On any given building project, there are both architects and interior designers involved. These two groups of professionals do similar things. They are trained in similar ways. Even their jobs overlap at times. And yet, there are some distinct differences that make the two professions unique. Those differences are as noticeable as the differences between building exteriors and interiors.

For the purposes of this post, we will assume a project in which the architect and interior designer do their work separately. This best illustrates what makes the two professions unique. Again, just remember that architecture and interior design often overlap in real-world settings.

Architects Design Buildings

An architect can be described as a trained professional whose primary task is to design buildings. Architects are part artist, part structural engineer, and part code enforcement specialist. Their designs must be structurally sound and safe. They must adhere to all federal, state, and local regulations.

With that in mind, consider that every structure has three basic components:

  • Shell – The shell is the skeleton that supports the entire structure. It might be steel and concrete in a commercial building or wood and cinder block for residential.
  • Mechanics – The mechanics of a structure are those internal components that provide utility. They include things like plumbing, electrical, ventilation, etc.
  • Facade – The facade is the exterior portion visible to the naked eye. In a residential setting, it could be anything from brick to vinyl siding and wood cladding. Commercial buildings utilize things like glass and concrete.

The architect works on all three components. They choose all materials. They lay out the building’s overall footprint, including the size, location, and purpose of all interior spaces. It all has to come together in a finished structure that meets the customer’s exact specifications.

Interior Designers Create Functional Spaces

Once interior spaces are physically created, the interior designer steps in. He or she is responsible for turning empty space into functional space. These days, interior designers frequently work with functional artists – at least where a commercial setting is concerned. A functional artist is someone who creates functional pieces, like fireplaces and tabletops, which are also artistically beautiful.

Interior designers deal with three basic components as well:

  • Utility – Every space an interior designer works on must provide the appropriate utility. A cafeteria, for example, has to provide plenty of seating for guests. It has to offer counter space for condiments, napkins. utensils, etc.
  • Comfort – After utility comes comfort. Interior designers want spaces to be as comfortable as possible so that they are as inviting as possible.
  • Aesthetics – How a space looks and feels is also important. Interior designers influence aesthetics through the use of lighting, color, furniture placement, and artwork.

The interesting thing about interior design is that material choices are rather extensive. Interior designers have as many choices as architects, and even more so in some cases. That brings us back to the idea of functional art.

Art and Craftsmanship Combined

The Modern Craftsman is a Salt Lake City, Utah functional art studio that does work for both commercial and residential clients. What they create combines the best of artistry and craftsmanship in pieces made with concrete, metal, and wood.

Functional artists work with interior designers to make spaces both functional and beautiful. They work with architects to ensure that the larger pieces they build meet the requirements for structural integrity.

Though distinct in many ways, architecture and interior design sometimes overlap. It is okay to confuse the two, that is as long as the architects and designers do their jobs in the right way.

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