For many architecture projects, the interior design aspect becomes an afterthought to the big picture concepts, structural systems, and value engineering that comes before it. It’s unfortunate, too, as paying attention to the finishing touches of any building design can make all the difference when showing off the architecture that was painstakingly fought to preserve. Many architects disregard interior design as an inferior service to the ‘real’ architecture, but it actually presents a very unique set of skills that should be incorporated and coordinated into the design from the start.
Interior design is much more than zany accent walls and feng shui. Wall color and furniture placement are part of the equations, sure, but all that is mere window dressing when considering concepts such as spatial organization, natural and artificial lighting, and detailed specifications that all work to reinforce the design of the architecture itself.
And that’s the real key. The interior design is the tuxedo tailor fit for the famous actor. It can never be at odds with the formal, material, and spatial cohesiveness presented by the overarching building design. It’s the most difficult and important job of the interior designer, and comes from a deep understanding of the design process and why decisions were made along the way. The architect, interior designer, and client must work closely together to flesh out a final product that shows well in prime time on the red carpet.
So, how exactly does interior design work to reinforce the architectural design?
It starts with understanding how the client plans to use their newly minted spaces. Once these basic concepts are grasped and developed, it comes down to lighting, texture, color, and functionality. Materiality responds to lighting and vice versa, so these aspects must all be balanced on paper before the final specification and design is sent out the door. 3D rendering and visualization has had a profound effect in the past decade on how we understand how a space will work before the design is executed. This step is vital to the success of an interior design job, and establishes a feedback loop that constantly updates the client and builds trust.
And trust leads to a completed project everyone can hang their hats on (sometimes literally). Interior design puts the finishing touches on a work of architecture, and can have a profound effect on how the spaces feel, look, and function. If you skimp on this part of the process, you might end up with a lot of expensive furniture and no real plan for how it exists within the architecture. This leads to confusion, and can detract from the design impact of the rest of the structure.
Interior design is an important stepping stone to a cohesive, finished architectural design. If it isn’t considered with rigor and clarity, it can have a devastating effect on how the project is viewed and used. It should be budgeted for, embraced, and trusted to give the architecture the coat of paint it needs to truly stand out.