Interior architecture vs interior design | Forum – Archinect


In the past, there were several states that licensed interior designers and in some, they were licensed under the title “Interior Architect”. A number of those states have dropped licensing of interior “architects”/designers. In reality, it’s basically the same thing. In professional practice, interior design is basically doing interior design/space-planning or modifications of the interior without involving or altering structural systems. 

Academically speaking, interior architecture or interior design degrees are more or less the same and varies by institution. Now, primarily, there are two general tracks of interior design/interior architecture. (Now, let’s not confuse this with interior decorators which are merely decorating the interior).

Track 1: (don’t worry about numbers as that is meaningless and has nothing to do with degree tracks) Commercial Interior Design (example: commercial tenant improvement projects).

Track 2: Residential Interior Design/Architecture. 

The difference between Track 1 and Track 2, is Track 1 focuses on the kinds of interiors used in commercial spaces such as a coffee shop and branding/character, space-function planning, etc. Track 2 focuses on the residential interior and its domestic use and character. So there’s a difference in the cosmetic/aesthetic aspects but also in terms of function and space requirements. 

Do note: There are people who do both tracks and those that focus exclusively on one or the other. 

I’m a building designer and like architects, we can and do engage in interior design or “interior architecture” as an aspect of what we do but we do a lot more than that. 

Academically, most degrees in interior design/interior architecture does very little to do with structural design and stuff like that. There are people who specialize in interior and that is what they do and do exclusively. Some of them are pretty good at it. However, those that primarily do interior design, are probably not well equipped to do structural design or designing buildings regardless of size or type. They are usually not equipped with how to do the structural work. Architects and building designers are typically more diversely trained and that includes the structural design aspect within reason. This is not to say that we don’t use engineering consultants. There are times when it is appropriate or even required by laws. So Architects and building designers are essentially interior designers (or interior “architects”) but more than that but we’re generally less specialized in that particular aspect in our professional life.

Educationally speaking, the degrees are going to vary from commercial/institutional interiors to residential interiors as the focal area of the degrees. Most degrees that are going to be recognized by NCIDQ are going to be more commercial focus. In my state, there is no interior designer/interior architect license. Therefore, I can do commercial and residential interior design work and it is a service I do offer and is generally an integrated component of building design services. It really depends on what the scope of work is. My services range from interior design to comprehensive building design services, and to landscape design services. 

The title of a degree major is NOT your professional title or what title you may be allowed to use. In Oregon, I don’t use the title “interior architect” because the title “architect” and use of such word in a title is regulated and requires a license as an architect with the Oregon State Board of Architect Examiners. Many states don’t license or have any sort of licensure of interior design or requirement that a person is licensed to perform interior design services. Most of the states with any kind of licensure, now, are mainly a title act only and do not regulate or require a license to practice interior design. 

Does that answer some of your questions and/or raise new ones?

Jun 11, 22 2:34 am  · 

Interior Decorators