An architect looks at a blueprint

Architect vs. Interior Designer: What's the Difference?

What is an interior designer?

Interior designers are commonly mistaken for interior decorators, the people responsible for making the interior of a building beautiful, painting the walls, and placing the art. Interior design, in fact, requires a much more broad approach to building creation. After a bachelor’s degree, practical experience, and licensing decided by state or country, they should be able to interpret a blueprint, be well-versed in safety codes, and be prepared to work as a go-between in either direction for future occupants and contractors, suppliers, and architects, all of whom they often work closely with.

Additionally, they are responsible for ensuring that the overall design of the structure meets regulations, has appropriate plumbing layout, good lighting, the right acoustics, and is made from the best materials. They must be able to look at the bare bones of a building and create a functional, comfortable, safe space based on human behavior, necessity, location, and longevity. Additionally, they have the ability to design and approve changes to the structure of an existing building.

What is an architect?

Architects are the first step in creating any building, whether it’s home or hospital, skyscraper or school. They take an empty page and draw a building from the ground up. While architects can draw a building and hope it gets put to use, often the process is the other way around. A client finds an architect, explains what sort of building they need and what it needs to do, and then the architect plans it, using pencil and paper: each floor, door, stairwell, and column. They may turn that 2D building into a miniature 3D version before presentation, creating a miniature model of the finished product out of cardboard, plastic, or other substances.

Much like interior designers, architects continue to work closely with the other professions necessary for a standing structure. They continue to oversee the completion of their brainchild, making sure the plans are held to, as there are often very specific reasons for their choice of roof shape, size, or placement. This knowledge is garnered from a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, internship, and appropriate licensing.

What’s the difference?

The difference between interior designers and architects lies largely in the stage at which the person steps in. Although the training is different, the end goal is the same for both professions. In deciding which route to take, it’s largely a question of creating something from scratch based on a client’s requirements (or one’s own highly educated imagination), or taking what someone else has created and making it into something more. While architects turn an idea into a plan, interior designers turn a plan into a functioning, concrete structure.