When I goes to university, when people ask me “what are you studying?” I always feel a little embarrassed when I answer “interior design”. Note that I’m Italian, and I lived in a very small city, where most of elder people don’t speak English, so they often look at me confused, like they’re saying “what’s interior design mean? is that a work?”
So, who is an interior designer?
An interior designer isn’t an architect (but an architect can be also an interior design, if one study architecture first, and then make a master in interior design – but this is non my case) and personally I like to think that interior designers have a better balance between creativity and rationality compared to architects who, as I had see from personal experience, usually concentrate more on technical things and don’t let them play with artistic things.
In my head an interior designer is on the middle between artist and architect, between the rational and the creative part, between the right and the left side of the brain.
But remember: I am an interior designer, so maybe I have a very dreaming image of what a real interior designer is; but this scheme help me a lot to remember about what I would like to be, both at work and at personal level; I always think about this image when I start a new project, trying to balance the two aspect of FUNCTIONALITY (the rational part) and AESTHETICS (the creative part).
What does an interior designer do?
An interior designer deals with DESIGN. The task of an interior designer is to think of a result – the final *room – take the details and analyze them one by one – materials, colors, finishing, furniture, appliances, furnishing elements, various systems like light and air conditioner – and in the final phase, the list of phases necessary for the realization of the project, planning the work of the various masons, electricians, carpenters, painters, tilers, installers etc… whom will have to work at the site. In short, the interior designer’s work it is not something that you can touch with your hand, but rather hold the whole process behind the realization of an interior *room.
In short, the interior designer is NOT the one who personally creates the room, but he/she is who follows and guides you to the realization of the room that you two had designed together on paper.
*NOTE: I speak of room, but in reality we deal with any private and public interior, and also of stands and booths.
What an interior designer can design?
An interior designer usually design about interior: usually when we refer to this category we speak of houses’ rooms, shops, apartments, but as I mentioned before, an interior designers can also design booths and stands for a fair, or an exhibition. Then there are more specific sub-categories, such as interior designers of cars or boats.
Usually I says to people that all I need to start a project are 4 walls, a ceiling and a floor: if I don’t have a structure to work on, I really can’t do much, also on a legal way (in the sense that only an architect enrolled in the Architect Register can present construction’s projects “from zero” to the municipality).
I had already made some concept presentation about the internal room layout on a blank land, but after that, I give all to an architect to put more details at the concept giving a meaning to the distance between pillars (NOTE: in Thailand, the houses do not have load-bearing walls, but all is based on pillars and beams), checking that their size was sufficient for hold the weight of the house.
This example demonstrates how architects and interior designers should be able to work together to achieve the “best possible project” for the customer.
Also for big renovation project it may be necessary the presence of both these professional figures: in the past years I took care of the renovation of a small church in Tunglung, in the province of Sadao, in the south of Thailand, not too far from the border with the Malaysia, and I remember that I discuss the concept with the priest, and design the concept until we were both satisfied.
After that, I had asked to an architect my friend to help me drawing the details to make my ideas workable, by doing some small modification and improvement where necessary.
But an interior designer can also work “solo”, for a little renovation in an interior area that must be improve, or to design the interiors of a completely empty house.
Customers usually love to ask me “how about your style? What style do you use when you design?”.
I always thought that one must have a strong personality and a personal style to become a designer, but also who doesn’t have a personal style or is searching for its own style can be a designer too.
It can seems a nonsense, but I have some facts that can explain this, so we will analyze two samples that show the approach of a customer who’s searching an interior designer.
1. In the first case, the customer can choose a designer or a design’s studio after have seen their portfolio and projects: he/she choose them because they like the same style, or because he/she likes their works. In this way the customer will feel reassured in leaving the realization of the concept to someone he/she has already see some works, and will not interfere too much in the choices of the designer, leaving him free to express his creativity; it can be compared as someone who goes to a famous restaurant, and decides to order the house specialty, without ever having tasted it, just because he trusts the chef.
2. In the second case, if the customer has confused ideas, he might prefer to have a designer able to guide him in the process of creating the concept and choosing the details to be inserted, in order to design an interior just for him, create by the designer, who, however, will not based it on his own stylistic preferences, but start its work from the client’s stylistic preferences to realize the concept. This example is very similar to a dressmaker, who, starting from a sketch, create the custom-made dress, making some small changes to make it fit on his customer.
I belong to the second category: I admit to having greatly envied my colleagues who already knew what their style was, or which styles were completely out of place with their way of being.
I was always doubtful, and I could never be constant in the details that allow you to define a certain style “personal”.
Over the years, I have always indulged customers, starting from the things they liked (and especially by pointing out things they didn’t like in any way) and trying to develop the best possible interior for them.
In this way I could experience a lot, and I came to understand little by little which elements / materials / colors I liked the most or started to feel more “mine”: I am still far from being able to define what my style is, but I think of have made huge strides since I started my career!
My personal points as an interior designer
CREATIVITY: this work allows you to express your creativity to the maximum, changing materials, colors, finishes, from time to time, with the possibility of seeing your catalog of choices evolve as new technologies bring innovative materials to market, which they can often be used in many different ways.
VARIABILITY: this job is definitely a job where you don’t have time to get bored; because two equal interiors will never be made in the same way, even when customers have similar tastes, because their needs and lifestyle are different, and therefore each one must be designed as a separate project.
SERVICE: somewhere on the site you can read my motto, which is somehow the paraphrase of one of the most famous phrases of Mother Teresa of Calcutta “I am but a small pencil in the hands of God”.
Here, in parallel, I believe that an interior designer should never impose itself, nor impose his own style or ideas on the client, but should instead be a tool in the hands of the customer, to help him realize his ideas in the best possible project.
After all, if a customer asks us to design a house for him, when it is all over, we will no longer be able to set foot in it, so it really doesn’t makes any sense to “fight” against your customer desires, when you want to use a full-height piece of furniture for the cherry color TV, when our client would rather go with a black and minimalist style?
And does it make sense to create a super-equipped kitchen, if our client eats away from home 5 days a week, and isn’t even able to make a simple omelette?
Here, I believe it is always right to reach a compromise between the wishes of the customers and our ideas, especially if these go to contrast too much with the customer’s ideas or his lifestyle.
Here we are at the end of our first post: what do you think of this new type of post? Is there any topic that has intrigued you and that you would like to see further?
If you want you can leave me a comment below, or on the Facebook page of the blog or on the site (or even by private message, if you are shy).