You may be wondering: What do interior designers do, anyway? And what is an interior designer, exactly? Understanding how a space impacts its inhabitants is the heart of an interior designer’s work. How a space makes us think, feel, and act are all important aspects of our lives—and whether you realize it or not, the interior design profession has a profound impact on well-being. That’s especially true of the areas where we spend the majority of our time, like our offices and homes.
If you’re thinking about how to become an interior designer, there are many different ways to do it—and pursuing an interior design career doesn’t have to happen through a traditional inroad. Many interior designers begin their professions in completely different jobs before settling on the creative path. No matter what, though, there are certain foundational steps that make an expert’s work well informed.
First and foremost, interior design work is shaped by understanding communities and their needs. There are also various types of licensure and protections in place to make sure design work is safe, inclusive, and accessible. If you’re a creative and empathetic mind, it may be time to test out this career path.
“An interior designer is a design professional who, among other things, provides services to embellish and enhance the quality, conditions, and programming of spatial and decorative environments to make a space and living better,” says AD100 designer Leyden Lewis, owner and creative director at Leyden Lewis Design Studio. “This can be applied to residential, commercial, hospitality, healthcare, and beyond!”
What is an interior designer?
The definition of an interior designer may differ slightly, depending on who you ask. “An interior designer is a professional who uses design—through functionality, materiality, safety and building codes, and much more—to support the human experience,” says Toni Gocke Wyre, chair of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).
Gocke Wyre explains that designers work with clients to see what they want in a space—not the other way around. Designers do so by ultimately reflecting their client’s needs and demonstrating their values to others who enter or see their space. She notes that ASID focuses on the human first, and the interior space second. Interior designers also focus on accessibility and inclusivity in their work to make sure that interiors can be used by all.
Chi-Thien (C.T.) Nguyen, the chair of Interior Design and Preservation Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), in Savannah, Georgia, says that an interior designer is a creative problem solver, social anthropologist, and experiential choreographer all in one.
Nguyen’s SCAD colleague Tony Purvis would add that interior designers intentionally create spaces that we interact with on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not. “An interior designer creates art that humans literally live, work, and play within,” he says.
What are the responsibilities of an interior designer? What does an interior designer do?
Interior designers have many responsibilities tied to potential spaces and their respective clients. Mainly, interior designers are responsible for working alongside customers and meeting their everyday needs, following health and safety rules, meeting accessibility standards, understanding how their work fits into a broader community, and planning and completing doable design projects under specific timelines.