The Difference Between an Architect and Interior Designer

The difference between architects and interior designers is that architects build structures from scratch. Interior designers, on the other hand, work with furniture, fixtures, and other accessories for a desired look and function within the structure’s interior.

Continue reading for an in-depth view of the differences in these roles, including job responsibilities, skills needed, and steps to becoming an architect or interior designer!

Who Is an Architect?

Architects are professionals trained in the art and science of building design. They develop concepts for structures and then turn them into elaborate plans, which eventually become commercial buildings, residential homes, or offices.

In addition to creating the overall appearance of a structure, an architect works to make sure the building is safe, economical, and meets the needs of the people using them.

Architect Job Responsibilities

Job responsibilities of an architect include:

  • meeting with clients to discuss their budget, objectives, and requirements for the project.
  • advising clients on the types of designs that work best and the steps needed to take with construction.
  • creating elaborate drawings and testing project feasibility, often with CAD software.
  • ensuring designs meet building requirements, like building codes, city laws, fire regulations, and zoning codes.
  • visiting the construction site to oversee the project and managing subcontractors.

Skills Needed for an Architect

A specific skill set is needed to excel in the field of architecture. Important qualities include:

  • critical-thinking skills to carefully reason through complex issues, like what building materials to use for withstanding certain environmental conditions.
  • organizational skills to handle many parts of each project and balance multiple projects simultaneously. They also need to manage budgets, contracts, records, and timelines.
  • technical skills to use BIM and CAD technology for drafting and designing projects.
  • visualization skills to accurately determine how parts of a building will fit together and what they will look like once completed.
  • communication skills to share plans with clients and contractors via writing, presentations, and oral communication.
  • creativity to develop innovative and original ideas.

How to Become an Architect

To become an architect, you’d follow these steps!

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree. Most states require the degree program to be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).
  2. Participate in an internship program typically for a minimum of three years.
  3. Then pass the Architect Registration Examination to become licensed.
  4. Apply to work as an architect at a firm or private practice.

Who Is an Interior Designer?

Interior designers are professionals in understanding human behavior to create functional spaces inside of buildings.

It’s worth noting that interior designing is not the same as interior decorating, which is furnishing or adorning a space with decorative elements. Interior designers can decorate, but interior decorators do not design. Both know how to transform the space with the use of furniture, color, lighting, and finishes.

Interior Designer Job Responsibilities

Job responsibilities of an interior designer include:

  • collaborating with architects, contractors, and engineers to achieve the functional and aesthetic needs of the space.
  • preparing comprehensive proposals and estimates, and sometimes giving detailed presentations to prospective clients.
  • creating design plans and sketches or other visual aids to present designs to the client.
  • consulting with the client to choose materials, furnishings, and decor.
  • overseeing the installation of design elements.
  • staying up-to-date on current design trends and materials, techniques, and other developments in the field.

​​Skills Needed for an Interior Designer

Interior designers, naturally artistic and creative, also need other skills. These are:

  • bookkeeping to keep finances organized.
  • communication to understand the client’s needs and ensure the client understands the project parameters.
  • computer-aided design (CAD) technology to create two-dimensional floor plans and understand blocks, layouts, and dimensions.
  • customer service to attract and maintain clients.
  • negotiation to negotiate a fair price.
  • problem-solving to quickly overcome any issues and stay on track.

How to Become an Interior Designer

To become an interior designer, you’d follow these steps!

  1. Earn at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school.
  2. Take and pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. A license is not required in all states. To qualify, students need a combination of education and experience.
  3. Gain experience and keep building your portfolio.

Bring Your Vision to Life

At Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design, your architecture and interior design needs are all in one place. Our mission since opening in 1976 is to provide you with a beautiful space on time and on budget. Whether you’re looking to build or transform a residential, commercial, or office space, we are here to help you bring your vision to life.

To learn more or get started, contact us today!

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