Explained: The Difference Between An Architect And An Interior Designer

Confused what’s the difference between architecture and interior design? Here’s a guide to help you get started!

Want some work done in your home but can’t decide whether you need an architect or an interior designer for the job? Are they the same or different? And if different, how are they different? We are here to solve all your questions about the difference between an architect and an interior designer.

Begin with understanding your requirements. Are you moving to a new place? Are you considering a complete renovation of your existing home or simply want to redecorate? Do you want to redecorate your entire home or just a particular room? Answering all of these questions is key to deciding whether you will need an architect or interior designer.

Next, understanding the difference between architecture and interior design can help you make informed decisions about the look and feel of your space. In this comparative guide, we take a closer look at these two fields and explore their similarities and differences.

From their education requirements and job responsibilities to their approach to designing spaces, we help you understand what makes architecture and interior design unique. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the details you need to make informed choices. So, let’s dive in and discover the worlds of architecture and interior design.

What Is Architecture?

Architecture refers to the design and planning of buildings, structures, and physical spaces. It involves the arrangement of rooms, exterior design, and the use of materials and construction techniques. It also encompasses the study and practice of designing and constructing buildings that are functional, aesthetically pleasing, and safe to occupy. When making their plans, architects take into consideration various factors such as environmental, cultural, and historical context, as well as the intended use of the space.

Architects focus on interior decorations, space planning and design processes
A stunning living room with an arched niche bar space

What Is Interior Design?

Interior design is the art and science of enhancing the interiors of a building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for those who use the space. It involves the selection and arrangement of several elements such as colour, lighting, materials, furniture, and accessories to create functional and attractive interiors.

Interior designers consider factors such as style, safety, ergonomics, and sustainability when making design decisions. They often collaborate with architects, engineers, and other professionals to ensure that their designs are functional, safe, and meet the needs of their clients.

Interior design can be applied to both residential and commercial spaces. It encompasses a wide range of styles from traditional to modern. The goal of interior design is to create spaces that are not only aesthetically appealing but also enhance the overall quality of life for the people who use them.

Interior design refers design interiors of homes and buildings
A living room with wooden panels and textured walls

Difference Between Architecture And Interior Design

Architecture and interior design are related fields that share a common goal — creating functional and aesthetically pleasing indoor environments. However, there are significant differences in the scope, focus, and responsibilities of these professions.

Difference between architecture and interior design is in the scope, focus, and responsibilities
Loft space with a wooden ceiling for a warm vibe

A Guide To Architecture

Scope of work: Architects are responsible for the design of the building as a whole. This includes its facade, exterior and interior spaces, as well as the surrounding site and landscape.

Structural design: Architects are trained to understand the structural, mechanical, and electrical systems of a building. This enables them to design spaces that meet safety and functional standards.

Building codes and regulations: Architects must have a comprehensive understanding of building codes and regulations and ensure that their designs comply with them.

Project management: Architects typically manage the construction process and collaborate with a team of engineers, contractors, and other professionals to ensure that the building is constructed according to their design.

Architecture responsibility different from interior designer
A glass door between the living room and balcony

A Guide To Interior Designer

Scope of work: Interior designers focus exclusively on the design and decoration of the interior spaces of a building. This includes the layout, lighting, furniture, and colour schemes.

Aesthetic design: Interior designers have a strong sense of aesthetics. They use their expertise to design interior spaces to be visually appealing, functional and comfortable to occupy.

Attention to detail: Interior designers pay close attention to details such as the selection of finishes, materials, colours and accessories, and how they contribute to the overall aesthetic of the space.

Collaboration with clients: Interior designers often work closely with clients to understand their needs and preferences. This helps them create a design that meets the client’s requirements.

Now that we know the difference between architecture and interior design, let’s look into what is interior architecture and how it is different from the aforementioned professions.

Scope of work is difference between architect and interior designer
A boho bedroom design in a calm colour palette

What Is Interior Architecture

Interior architecture is a design discipline that combines elements of interior design and architecture to create functional, aesthetically pleasing interior spaces within a building. It involves the alteration, renovation, or repurposing of existing interior spaces to create new ones.

Codes and regulations: Interior architects consider not only the aesthetics and decoration of interior spaces, but also the structural, mechanical, and electrical systems, lighting, and the flow of movement within a space. They must take into account building codes and regulations, accessibility requirements, and the needs of the occupants of the space.

The integration: Interior architecture often involves working closely with architects and engineers to ensure that the design and construction of the interior spaces are integrated with the overall design and structure of the building.

In short, interior architecture is a hybrid field that combines the design and technical knowledge of architecture with the aesthetic and functional considerations of interior design to create dynamic, functional, and aesthetically pleasing interior spaces within a building.

Interior architecture designs building interiors & space planning
A spacious kitchen with a dedicated breakfast counter

When Do You Need An Architect And An Interior Designer?

Say you have a plot of land and want to build a house from scratch. In this case, you would call an architect. They will draw plans to visualise how the structure will look. Will it be a ground-level structure or a ground plus first floor or more? Then they will plan the layout of the house — the placement of the living room, kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms. They will also decide how the exterior of the house looks — do you want a garage, lawn, parking space, play area or a little of all? They will then build the house in collaboration with engineers and contractors.

Once the structure of the house is ready or if you’re moving into an already constructed apartment, you will call an interior designer to help you turn it into a home. That is, decide the interior design style that best reflects your personality, the colour scheme that makes the space inviting for you, and the furniture and light selection that meets your functional and aesthetic requirements. Their expertise allows them to make all of these elements work cohesively.

Interior designers also know how to work with an existing space to make it suit your needs without having to make structural changes. For instance, you may have a compact bedroom that feels too cluttered with just the basics like a bed and wardrobe. An interior designer will recommend smart solutions that make optimal use of the available space while taking into consideration your preferences. So, when you wish to modify an existing space without making major changes, you can call an interior designer. You can also call them when you’re simply craving for a change in your living environment. They will help you redecorate and breathe new life into your space. 

Architect and interior designer: When do you need to hire them?
A parallel kitchen featuring floral wallpaper

In conclusion, architecture and interior design both play important roles in shaping the built environment. Architects are responsible for the overall design and structure of a building, while interior designers focus on the design and aesthetics of interior spaces. Both professions require creativity, technical knowledge, and a deep understanding of the needs of the people who will use the spaces they design.