Interior Design Interior Design Student

What Is An Interior Designer?

September 27, 2016

What Is An Interior Designer?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for those of you who were interested or intrigued about Considering Studying Interior Design. Today, I thought I would clarify what Interior Designers actually do.

Over the course of my time studying Interior Design, I have, and still do, hear many misconceptions and preconceptions as to what an Interior Designer does, and doesn’t do. I’ll be first to admit, when I look back before embarking on my studies, I really didn’t have a clue what being an Interior Designer entailed. It’s all to easy for us to presume that Interior Design is about choosing the right colour scheme or the correct wallpaper.

Personally, listening to people I have met, I think some of these misunderstandings have been bought about by interior design TV programmes. They tend to give the general public the opinion that to be an Interior Designer, you need to be able paint walls or  sew a cushion or two.  If you have these skills, then great, but don’t worry if you don’t. These are certainly not the skills required to be an Interior Designer.  The ability to design a room is not based on whether you can paint or sew, but your ability to pull together all the design elements in a space to create a cohesive design scheme.

So What Skills Does An Interior Designer Require?

What Is An Interior Designer?

Interior Design is a multi faceted profession. It requires a range of creative and technical skills to ensure the end design enhances, and functions according to the clients requirements and lifestyles. Interior Designers also ensure sustainability and regulatory requirements are met with each design brief.

Here are some skills that Interior Designers require (note no painting or sewing skills!)

  • A high level of technical knowledge such as Photoshop, AutoCad, SketchUp and Maxwell Render, as well as others, are a must in the industry.
What Is An Interior Designer?

AutoCad drawings, such as this elevation drawing, are essential to the design process an Interior Designer undertakes.

What Is An Interior Designer?

Technical lighting plans are an essential when designing any space and must have skill for an Interior Designer.

  • To be able to draw/sketch out design ideas including perspective drawings and spatial planning are an important aspect of the design process.
What Is An Interior Designer?

An example of a perspective development sketch for a sustainable restaurant design. Development sketches are quick drawings of ideas that the designer will undertake. It is a brain storming session to visually see how their ideas will look and work with the client brief. Once done, they then decide on one concept and develop it further.

What Is An Interior Designer?

The above concept was for a sunken seating area within a glass extension that overlooked the garden.


  • A creative mind.
What Is An Interior Designer?

Adding creative details from research undertaken is a fun process to incorporate into a design scheme. Sometimes thinking outside the box can make designs more interesting as was the case with the above design. I researched the history of the office building and implemented some creative modern detail that referred to its historical background.

Other skills that an Interior Design require are:-

  • Excellent communication/presentation skills to be able to provide clients with ideas and briefs.
  • Knowledge and awareness of building and safety regulations.
  • Project management skills with the ability work to deadlines.
  • An eye for detail. It’s all about attention to detail.
  • Problem solving skills.
  • Business finance and marketing skills.

So What Is An Interior Designer?

Interior Designers work from the end product backwards using a client brief. Unlike a builder or architect, who set the structures in place, an Interior Designer works to create a functioning client led, livable space. Every design is based on each client’s requirements and lifestyles, which are as individualistic as they are. No one client is going to be the same as the next.

There are seven elements that an Interior Designer will follow to achieve the best possible space according to a client brief and budget. These are space, light, form, texture, colour, furniture and objects. These seven elements are the foundation to every design scheme . Each one is as important as the other when designing any space. A lot of research, drawings and considerations are undertaken to pull a scheme together.

What Is An Interior Designer?

Spatial planning and traffic flow schematics are an essential part of the design process as it helps a designer understand how space will be used.  It also assists with choosing furniture and placement whilst taking into consideration anthropometric ensuring comfort and ease of the users. This is one of my favourite aspects of the design process as its a problem solving exercise!


Interior Designers wear many hats as they have to be knowledgeable in lots of different fields. There also many different careers within the Interior Design industry itself.  For some, they will specialise in one aspect of interior design. There are so many, but to give you a brief idea, I have listed a few below.

3d Visualisation

A former fellow Interior Design student, Anita Brown from the National Design Academy went on to specialise in 3d visuals. Anita certainly found her niche as her work is outstanding. So much so that Anita,  has set up a 3d Visualisation Service, focusing on turning designs into real life images for clients to visually capture their ideas. You can check out here fantastic work here.

What Is An Interior Designer?

One of Anita Brown’s amazing rendered 3d visuals for a Grand Designs show exhibition You really can’t tell that this is a 3d rendered visual and not the real thing!

Heritage Interior Designers

An essential part of Interior Design is gaining understanding of historical factors of buildings they work on. Within the industry a Heritage Interior Designer that specialises only with historical buildings, has to be qualified to MA degree standard. The amount of work, knowledge and research involved in historical interiors requires a specialist Heritage Interior Designer to be employed. This is to ensure preservation and rehabilitation of our historic buildings are maintained. It’s a highly technical and scientific field within the industry and I take my hat of to anyone who is, or has, studied Heritage Interior Design.

What Is An Interior Designer?

Knowledge of different architectural buildings and their interiors is important for Interior Designers to learn. It ensures correct procedures and works are carried out. This piece shows my research into Gothic Revival Era which I thoroughly enjoyed researching at the time.

 Furniture Design

What Is An Interior Designer?

An important part of Interior Design is furniture. Knowledge of furniture design, styling and spatial planning is essential to every design scheme. For some, this leads them to design their own furniture collections. Interior Designers use anthropometric/ergonomics, which is the physical interface between people and furniture.

What Is An Interior Designer?

Anthropometrics are used by Interior Designers to ensure design schemes are user-friendly and comfortable for their clients needs.

Home Staging

Again this is another field that Interior Designers can find themselves specialising in. Especially for new builds where property developers are promoting their properties for sale.

In fact, there are so many different avenues and specialist fields within the Interior Design industry that it would take me forever to write about them, and for you to read!

I hope, at least, I have given you a small glimpse of what an Interior Designer is about, and hopefully have a little more understanding. We are a lot more than cushion and wallpaper pickers. We are creative souls, who love every aspect of designing spaces. From sketching out ideas, to creating detailed drawings,  researching, and planning, to sourcing products. It really is a fabulous industry!

For an Interior Designer, it is the passion and love of interiors which is constantly evolving through technologies and lifestyle changes, that ensures being an Interior Designer has got to be one of the most interesting jobs around!


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  • Reply Amanda Dodds-Hooson September 27, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Bang on Maria…this is a fab post. x

    • Reply maria September 27, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks Amanda! Your feedback is much appreciated and so pleased you enjoyed it ? x

  • Reply anitabrown3d September 27, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Well done for clarifying the (often undermined) role of the Interior Designer and thank you for such a great shout-out! x

    • Reply maria September 27, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Your welcome Anita. Your work at Anita Brown 3D is fantastic and it’s such a specialist field within the industry it deserves a mention! X

  • Reply Carrie Ann September 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Great examples and great post. I remember seeing your drawings during the course, they still wow me.

    • Reply maria September 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Thanks Carrie Ann. I’m so pleased you enjoyed this post ?

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