Architects versus Interior designers

Posted: May 27, 2015 by Chynniegal in Musings
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I attended the Unique Interiors Exhibition which took place last week Wednesday to Friday at the Federal palace hotel, Victoria island, Lagos. This was a very interesting event and the exhibition was the part i really enjoyed the most. I usually enjoy exhibitions as such because its a great avenue to see and know about new materials and ideas in the building industry. More interesting is the amount of discounts you could get from such exhibitions. Yes i love to get them at a cheaper rate, always love to, i’m sure everyone else loves that as well. The network and connections you make in such events is also very very necessary for the kind of profession we are in. So yes i never miss an opportunity to attend such events. Other than the exhibitions and networking, lectures were held ranging from different topics. This brings me to my topic for today. The first lecture was a 1 Day Free Interior Design Introductory Course and i was eager to attend. So there was i, seated with my friend ready for a lecture on interior design.

After much excitement, i ended up getting pissed and holding myself from standing up and telling the lecturer to shut up all through the lecture. I was really that pissed. The lecturer kept on ranting on how the Architect does NOT know how to design. She specifically said the Architect does not know what design is…….to design is the job of the Interior designer. So i sat down listening to this and all i kept saying was What! What! Who in the world is this? What does she know about Architects and design? All an Architect does is DESIGN. Oh yes i was mad, still mad. She actually did say what we do is to place walls and stairs where ever suits us and the the ‘Almighty’ interior designer steps in with a proper design and at the end most walls needs to be broken or even the stairs needs to be removed. Wow…..what a lecture, and to think the majority of the audience where Students of architecture from the University of Lagos.

With all this in my head, i had to go look into the actual role of an interior designer, for i know my role as an architect. Below are the roles  of an interior designer according to Megan Keisling:

  • Space Planning (coordination with Architect during schematic phase and through design development) and Furniture Layout (incorporated during schematic phase to ensure that the room sizes will meet the furnishing needs/expectations of the client)
  • Coordination with Architect – exterior specifications (materials and colors to be incorporated into the Architect’s elevations) and price/source review
  • Coordination with Architect – interior finish specifications (interior building materials and finishes – flooring, wall finish and colors, ceiling finish and colors, mouldings, architectural details/built-in specifications, door style and finish, hardware style and finish, tile selection)
  • Interior Design Drawings (mill-work/cabinetry design, specification and finish; tile layouts and coordination with the Architect for inclusion in Construction Documents)
  • Interior Renderings (help clients visualize the space)
  • Fixture Selection and Placement (decorative lighting and plumbing fixtures, placement drawings in elevation and reflected ceiling plans)
  • Furniture and Fabric Selection
  • Budgeting, Pricing, Procurement, Coordination, and Installation of Furnishing Package
  • Task Lighting, Accessory, and Artwork Selection, Pricing, Procurement, Coordination, and Installment

Now, looking through the above mentioned roles, i would be disappointed if i know an architect who doesn’t take these roles as their responsibility. What then is the duty of an Architect? The first role mentioned above is space planning. Seriously, space planning? Interior designers do space planning? What do we architects do then? What is design? What do we do when we design, is it just to produce an interesting facade? We do thorough space planning. A space can not function in the first place if it wasn’t planned. We put furnitures in our floor plans to be sure every space is functional. We purposely leave some walls blank so we can place art works, we know and specify exactly where we want to mount TV sets and why, we specify exactly the mounting height of the curtains, light fixtures, everything mountable. We think of every single detail. Any built project which an interior designer has to redesign simply wasn’t properly designed because the architect is supposed to have thought of every single thing, working hand in hand with the client so you know exactly what your client wants, what kind of person he is and what exactly would make your client happy. We produce interior elevations and perspectives as well to help client visualize what the designed spaces would really look like.

Interior perspective by STOA Architects Nigeria

Click on any of these below to view detailed interior elevations designed by STOA Architects Nigeria

Master Bedroom WC Guest Wc Family Lounge WC Bedroom 3 WC Kitchen details 3 Kitchen details Mounting heights legend Wardrobe details 4 Wardrobe details Bedroom 2 WC Bedroom 1 WC Guest WC Guest Bedroom WC Bedroom 1 Wc Master Bedroom WC Master Bedroom WC Guest Wc

I maybe biased because i am an architect. I do not see the interior designer as a lesser professional. People could decide to specialize in a particular part of Architecture like Interior design, landscape architecture, hospital architecture, etc, just like a doctor could specialize in paediatrics or surgery or gynecology. I am only worried that the architect is getting more and more less important in the building industry. Some people actually think that the architect should do just design and not build, and here again i see that we are loosing the design of interior spaces to interior designers. Maybe i am getting this all wrong, maybe i am so biased because i am an architect. But i would really love to hear from an interior designer, what makes your role as an interior designer that important? Why do you think an architect cant do what you do? I would also want to hear from my fellow architects as well. What do you think about the interior designers? Are they right to think that they design the interior spaces and not we the architects? I am confused i should say. May be it springs from having a very bad first day interior design lecture.

  1. @CHYNNIE: Very interesting article you have on your blog and very thoughtful. It is true that interior design and decoration is being practised by a vast majority by professionals in other fields other than architects like accountants,lawyers and those who got some random diploma from a certified school of interior design and decoration locally and abroad. When you were at the seminar,you should have spoken up if there was a chance so as to defend our noble profession and really slap her verbally with your response.
    She says we can’t design yet they employ architects & still outsource their 3d interior visualisation to the same architects who can’t design how ironic!!! Nigerian architects & students alike really need to diversify in other aspects of architecture like interior design,landscape architecture,3d architectural visualisation,creative design/graphics,digital painting and comic design,animation and signage design/way finding (a field that barely has any architect owning firms who design/fabricate and yet was started by Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus House)and not everyone has to be into construction for chrissakes. e.g If to be a better creative design artist means attending Orange Academy or learn the rudiments of interior design and decoration at Maven School of Interior Design and Decoration then do. The typical architect’s pride won’t get anyone far if they think they know it all,learn from nature even a baby like the great masters of old.
    From a fellow architect/blogger keep up the good work,best regards…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chynniegal says:

      Yes Architects should diversify……..everyone doesn’t need to be into construction. Architecture o cos isnt just about construction, it is also the ability to be creative, to be able to put your creative minds into use. So i agree with you. I know an Architect who is into making furnitures, he designs and builds all kinds of furnitures ranging from the kitchen cabinets, to the wardrobes, sofas, beds….etc. Quite interesting furnitures he has. He is an Architect.
      Thanks or your comment.


  2. Dear Chinenye, having read your observations made at the interior design exhibition at the Federal Palace Hotel recently, left me pondering on a number of obvious reasons. Quite frankly, though I stand to be corrected, we’ve failed grossly in taking that lead role in the construction industry these past few years.
    Our profession over time unfortunately, had been largely politicised; loosing sight of our true essence & purpose in the industry. Today, if you visit a neighbouring site & ask even the artisans, talk less the regular guy on the street; the role he expects of an architect as against the engineer, you’d simply be amazed by his or her response. If you don’t make it clear from the on-set with regards your area of designation, he may even address you as the site engineer simply because they’re seen as problem solvers in practical terms.
    It may even shock you to realise that we aren’t truly understood by the populace as we’ve failed to exert our authority as the, “PRIMUS INTERPARES” (The first among equals) even among our partners… Why..?! While others have tirelessly sought ways at re branding themselves, bringing about some form of control in their practice; we on the other hand haven’t sensitised the public effectively on what we bring to the table as professionals. It goes beyond seating on our high horses as professionals & securing commissions from govt mostly (Our chief client). The cliché being; we need to be heard & possibly felt by others too. People should know what they’re paying for with some realistic guidelines in place.
    The role of selling yourself this 21st century through various marketing tools becomes expedient to stamp your authority by what ever means necessary. Your client may not conceptualise or even know what he truly wants, except through a psychoanalysis probably by you. Our training at school then remains crucial; separating us from others who seek greener pastures in our trade.
    I’ve seen non architects (Graduates & non graduates) take up various design softwares, brush themselves up & secure commissions simply because their hunger for increased opportunities allows them adapt to trend. Many of us are guilty of that & indeed refuse change or upgrade. They say its ethically wrong to showcase our works but come to think of it, who designs those great edifices the realtors sell to prospective buyers seen everywhere. No body hears of you except on signages at the construction site. Engineers discuss & even showcase inovative & groundbreaking achievements adopted in realising an architectural masterpiece yet, the architect shouldn’t do likewise.
    Gladly, things seem to have turned around with the parent body as there’s this wind of change I see through the issuance of seals, stamps & numbers (Identifying the architect) which brings to bare his roots. Ignoring this recent attempts over the years, led to these flaws which must be brought to the common man via public notice or possibly televised by those on the corridors of power.
    With regards the exhibition you witnessed, it could be insulting to seat & listen to a lecture on how the architect has failed to translate the aspirations of his clients into reality but mind you, even non architects alter our designs (interior/ exterior) in an attempt to save cost (Eliminating us in the equation) & engaging a builder/ an interior designer if he/ she can afford one in trying out their design sense which in most cases boomerangs.
    It should be seen criminal, particularly if there are developmental control agencies in place with refusal to under go the needed due processes by the client at securing approvals. Now, as you maybe aware, its an offence for a builder lacking the qualifications to build beyond a storey with the likelyhood of him/ her loosing the acquired land to govt in the event of a building collapse. Till we look at ways at controlling & protecting our noble profession/ work terrain, our profession would serially be trampled upon by even some quacks that claim some level knowledge with the will to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chynniegal says:

      I totally agree with you. You have said it all. We really haven’t sensitized the public effectively on what we bring to the table as professionals. It is true that the artisans address us as engineers on site. They really do see the engineers as the problem solvers. We are meant to take the lead in every aspects in the construction industry but we do not. Sadly everything you have said is true but there is hope, Architects are beginning to be wise.
      Permit me to repost this comment, every architect really needs to read this.
      Thanks again.


  3. […] Architects versus Interior designers […]


  4. Lisa Parsons says:

    Reblogged this on KOTHEA.


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