Interior Design is a collaborative process – it’s one that should fall within the components of an architects role, yet too often the interior is left to the last minute. It is crucial therefore that the two should collaborate both comfortably and effectively.
The entire process of a design and build/conversion is simply too big a job for one discipline alone. During the course of a project the architect draws in experts from many fields – planning consultants, structural engineers, mechanical and electrical and more. There is without doubt a crucial role to be filled here by the competent interior designer. This role should always complement rather than compete.
Our role has changed beyond recognition over the years with many more areas now falling to our expertise. We used to fulfil a furnishing role (those now called Interior Decorators) but as building projects become more complex, so too has our role, we are now Interior Consultants. We are the eyes of our clients, establishing just how interior spaces can come to life and actually be used in real terms.
An architect may well have been involved in a project for several years. Getting planning, specifying the detail, going out to tender and much more. It can sometimes be hard to keep the momentum and interest going on a project. Here is the ideal opening for the interior consultant to become part of the team. This role is a skilled one. We ideally need to be involved early on in a project so that we can drill down into the detail. What size of dining table is required, is it an inherited table that needs incorporating, how many will need to be seated? There may be a treasured collection of wine glasses – these will need housing in bespoke joinery. Armed with all of this detail we go about working alongside architect and client.
Other areas of interest to us will be the lighting – you simply cannot design a lighting plan without considering where the furniture goes.
How will day and night light be controlled? If including curtains then where should they stack? An exquisite symmetry of windows that look marvellous from the outside may not offer any interior divisions for curtaining options and window furnishings could be compromised as a result.
Joinery is another key element and an area we are always asked to consider and contribute to. This isn’t simply about showing a picture – this is about getting into the detail and producing visuals and drawings that prove the designs’ worth.
Working comfortably together as architect/interior consultant/client delivers the best results imaginable.
Make no mistake, as interior designers we do not take on structural roles, the exterior shell, how the building sits in the environment, heat loss, plant rooms etc. We do however, have an interest in the arrangement of rooms, the electrical and lighting plans, the radiator positions, the finishes, the joinery, the bathrooms, the kitchens and the decorating (paints and wallpapers). Add to this the furniture, window furnishings, rugs, lamps and art – wow, that’s quite a brief! It’s all joined up though and needs to be treated as such.
There is most definitely a “good time” to invite us to collaborate on a project. So all you architects out there, the earlier the better! Good teamwork will deliver a great project that is an enjoyable process for all of the players