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What does an Interior Architect do?

By Robin Agricola
Updated May 17, 2024
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An interior architect aims to design indoor spaces and areas that are functional, safe, and aesthetically pleasing. They often specialize in either residential or commercial buildings, and many specialize in niches such as theaters, retail spaces, exhibition halls, or other specific types of buildings. Interior architecture considers many variables, including building and safety codes, how lighting looks during different times of day, the way a room looks from another interior room, and more.

An interior architect is oftentimes challenged with a certain task when asked to design an interior space for a commercial or retail client. A retailer may request an interior space that fosters consumer spending, while a commercial client may desire an area that promotes workplace productivity. An interior architect generally looks to achieve these objectives through the use of proven architecture principles and techniques, as well as by working alongside an interior decorator.

While an interior architect is concerned with the design of interior areas, an interior decorator is concerned with filling these interior areas. This includes adding objects, such as curtains, furniture, lighting fixtures, carpets, and other similar items. Together, an interior decorator and architect can create inside areas that promote specific consumer activities, such as exercising, shopping, or gambling.

Beyond harnessing a thorough understanding of building safety codes and regulations, an interior architect must also possess at least a basic knowledge of construction, interior decoration, and heating and cooling engineering. He or she will need to work directly with people in these and other industries throughout the lifespan of their projects. He or she will need to have a firm grasp on how interior architecture works with these industries in order to facilitate a maximally productive working relationship.

Interior architects depend largely on computer-assisted design (CAD) software and other types of computer software to develop blueprints for interior spaces. Although some pencil drawing is often still necessary, computer programs are a central part of this profession.

The minimum education requirement to become an interior architect is a bachelor's degree, from an accredited institution or college. After performing qualified work in the architecture field for a predetermined amount of years, an interior architect may be able to become certified by a national or regional organization, such as the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) in the US. This certification is helpful for career advancement either within a firm or independently.

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Discussion Comments

By anon279088 — On Jul 10, 2012

Do interior architects have liabilities just like a normal architect?

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