Interior Architecture, as described by the modern-day man’s “go to” source Wikipedia, is the “design of a space which has been created by structural boundaries and the human interaction within these boundaries.” But we all know there’s much more to it than a boundary. Optimising layouts and square footage, bringing fresh innovations and products to the table, budgeting and value engineering are all key skills. Not forgetting the importance of communication between the designer, contractor and client at ongoing site meetings.
With it not being so long ago since economic downfalls and a now very apparent “boom” in the industry, the competition for developers to sell is also rising. This only highlights the importance of carefully selecting existing architectural spaces that can be maximised when re-modelled; or for the new build project to be that bit more architecturally pleasing to the eye. True interior architecture is a balancing act between the art and science of an interior space. This has had an impact on structured learning and technological advancements within the industry. In order to improve the space and the quality of life which exists within it, there must be an understanding and awareness of human behaviour and how it is changed by space.
Traditionally, the education of both architects and interior designers in the beginning stages of education have incorporated the incremental phases of progression. The admission of separation and grey areas between the architect and interior designer is a twentieth century phenomenon due to the emergence of interior decoration. As the famous saying goes, “If we were to be given a pound for every time…” we were queried about paint colours or fabric selections “…we’d be millionaires!” Perception of course is controlled by the media. That “do it yourself” mentality of someone waking up in the morning, deciding to decorate a friend’s house and suddenly calling themselves a designer. We’re not going to lie… We blame changing rooms! Looking back to the first day of University, memories stick to mind of the entire class of sixty eight students laughing to the lecturer’s opening line of, “If you thought this was about cushions and curtains you better leave now!”
For us, the Art of Interior Architecture is the self-expression of an individual project; the skill to transform an empty space on plan into an exciting revitalised place in reality. Researching the area’s local demographic and working closely with estate agents, we determine the market and level of expectations the end user will have. Whilst keeping in mind the budgets set by our clients, the developer. We ask questions such as: What latest materials could we interject into our kitchen design that will make them stand out from the rest? What recognisable brands should we suggest for sanitary ware? How can we light this space to highlight the building’s character set by the original architect? We’ve all seen photographs of those apartments with magnolia walls and light brown carpets! We’re not going to lie, it does help that we have great working relationships with suppliers whom give us insight into the latest products before it hits the market. These working relationships also enable us to negotiate the best prices! Our love to express personality and character into the space is only enthused with these advantages.
As for the Science of Interior Architecture, this is where aesthetics meets functionality. Buyers want to feel that they are gaining a space that has been carefully thought out, rather than purchasing a less appealing square box with little personality. Do they have the right balance between relaxing and social areas? Is there enough storage for their everyday items as well as space to hide other trinkets that we as humans naturally horde?! Is their kitchen planned efficiently to maximise the best use for their pots and pans as well as appliances? To us design is an instrument for improving quality of life; the space in which to exist must equally be functional and meet the required government led regulations. This notion only encourages a more ergonomic and economic thought process within design. As Interior Architectural Designers we are brought in at the early stages, prior to building regulations being completed to enable us to optimise and increase the yield of square footage before the rest of the design team takes the project further with not so “frozen layouts!”
All of the above is a moot point without the efficient exchange of said design ideas, information and documentation between client, contractor and other stakeholders. Our duty is to produce the scheme with detailed working drawings that are fit for construction purposes. This could include (to name a few):
The need for the modern world of construction to evolve only encourages our niche industry of architecturally aware interior designers to become an integral part of the design team. This has allowed us to interact and work closely with all other consultants involved, enabling us to bring our creative ideas to fruition.