Interior design is a practice concerned with anything that is found inside a space - walls, windows, doors, finishes, textures, light, furnishings and furniture. All of these elements are used by interior designers to develop a functional, safe, and aesthetically pleasing space for a building's users.
The work of a interior designer draws upon many disciplines including environmental psychology, architecture, product design, and traditional decoration (aesthetics and cosmetics). They plan the spaces of almost every type of building including: hotels, corporate spaces, schools, hospitals, private residences, shopping malls, restaurants, theaters, and airport terminals. Today, interior designers must be attuned to architectural detailing including: floor plans, home renovations, and construction codes.
Although the terms interior design and interior decorating are sometimes used interchangeably, each discipline exhibits a distinct difference in its scope. Interior design involves manipulating the architectural integrity of the interior space. Interior decorating, on the other hand, is generally focused on the selection and presentation of interior items within a space, such as furniture, accessories, finishes and room layout.
Size of the industry
The industry revenue in the United States for interior design was $11,108.4 million in 2007 with a revenue growth of .5%. That same year, there was around 84,018 establishments and 72,377 enterprises recorded.
Interior designers can specialize in a particular interior design discipline, such as residential and commercial design, they can also help with making rooms in the hospital and even work with schools to make offices or another things with some developing expertise within a niche design area such as hospitality, health care and institutional design. In jurisdictions where the profession is regulated by the government, designers must meet broad qualifications and show competency in the entire scope of the profession, not only in a specialty. Designers may elect to obtain specialist certification offered by private organizations. Interior designers who also possess environmental expertise in design solutions for sustainable construction can receive accreditation in this area by taking the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
The specialty areas that involve interior designers are limited only by the imagination and are continually growing and changing. With the increase in the aging population, an increased focus has been placed on developing solutions to improve the living environment of the elderly population, which takes into account health and accessibility issues that can affect the design. Awareness of the ability of interior spaces to create positive changes in people's lives is increasing, so interior design is also becoming relevant to this type of advocacy.
There is a wide range of disciplines within the career of interior design. Some of the disciplines include: structure, function, specialized performance, special group needs, discipline needed for business, computer technology, presentation skills, craft skills, social disciplines, promotional disciplines, professional disciplines, aesthetic disciplines, and disciplines with cultural implications. This list shows how interior designing encompasses many different disciplines and requires both education in science and technology as well as being moved.
There are a wide range of working conditions and employment opportunities within interior design. Large corporations often hire interior designers for regular day-to-day working hours. Designers for smaller firms usually work on a contract or per-job basis. Self-employed designers, which make up 26% of interior designers , usually work the most hours and often stress to find clients to provide for themselves. Interior designers often work under stress to meet deadlines, stay on budgets, and meet clients' needs. Their work tends to involve a great deal of traveling to visit different locations, studios, or clients' homes and offices. With the aid of recent technology, the process of contacting clients and communicating design alternatives has become a lot easier and requires less travel. Some argue that virtual makeovers have revolutionized interior design from a customer perspective, making the design process more interactive and exciting, in a relatively technological but labor intensive environment .
, especially a bachelor's degree
, is recommended for positions in interior design. Within the United States
there are 24 states, the District of Columbia
, and Puerto Rico
, that have some form of interior design legislation with regard to title and practice. The National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) administers a licensing exam. To be eligible to take the exam, a candidate must have a minimum of six years of combined education and experience in the field, where at least two years includes postsecondary education. Once the examination has been successfully taken, the designer may indicate that they are an NCIDQ certificate holder. In certain jurisdictions, this is linked to the ability to practice or self-identify as an interior designer. The laws vary greatly across the United States and in some jurisdictions, NCIDQ certification is required in order for the designer to call themselves a Certified, Registered, or Licensed Interior Designer. In others, however, there are no minimum qualifications and anyone with a desire to do so may call themselves an interior designer. Continuing education is required by some states as part of maintaining a license.
Alabama has recently rolled back legislation regarding the licensing and practice of interior design. It is important to note that there is a difference between title acts which restrict who can call themselves an interior designer and practice acts that limit who can actually practice activities defined as within the scope of interior design.
Interior design earnings vary based on employer, number of years with experience, and the reputation of the individual. Interior designers within the specialization of architectural design tend to earn higher and more stable salaries. For residential projects, self-employed interior designers usually earn a per-minute fee plus a percentage of the total cost of furniture, lighting, artwork, and other design elements. For commercial projects, they may charge per-hour fees, or a flat fee for the whole project. The median
annual earnings for wage and salary interior designers in the year 2006 was $42,260. The middle 50% earned between $31,830 and $57,230. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,760.
While median earnings is an important indicator of average salaries, it is essential to look at additional key factors in a discussion about revenue generated from design services. Location, demographic of client base and scope of work all effect the potential earnings of a designer. With regard to location, central metropolitan areas where costs of living expenses, and median earnings are generally greater, so is the potential for higher earnings for the interior designers and decorators in these locations. Indeed, urban areas attract a greater population of potential clients thereby creating a greater demand for design services. Additionally, as the average square footage of homes and offices has increased over time, so has the scope of work performed which translates directly to higher earnings. Scope refers to the overall size and detail of a project - materials, furnishings, paint, fabrics and architectural embellishments utilized are all examples of scope. As stated above, earnings for interior designers and decorators may include a margin charged to the client as a percentage of the total cost of certain furniture and fixtures used in the scope of work. Hence, as scope increases, so do earnings.
- Ball, Victoria K.; Opportunities In Interior Design and Decorating Careers. USA: McGraw-Hill, 2002.
- Farr, Michael; Top 100 Careers for College Students. 7th ed. Indianapolis: JIST Works, 2007.
- US Census Bureau, Industrial Design NAICS Definition