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Designer, Decorator or Architect?
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What is the difference between an interior designer,
interior decorator, and an architect?

Both Interior Designers and Interior Decorators have decorating skills and are concerned with enhancing the aesthetics and ambiance of an interior. The function of an interior decorator is to make spaces attractive. The interior designer is qualified by education, experience and examination to enhance the function and quality of interior spaces. According to The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) the professional interior designer functions for the purpose of improving the quality of life, increasing productivity, and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Architects are trained and licensed to design structural and building systems. Increasingly, however, the structures they design and build are delivered to the client not as completed living or working environments, but as "shells" which require interior design solutions. For example, most shopping malls, restaurants, office buildings, hotels, condominiums and apartment complexes are left unfinished on the interior. The owner, tenant or lessee has the responsibility for furnishing and decorating the interior space. That is where the interior designer's expertise comes into play. He or she conceptualizes and plans the interior design solution in concert with the architect or engineer's structural design. Since the suitability of an interior for its intended purposes can be helped or hindered by its structure, the various parties often work closely together. The interior designer's job is to make the built environment safe and functionally efficient, as well as conducive to those who will visit or use it.

The professional interior designer is responsible to analyze the client's needs, goals, and life and safety requirements and integrate those findings with their knowledge of interior design. Formulating preliminary design concepts that are appropriate, functional, and aesthetic are just one aspect of their work. They also develop final design recommendations and presentations. They prepare drawings and specifications for non load-bearing interior construction, materials, finishes, space planning, furnishings, fixtures and equipment. The Professional Interior Designer collaborates with licensed practitioners, who offer professional services in the technical areas of mechanical, electrical and load bearing design that are required for regulatory approval. The designer prepares and administers bids and contract documents as the client's agent and reviews and evaluates design solutions during implementation and upon completion.

Interior designers have technical responsibilities, including an understanding of flame-spread ratings, smoke, toxicity and fire rating classifications and materials, space planning for public and private facilities, National, state and local building codes, standards regarding the needs of disabled or elderly persons and other individuals with special needs, ergonomics and human factors, lighting quality and quantity and acoustics and sound transmission. Interior designers are registered by title or licensed to practice in 20 states and the District of Columbia. In the United States, where interior designers are registered by title in some states, no one may use the title "interior designer" or "registered interior designer" unless they have met the requirements for education, experience and examination as set forth in the statutes.

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