What is the difference between an interior designer and an architect?

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Both interior designers and architects have specific skills they use to develop design plans for their clients. However, they perform markedly different design functions.

Interior Designer
Interior designers use their artistic abilities to reconfigure and decorate interior spaces, and work with their clients (homeowners, business owners, etc.) to create something aesthetically pleasing and functional. Whether designing a home or a business, an interior designer needs to be able to tap into and understand a client's needs and wants. Spaces can range from indoor and outdoor home environments to restaurants, gyms, dental offices, hotels, and spas. No matter the shape or size, every interior designer works with the end goal of creating a space that is attractive, practical, and safe.

An interior designer will meet with a potential client to discuss the scope of the project, and prepare a design proposal. The design proposal needs to fit the budget and needs of the client, and more often than not, modifications need to be made along the way in order to keep to budget. The interior designer will also secure any materials that are needed for the project. Designers often work closely with architects and contractors to help attain the ambience and look the client is after while still adhering to code and regulatory requirements.

Education: Most design firms require designers to hold at least an undergraduate degree accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Those that earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree can generally enter the field in an assistant role. An Associate of Arts Degree prepares students to continue their interior design education and is often pursued by students who intend to further pursue education in architecture or industrial design.

An architect is specifically trained and licensed to work on the planning and design of buildings. These buildings can be anything where people live, eat, work and play - from something as small as an addition to someone's home, to a new hotel on the Las Vegas strip. The role of an architect is to bring together the creative ideas and visions of their client and to keep in mind the needs of those that will be using the new space. Architects often work closely with interior designers to help attain the ambience and look that the client is after while still adhering to code and regulatory requirements.

An architect's role involves a great deal of technical knowledge and responsibility. There is a need to comply with building and safety regulations, local planning regulations and restrictions. Depending on the project, there may be laws surrounding the preservation of the local environment or any historic parts of a building. Once the project reaches the construction stage, the architect will be involved in site visits and meetings, overseeing the construction and signing off on various pieces of work, negotiating with contractors and dealing with and resolving any problems that may arise.

Education: Architects need to complete a bachelor's degree program (B.Arch) that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). A Master of Architecture (M.Arch) is open to applicants who have earned a B.Arch degree and want to specialize in historic preservation, design theory, solar design, or another related field.

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