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What I Thought Interior Design Was Vs. What Interior Design Actually Is

When I tell most people that I'm studying interior design and architecture, their eyes light up and the questions begin to flow. Sure, most, if not everyone, knows what architecture is, but interior design is a different story entirely. I decided to leap into the unknown and get back into my creative flow which meant leaving the medical field and heading into what I believe my calling to be; interior design and architecture. I thought I knew what it entailed but boy was I wrong.

Hearing the words "interior design", what do you think of? I bet it's all about the look. Interior design and interior decoration are two completely different things. I honestly had no clue because I wasn't properly exposed to the field and really only saw women taking it on. This was ignorance on my part to some degree. Allow me to provide some historical background from an assignment I did in my Modern Architecture and Interior Design class:

"During the late 19th century, Eclecticism began to dominate public building designs as well as mansions in Europe and the United States by Beaux-Arts trained architects and designers. With the government and most of society looking to create an image of prosperity, culture, and national pride, the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century saw peace, prosperity, and development around Europe and North America. Seeing the industry demand a more skilled approach during this era, this era also included the development of architecture and the birth of interior decoration as its own entity and a profession. As a result, more women enter the field along with literature promoting decorating as a "woman's profession". "

Interior design as a profession came a little later on but always carried the connotation of being a profession for women and architecture being for men. Tsk tsk tsk! Funny enough, both professions overlap quite a bit and my thought is, that by studying interior design as my undergrad first, I'll get a full understanding of the workings of the interior then when I go for my master's in architecture, I'll have more freedom and creativity to truly design an entire experience of a space/building.

The main difference between a decorator and a designer is this: a decorator uses what is already built to make it look better; a designer takes a space and can shift anything they want to craft an entire experience while making it look amazing. This is not to shit on the decorating profession at all. There is a difference though. Like many others, I thought design meant to decorate but it is much more than that and I'm forever grateful to learn the difference up close.

Are you an interior design or architecture student? Are you a design professional? Have something to add? Let's connect!


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