Education, Education, Education
When it comes to interior design, qualified professionals hold degrees from accredited colleges and Universities. In order to obtain these degrees, interior designers must study at an accredited university for 4 years. In addition, bachelors and doctorates degrees in interior design also require the completion of an internship. This internship is supervised while working in a large design firm or under the direct supervision of an individual practitioner. This provides a structured, corporate environment either for residential or commercial practice, while the student learns under the supervision of other professional designers or architects.
However, some individuals call themselves “Interior Designers”, even though they lack educational training on the subject. To be fair, I am not trying to downgrade or discredit practicing decorators, as they provide useful services in many aspects of decorative design.
Interior Designers vs. Decorators
Those who do not have a degree from an accredited university are called decorators. They do not hold a diploma that gives them the “interior designer” title and have not completed the requisite education level.
No one questions whether or not these decorators are capable of creating beautiful and elegant spaces. However, due to their lack of the required professional practice education, it is hard to believe that they have the knowledge to make decisions regarding local laws, regulations, codes, safety and use of materials application. They might not understand the elements of design in areas of sustainability, ADA requirements, BOCA codes requirements, HVAC systems, electrical and mechanical, estate/county regulations, toxic emission knowledge from surface applications, as well as, structural understandings between a wood frame built space or a concrete/steel construction. A decorator does not have the educational background to decide whether or not you can move a wall without compromising its structural safety. These are some of the many responsibilities we undertake when making a big decision for your home, retail space or office. In short, safety, regulations and codes are a big part of practicing interior design. Thus, the client must always ask questions beyond the color, chair or fabric they would like to have in their home. The years in practice a design professional has under his belt is as valuable as where they obtained their degree and internship experience.