From Designer to Architect: Achieving Interior Excellence

An interior designer can become an interior architect. However, they need to pursue additional education and training to become licensed and legally allowed to call themselves interior architects.

Interior design is a creative field that involves designing and decorating the interior spaces of buildings. On the other hand, interior architecture focuses on designing and planning the structure and functionality of interior spaces within a building. Both professions require a high level of creativity and technical skill, but the main difference lies in the level of structural planning involved.

While interior designers may focus more on aesthetics and decor, interior architects plan and design the actual structure of the space. We will explore the steps an interior designer can take to become an interior architect.

The Difference Between A Designer and An Architect

Interior design and interior architecture have similarities, but they are not the same thing. A homeowner may try to hire a designer to handle the interior decoration and architectural aspects of a project, but it’s important to understand that a designer does not legally possess the qualifications to handle architectural work.

Opportunities for interior designers to specialize in interior architecture

Education and Training

One of the key differences between interior designing and architecture centers around the required education and training. Interior designers usually have a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts or Design. In contrast, architects need a degree in architecture to work legally and even get certified by their state regulatory agency. The education and training required to become an architect is generally more focused and extensive than that of an interior designer, emphasizing the scientific and technical aspects of building design.

Legal Requirements

Interior designers and architects have different legal requirements. In most jurisdictions, architects must be licensed to practice and to legally call themselves “architects.” The title itself is protected by law and can only be used by people with the appropriate qualifications. On the other hand, the requirements to get a license and call oneself an interior designer vary depending on the state, but they are generally less strict than those for architects.

Scope of Work

Interior designers deal with the aesthetics, style, and functionality of a room or space, whereas architects focus on the entire structure and even work outside of buildings. Interior designers work with furniture, color palettes, and fabric, while architects design and supervise the entire building process, including planning, designing, and construction to ensure structural stability and safety.

The Benefits of Hiring an Architect

Architects bring a skill set that is not limited to the aesthetics of a space. They are responsible for designing and planning, ensuring safety and functionality, and making the most of any given space. While an interior designer can have some overlapping skills, becoming an interior architect requires additional education and specialized training.

Detailed Planning

Interior designers have an eye for aesthetics and can create beautiful spaces, but interior architects bring more to the table. The first benefit of hiring an architect is detailed planning. Architects possess the skills and knowledge needed to understand the structure of a building and how to best utilize the space available. This skill set allows architects to provide a more comprehensive plan for interior design.

Maximizing Space and Functionality

One of the greatest benefits of hiring an interior architect is their skill in maximizing space and functionality. Architects understand how to use space efficiently and how to design spaces that cater to the needs of everyone who will be using them. By hiring an architect, you can rest assured that your space will not only look beautiful but will be functional as well.

Sustainability and Environmental Considerations

Another benefit of hiring an architect is their focus on sustainability and environmental considerations. Architects understand the importance of designing spaces that are environmentally friendly and support sustainable living. They can advise on the best materials to use, how to reduce waste and energy consumption, and how to create a more sustainable space. Overall, hiring an interior architect provides more benefits than hiring an interior designer alone. Architects can assist with detailed planning, maximizing space and functionality, and sustainability and environmental considerations, resulting in a space that not only looks beautiful but also functions well and supports a sustainable future.

The Importance of Collaboration

Interior design and architecture are two professions known to the world of design, but both have different roles in creating beautiful and functional spaces. However, there is often confusion about whether an interior designer can become an interior architect. Despite the differences, the two professions can work together to create exceptional results. Collaboration is the key to success here, and in this post, we will explore the importance of collaboration when it comes to interior design and architecture.

Working With Clients

Interior designers and architects have different areas of expertise, and each follows a unique design process. However, one thing that they share in common is the need to work closely with clients to understand their expectations and needs. Implementing the requirements of clients is pivotal for the successful outcome of interior design and architecture. Interior designers can collaborate with architects to create impressive designs that meet the client’s requirements.

Involving Other Professionals

The design process requires collaboration between many professionals to achieve the best possible results. For instance, engineers, contractors, and consultants must be involved in the early stages of a project to bring their expertise to the table. The involvement of other professionals allows for efficient communication, reducing the chances of errors, and meeting project deadlines. Interior designers and architects should work together with other professionals to bring practical and inventive solutions that are beyond their skill set.

Integration With Building Design

Interior design is just one aspect of building design, and an interior designer should always take the whole building design into account. Building systems such as lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and other elements are critical to the interior designs of the building. It’s essential to collaborate with architects to ensure that the interior designs are integrated with the building’s other systems. This involvement enables a seamless flow of work, allowing the team to create top-notch designs that are cohesive and innovative.

Developing Your Design Style

An interior designer can transition to becoming an interior architect, as both require similar design skills and knowledge. However, additional education and qualifications may be needed to become a licensed interior architect. Developing your design style can help you stand out and excel in either field.

Advancing from interior design to interior architecture

Developing Your Design Style As an interior designer contemplating a move to interior architecture, it is essential to develop a personal style that differentiates you. Identifying your strengths, drawing inspiration from designers and architects, and balancing aesthetics with practicality are key strategies that can aid in creating a unique style. Identifying Your Strengths To stand out in interior architecture, it is crucial to have a keen understanding of your skills and hone them. Evaluate your past work, analyze what you excel in, and build on them. This knowledge will give you a precise direction to guide your choices and decisions in your projects. Highlighting what makes you unique will help you stand out as an interior architect. Inspiration from Other Architects and Designers Taking inspiration from leading architects and designers is essential in building your style.

However, note that inspiration should not mean replication. It is important to use others’ work as a foundation to build upon. Take note of their techniques, material usage, and how they curate spaces. Being aware of the current trends while using them as a guide can help innovate new ideas. Balancing Aesthetics and Practicality A fundamental aspect of interior architecture is to balance aesthetics with practicality.

In addition to aesthetics, an interior architect must take into account the functionality and purpose of a space; and consider elements such as acoustics, lighting, temperature control, etc. An aesthetically pleasing structure with practicality is a well-executed design.

Building Your Portfolio and Reputation

Building a portfolio and reputation is an important aspect of becoming a successful interior architect. It helps you showcase your work and make a name for yourself in the industry. As an interior designer looking to transition to interior architecture, building a solid portfolio of work can make the difference between landing your next big project or not.

Choosing Your Projects

The essence of building a portfolio lies in the selection of projects you choose to work on. When looking to transition from interior designer to interior architect, the type and scope of projects you choose will have an impact on how you’re perceived within the industry. Consider selecting projects that challenge your skills and demonstrate your ability to design spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional. Take on projects that demonstrate your ability to think critically and solve complex design challenges.

Showcasing Your Work Effectively

The ability to showcase your work effectively is key to building a successful portfolio. Consider creating a website or using a design platform to showcase your work and design style. Ensure that your portfolio includes project summaries, photographs, 2D and 3D renderings, and detailed project descriptions. Let your creative vision and design skills shine through by ensuring that your portfolio effectively communicates the range of design services you offer.

Networking and Promoting Your Brand

One of the most effective ways of building a solid reputation within the industry is through networking and brand promotion. Attend industry events and actively participate in online design communities. Ensure that your branding is both unique and memorable, using creative logos and taglines. Develop social media accounts to showcase your portfolio and engage with clients within the industry. Remember, a successful interior architect not only does exceptional work but also has a strong personal brand.

Building a portfolio and reputation as an interior architect is an exciting but challenging journey for an interior designer. With a solid portfolio, effective showcasing of work, and a strong personal brand, you can make a successful transition and achieve your career goals.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Continuing education and professional development are the keys to a successful career transition from interior design to interior architecture. With the right training, knowledge, and experience, an interior designer can become an interior architect and expand their career opportunities.

Staying Up-to-date With Industry Trends

Interior design and architecture are constantly evolving industries. To keep up with the changing trends, an interior designer must stay informed and up-to-date with new technologies, materials, and design principles. Keeping track of industry trends through attending seminars, webinars, and trade shows can help interior designers upgrade their skills and knowledge, making them more equipped to take on more challenging projects.

Pursuing Advanced Certifications and Degrees

Advanced certifications and degrees are essential for interior designers who want to become interior architects. These credentials can help them gain a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of design and architecture, as well as earn them recognition from professional organizations. Some of the certifications and degrees that an interior designer can pursue include:

Certified Interior Designer (CID)Master of Architecture (MArch)
Certified Interior Decorator (CID)Doctor of Architecture (DArch)

Involvement in Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations is an excellent way for interior designers to gain networking opportunities, access to resources, and continuing education. Some of the organizations that an interior designer can join include:

Career shift: interior designer to interior architect
  • American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
  • International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
  • Interior Design Society (IDS)

Involvement in these organizations ensures that an interior designer remains updated on new trends, laws and regulations, and industry best practices.

Continuing education and professional development are essential for an interior designer who wants to transition into an interior architect. By keeping up-to-date with industry trends, pursuing advanced certifications and degrees, and getting involved in professional organizations, an interior designer can expand their career opportunities in the interior architecture field.


To sum up, the journey of an Interior Designer to become an Interior Architect is an exciting and challenging one. It requires hard work, dedication, and advanced education to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for this highly specialized field.

However, with the right tools, experience, and attitude, anyone can make the transition successfully. Whether you decide to become an Interior Designer or an Interior Architect, the possibilities for growth and creativity are endless. So, keep learning, exploring, and expanding your horizons in this exciting and rewarding industry.

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