Skip Navigation Links
Skip Navigation LinksHome > By Career > Media, Films, Mass Communications > Interior Designing
Interior design
Interior design describes a group of various yet related projects that involve turning an interior space into an effective setting for the range of human activities are to take place there.[1] An interior designer is someone who conducts such projects. Interior design is a multifaceted profession that includes conceptual development, liaising with the stakeholders of a project and the management and execution of the design.

History of the Interior Design Profession

In the past, Interiors were put together instinctively as a part of the process of building.The profession of interior design has been a consequence of the development of society and the complex architecture that has resulted from the development of industrial processes. The pursuit of effective use of space, user well-being and functional design has contributed to the development of the contemporary interior design profession.

Throughout the 18th century and into the early 19th Century, interior decoration was the concern of the homemaker or, in well of families an upholsterer or craftsman may influence the style of the interior space. Architects would also employ craftsmen or artisans to complete interior design for their buildings. Towards the end of the 19th century interior decorating emerged as a profession in the Western world. This was due to various actions, particularly by women, to professionalise the homemaking process. Elsie De Wolfe has been credited with the creation of the interior decorating profession.[3] Having successfully re-designed her own home, De Wolfe began offering her services to other people within her social circle. As people began offering interior decoration as a service the professionalization of this service gained momentum.

An electric wire reel reused like a center table in a Rio de Janeiro decoration fair.

This movement towards professionalization was reinforced by the publication of books on the subject. Publications include the book Suggestions for House Decoration in Painting, Woodwork and Furniture (1876) by Anges and Rhoda Garrett, Elsie De Wolfe’s The House in Good Taste (1913) and articles by Candice Wheeler such as Principles of Home Decoration with Practical Examples (1903). Most of the books were published by women and clearly suggested the profession was within the women’s domain, E.g. The two-part article Interior Decoration as a Profession for Women (1895), written by Candice Wheeler. As previously mentioned, before formal interior decorators evolved the job was the concern of craftsmen or upholsterers. This means that many ‘decorators’ at this time were dealers in the elements needed for interiors. This called into question the qualifications of the decorator and their standing as an independent advisor. This gave term interior decorator negative connotations for some, as a painter or curtain sales person can be a self-appointed decorator. Hence, the decorators favoured term Interior Designer. Interior design has now developed past the point of decoration and the terms, although overlapping, are distinct.

The most prominent development of the interior design profession was after World War II. From the 1950s onwards spending on the home increased. Interior design courses were established, requiring the publication of textbooks and reference sources. Historical accounts of interior designers and firms distinct from the decorative arts specialists were made available. While organisations to regulate education, qualifications, standards and practices, etc were established for the profession.

Interior Design was previously seen as playing a secondary role to architecture. It also has many connections to other design disciplines, involving the work of architects, industrial designers, engineers, builders, craftsmen, etc. For these reasons the government of interior design standards and qualifications was often incorporated into other professional organisations that involved design. Organisations such as the Chartered Society of Designers, established in the UK in 1986, and the American Designers Institute, founded in 1938, were established as organisations that governed various areas of design. It was not until later that specific representation for the interior design profession was developed. The US National Society of Interior Designers was established in 1957, while in the UK the Interior Decorators and Designers Association was established in 1966. Across Europe, other organisations such as The Finnish Association of Interior Architects (1949) were being established and in 1994 the International Interior Design Association was founded.

Ellen Mazur Thomson, author of Origins of Graphic Design in America (1997), determined that professional status is achieved through education, self-imposed standards and professional gate-keeping organisations. Having achieved this, interior design became an accepted profession.

Interior Decorators and Interior Designer

The profession of interior design is not clearly defined and projects undertaken by an interior designer vary widely. Terms such as decorator and designer are often used interchangeably. However, there is a distinction between the terms.

Interior Decorator

The term Interior Decorator emerged in the late nineteenth an early twentieth centuries. It applied to those practitioners who specialise in arranging interiors in various styles. In this context style refers to a composition based on an image of a certain idea, time, place, etc. For example: Victorian, Georgian, Art Deco, Modernist, etc. The term Interior decorator also suggests a focus on designing the ornamental and the movable aspects of the interior such as the colour, furniture, furnishings, mouldings and panelling.

Interior Designer

Interior Designer implies that there is more of an emphasis on planning, functional design and effective use of space involved in this profession, as compared to interior decorating. An interior designer can undertake projects that include arranging the basic layout of spaces within a building as well as projects that require an understanding of technical issues such as acoustics, lighting, temperature, etc.[12] Although an interior designer may create the layout of a space, they may not build the space without having their designs stamped for approval by an architect, which is why many interior designers also complete school to become architects as well. An interior designer may wish to specialize in a particular type of interior design in order to develop technical knowledge specific to that area. Types of interior design include residential design, commercial design, universal design, exhibition design, spatial branding, etc.

Interior Design Specialties


Residential design is the design of the interior of private residences. As this type design is very specific for individual situations the needs and wants of the individual are paramount in this area of Interior Design. The interior designer may work on the project from the initial planning stage or may work on the remodelling of an existing structure.


Commercial design encompasses a wide range of sub specialties.
• Retail: includes malls and shopping centres, department stores, specialty stores, visual merchandising and showrooms.
• Visual and Spatial Branding: The use of space as a media to express the Corporate Brand
• Corporate: office design for any kind of business
• Healthcare: the design of hospitals, assisted living facilities, medical offices, dentist offices, psychiatric facilities, laboratories, medical specialist facilities
• Hospitality and Recreation: includes hotels, motels, resorts, cafes, bars, restaurants, health clubs and spas, etc
• Institutional: government offices, financial institutions (banks and credit unions), schools and universities, religious facilities, etc
• Industrial facilities: manufacturing and training facilities as well as import and export facilities.


Other areas of specialisation include museum and exhibition design, event design (including ceremonies, conventions and concerts), theatre and performance design, production design for film and television.



There are various paths that one can take to become a professional interior designer. All of these paths involve some form of training. Working with a successful professional designer is an informal method of training and has previously been the most common method of education. Real-life experience can gradually build skills that professional design work demands.[15] Training through an institution such as a college, art or design school or university is a more formal route to professional practice. A formal education program, particularly one accredited by or developed with a professional organisation of interior designers, can provide training that is associated meets a minimum standard of excellence and therefore gives a student an education of a high standard. Supervised practical experience in a design firm after formal training produces develops skills further and results in one being a highly skilled designer. While one can become an interior designer without formal training, the knowledge and skills attained through structured education allows a designer to be better prepared in a competitive job market.

Working conditions

There are a wide range of working conditions and employment opportunities within interior design. Large and tiny corporations often hire interior designers as employees on regular working hours. Designers for smaller firms usually work on a contract or per-job basis. Self-employed designers, which make up 26% of interior designers,[17] usually work the most hours. Interior designers often work under stress to meet deadlines, stay on budget, and meet clients' needs. In some cases, licensed professionals review the work and sign it before submitting the design for approval by clients or construction permisioning. The need for licensed review and signature varies by locality, relevant legislation, and scope of work. Their work can involve significant travel to visit different locations, however with technology development, the process of contacting clients and communicating design alternatives has become easier and requires less travel. They also renovate a space to satisfy the specific taste for a client.


Interior design earnings vary based on employer, number of years with experience, and the reputation of the individual. For residential projects, self-employed interior designers usually earn a per-hour fee plus a percentage of the total cost of furniture, lighting, artwork, and other design elements. For commercial projects, they may charge per-hour fees, or a flat fee for the whole project. The median annual earning for wage and salary interior designers, in the year 2006, was $42,260. The middle 50% earned between $31,830 and $57,230. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,760.[19][20] For example, if a person opens a business and decides to specialize in furniture design and flooring, they will get only clients focusing on these topics rather than a variety of every type of issue that comes with designing a home.

Interior styles

A style, or theme, is a consistent idea used throughout a room to create a feeling of completeness. Styles are not to be confused with design concepts, or the higher-level party, which involve a deeper understanding of the architectural context, the socio-cultural and the programmatic requirements of the client. These themes often follow period styles. Examples of this are Louis XV, Louis XVI, Victorian, Islamic, Feng Shui, International, Mid-Century Modern, Minimalist, English Georgian, Gothic, Indian Mughal, Art Deco, and many more.

The evolution of interior decoration themes has now grown to include themes not necessarily consistent with a specific period style allowing the mixing of pieces from different periods. Each element should contribute to form, function, or both and maintain a consistent standard of quality and combine to create the desired design. A designer develops a home architecture and interior design for a customer that has a style and theme that the prospective owner likes and mentally connects to. For the last 10 years, decorators, designers, and architects have been re-discovering the unique furniture that was developed post-war of the 1950s and the 1960s from new material that were developed for military applications. Some of the trendsetters include Charles and Ray Eames, Knoll and Herman Miller. Themes in home design are usually not overused, but serves as a guideline for designing.

Contemporary style design at Expo Design MAP (2007)
Art Deco Style in Interior Design

The Art Deco began in Europe in the early year of 20th but was not so popular until World WarⅠ. The team ‘Art Deco’ was taken from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which was a world’s fair held in Paris in 1925.[21] Art Deco rejected many traditional classical influences in favour of more streamlined, geometric forms and metallic colour. The Art Deco style influenced all areas of design, especially for interior design, because it was the first truly modern style of interior decoration in its use of new technologies and materials. This article will analysis the main features of Art Deco style in interior design by focus on the structure, material and colour, and also will mentions the Art Deco style in furniture and lighting design which are the two indispensable parts of interior design.

Art Deco style is mainly structured on mathematical geometric shapes, the most common being triangles, rectangles, circles and squares. The elegant and strong geometric forms consist of well-defined lines that provide clean shapes. The streamlined or curvilinear geometric shapes including stepped shapes, sweeping curves and rounded corner emphasize the streamlining

style. The well-maintained Muswell Hill Odeon was an Art Deco style interior. Its lighting fixtures are very attractive, especially the illuminated ribbon running down the middle of the ceiling to the top of the screen, which create a charming streamlining structure with well-defined lines, and the circular light be placed in the recessed ceiling area provide a clean shape.[25] For the Art Deco interior design is primarily characterized by the inclusion of a mixture of geometrical shapes, angular edges and clean lines into furniture, accessories and interior wall structures. The geometrical shapes, angular edges and clean lines of the Art Deco interior design style, offer a sharp, cool look of mechanized living. The spacious lounge of Chicago’s 1929 Powhatan apartments which designed by Robert S. Degolyer and Charles L. Morgan was an Art Deco style interior with geometric element. These apartments note the geometric patterns on the ceiling’s light panels, as well as on the mouldings, grilles and pelmet. All of these geometric patterns provide by sharp angles and well-define lines that give the whole space a clean and elegant looking.

As the influence of industrial power, the Art Deco has to be seemed as one of the most exciting decorative style of the century.[27] The Art Deco reject the traditional materials of decoration and interior design, instead option to use more unusual materials such as chrome, glass, stainless steel, shiny fabrics, mirrors, aluminium, lacquer, inlaid wood, sharkskin, and zebra skin.[28] Stemming from this use of harder, metallic materials is the celebration of the machine age. Some of the materials used in art deco style interiors are direct reflection of the time period. Materials like stainless steel, aluminium, lacquer, and inlaid woods all reflect the modern age that was ushered in after the end of the World WarⅠ,and the steel and aluminium also reflect the growing aviation movement of the time. The innovative combinations of these materials create theatrical contrasts which were very popular at the end of the 1920s and during the 1930s, for example, the mixing highly polished wood and black lacquer with satin and furs.[29] The barber shop in the Austin Reed store in London was designed by P. J. Westwood. It was the trendiest barber shop in Britain by using metallic materials. The whole barber shop was a gleaming ovoid space of mirrors, marble, chrome and frosted glass. The most exciting design was the undulating waves lighting fixture that forming by the continuous arcs of neon tubing, and support by chrome structure. The used of new technologies and materials emphasis the feature of Art Deco style.

The popular colour themes in Art Deco consist of metallic colour, neutral colour, bright colour and, black and white. The primary colour use of Art Deco interior design is predominant by cool metallic colours including silver, gold, metallic blue, charcoal grey and platinum.[31] These metallic colours not only create a shiny and glitz look to express the wealth and prosperity of the times, but also emphasis the look of Art Deco interior design by giving life to the numerous geometrical shapes that defines this style.[32] Serge Chermayeff is a Russian designer who made extensive use of cool metallic colours and luxurious surfaces in his room schemes. The 1930 showroom for a British dressmaking firm has silver-grey background and black mirrored-glass wall panels which created a typical Art Deco of metallic look.[33] Art Deco style colour schemes started out with neutral colours such as beige, taupe, cream and medium brown. These neutral colours can easily achieve the feeling about streamlined and modern look.[34] The black and white was also a very popular colour scheme during the 1920s and 1930s, like the black and white checkerboard tiles, floors and wallpapers were very trendy in that times.[35] As the style developed, bright vibrant colours became popular as well.[36] For interior design, Art Deco incorporates a variety of creative colour combinations into its decor.[37] The walls were often painted with a glossy finish to highlight the brightness of the Art Deco style. The colours were usually use plain and neutral colours with the bold, stylized and metallic patterns.[38] The practice of painting each wall in a different colour is very common in the Art Deco style of interior design.

Since the furniture and lighting fixture are the very significant parts of interior design, the features of Art Deco style also work the same in furniture and lighting design as well. Art Deco Furnishings and lighting fixtures have a glossy, luxurious appearance. Art Deco is a streamlined, geometric style which often includes furniture pieces with curved edges, geometric shapes and clean lines.[40] Art deco furniture use glossy and shiny with inlaid wood and reflective finishes. The materials of chrome, aluminium, glass, mirrors and lacquered wood can create glossy and brilliant surfaces that define this style.[41] Art Deco lighting fixtures often make use of the stacked geometric patterns. Most fixtures were made from polished bronze, chrome or steel in order to create that shiny, sleek look that was most associated with Art Deco
College Detail View