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What to Expect from a Career in Interior Design

What to Expect from a Career in Interior Design

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

Nature of the Work

Interior designers draw upon many disciplines to enhance the function, safety, and aesthetics of interior spaces. Interior designers are concerned with how different colors, textures, furniture, lighting, and space work together to meet the needs of a building’s occupants. Designers are involved in planning the interior spaces of almost all buildings—offices, airport terminals, theaters, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and private residences. Designers help to improve these spaces in order to boost office productivity, increase sales, attract a more affluent clientele, provide a more relaxing hospital stay, or increase the building’s market value.

Traditionally, most interior designers focused on decorating: choosing a style and color palette and then selecting appropriate furniture, floor and window coverings, artwork, and lighting. However, an increasing number of designers are becoming more involved in designing architectural detailing, such as crown molding and built-in bookshelves, or planning layouts of buildings undergoing renovation, including helping to determine the location of windows, stairways, escalators, and walkways. Interior designers must be able to read blueprints, understand building and fire codes, and know how to make the space accessible to the disabled. Designers frequently collaborate with architects, electricians, and building contractors to ensure that their designs are safe and meet construction requirements.

Despite the varied building spaces interior designers work with, almost all projects follow the same design process. The first step in developing a new design is to determine the needs of the client, known as programming. The designer usually will meet face-to-face with the client in order to find out how the space will be used and to get an idea of the client’s design preferences and budget. For example, the designer might inquire about a family’s cooking habits if the family is remodeling a kitchen or ask about a store or restaurant’s target customer in order to pick an appropriate design. The designer also will visit the space and take inventory of the existing furniture and equipment as well as identify the any potential design problems and the positive attributes of the space.

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