Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m an interior designer. This comment is immediately followed by “you’re an interior decorator? cool! do you love Trading Spaces?”. And then I scream.
I’m writing this post not to downplay the immense talents of interior decorators, but to inform everyone of the stark differences between designers and decorators. Both careers are very reputable, but if you’re a designer, one of the most frustrating things is to be called a decorator. Thus, my post. :P
I am a commercial interior designer. Basically, I design the interior layout of walls, doors, electrical and lighting in a commercial space (office, retail, medical offices, etc). What this means is that we do the space planning for an office, making sure that the space meets all egress, accessibility, and building codes – if the shizz went down, all types of people could get out of the space safely. We also coordinate with our engineers to provide electrical/plumbing/mechanical drawings for the space so that it can pass permit review and ultimately be built out. Interior Designers also have a basic knowledge of building construction – we’re interior architects, without the knowledge of physics, etc. to construct a building that won’t fall down (and without the arrogance – zing!). Designers also have to be licensed to practice interior design legally. Since we’re basically responsible for the safety of people in their places of work, entertainment, etc. the government likes us to know what we’re doing. :)
Decorators are another entity altogether. I would consider them more of an artist than a designer is because their focus is completely on the aesthetic of a space. Interior Designers are also responsible for making the space visually pleasing, but this is only one piece of our repertoire. Decorators don’t make any structural changes to the space that will effect the safety of the people inside, so they don’t have to be licensed to practice. They create beautiful spaces that incorporate color theory, scale and balance, textures and patterns – all things I greatly admire. Designers create, decorators….decorate! Simple as that.
If this post comes off sounding pompous, it’s certainly not what I intended. After 4 years of college and several certification tests later, it’s just nice to hear someone refer to me as a designer and not a decorator. So now that you’ve read my rant, I hope you don’t ask if I’m trying out for Design Star or if I hang drapes for a living. I’ll scream. :P