Interior Design 101

After one too many attempts, at explaining the differences that sum up the world of interiors, I felt compelled to start out this Phinomenon blog with a brief clarification of the different facets of interior design.

I clearly remember how during my first session of interior design, my academic advisor (shout out to the legendary Prof. Kimberly Burke) went out her way to explain that if we chose this course (Interior Architectural Design), because we loved watching HGTV and matching fabric and paint samples, then we should just head home, since we didn’t need a degree for that. At the time we just laughed it off, but ten plus years later, I’m still tasked with explaining my contribution to the world of interiors, every time a client calls.

Exhibit 1: “I would like to change me curtains (and/or cushions), kindly come look at my space”

This, my friends, is what I normally categorize as Interior Decor or the soft end of interiors. Though appealing to the eye, and usually considered the face of interiors, Interior Decor is by far at the tail end of what we do. For starters, the last thing on one’s mind when planning a space is what colour the walls are, and what type of finish will be used on the flooring.

Exhibit 2: “This property and fittings are old and I just don’t like where this and that is placed”

Most renovation projects fall under this category commonly referred to as Interior Construction/Interior Fit-out, or the hard end of interiors. For the most part, one is tasked with updating the fittings (plumbing and electrical lines aren’t exempt), possibly bringing down a couple of walls and unless you have shares at City Hall/County Council, a permit to carry out the said renovations. I advise many to steer clear unless they can identify a load bearing/structural wall with their eyes closed and based off the age of the building, can tell where the plumbing and electrical lines are. Assumptions or hunches mostly lead to disaster.

Exhibit 3: “We have this space and would like to set up this, can you help?”

This now brings us to the last and least understood facet of interiors, Interior Architecture also known as the technical end of interiors. Be it site plans that need to be generated, a floor plan that needs to be re-worked, a space that needs to be planned or concept renders that need to be pitched (developers, you know yourselves) we are the people to call. At this juncture, all we have is a blank canvas (within or without the confines of walls) and the luxury to let our creativity run wild. Many man hours spent behind a computer working with the same commands to create something unique and the joy of seeing our “babies” morph before our eyes.

As you can see, at the beginning of any design process, colours and textures are the least of our worries, but we eventually get to it when coming up with the material specifications for the end product or final design proposal.

In a nutshell, I hope this helps clear up the confusion, and next time you need the services of an interior designer, remember to ask them what they specialize in.

After all, Interior Architectural Design Is Our Speciality!

Till next time…Baraka Tele

Fiona Odhiambo

Fiona Odhiambo

FIONA is the Principal and Lead Interior Design Consultant of Phi Interior Designers. With a passion for design and the world of interiors, service and mentorship, she has over eleven (11) years’ experience in building consultancy, interior architectural design, project management and planning on CAD programs

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