Differences between Interior Design and Interior Architecture Companies

Differences between Interior Design and Interior Architecture

For quite a while, the debate as to the differences between interior design services and interior architecture has gathered a large number of professionals and experts from the industry and accumulated many good arguments to separate one term from the other. It’s getting more difficult because, in many modern architectural projects, the two are so strongly connected that clear distinguishing features have become more blurred. There seem to be more similarities than differences. For example, both revolve around the interior part of a structure and the professionals of the two disciplines sometimes have overlapping responsibilities.

Interior Design

The general consensus is that interior design is part of architectural work and deals with how an interior space incorporates aesthetic and artistic aspects more than it does functionality. It’s all about the visual appeal of interior elements such as flooring, furniture, walls, windows, ceiling, artwork, etc. However, to say that 3D architectural visualization services only concern themselves with appearance is an underestimation of its scope of work. 

Interior designer responsibilities

Among the biggest differences between an architectural BIM service and an interior architect is how and when each starts a project. Interior designers may begin a project either before a structure exists or when the building has already been constructed. They start by assessing the clients’ needs and objectives, which most likely include descriptions of how they want to use the room (or any interior space for that matter) and specific interior style to implement.

Based on the assessment, it is an interior designer’s responsibility to make the space aesthetically pleasing and comfortable without undermining its intended functionality. A general analysis of the building’s architectural style is often necessary because the interior must complement the overall design unless the clients have their own preferences.


Most modern interior designers also work using CAD and BIM to draw 2D and 3D plans. They sketch ideas and research materials after getting enough information from the clients. The digital drawing usually features floor plans, plumbing layouts, HVAC and electrical systems, furniture and lighting specifications, and materials for the flooring and walls.

Architectural design and planning services also have the responsibility to obtain the necessary building permits from a regulatory agency, order materials, and estimate cost and completion time. To get the job done in the most efficient way possible within a timeframe, an interior designer typically seeks out small teams of contractors with different specializations, such as plumbing installation and HVAC systems, to name a few. Assuming the project requires woodworking or masonic works, one of the hired teams may include a carpenter and construction worker.

Throughout the project, interior designers act as managers who oversee every installation related to the plan, although sometimes they may perform some of the works themselves. Some interior designers have certain areas of specialization. For example, bathroom, kitchen, office space, bedroom, and even the basement for residential or corporate buildings. Some generalists offer their services for all kinds of remodeling in any structure.

Interior architecture

A major focus of interior architecture is the functionality of spaces inside a structure for human occupancy. It’s the discipline that blends science and art to create, convert, reshape, remake, or restore interior spaces in both residential and commercial buildings. It emphasizes the structural aspect of a building rather than aesthetics, although appearance remains a big factor to consider in the planning.

Interior architect responsibilities

Appearance is a consideration, but the main responsibility of an interior architect is to ensure structural safety, compliance with building codes, and sustainable design. When the job site is an existing building, the work may involve demolishing the existing structure and starting fresh. A new residential design service occupies one of the top occupational positions in a construction project and is responsible for important work. While interior architecture points to a specific discipline, the scope of work for the specialized architect in-charge of the project is as vast as any other in the industry.


For example, in an interior project of a high-profile building commissioned by a large organization, the architect is responsible for production drawings, specifications, construction documents, CAD, BIM, and project management. All those tasks cover much more specific fields such as energy conservation, urban planning, historic preservation, site planning, facilities management, and environmental impacts of the project.

On a much smaller scale, for work such as an interior project commissioned by a homeowner, the job description may not be as complex. Regardless of the scale, however, an interior architect is expected to discover creative problem-solving solutions to tackle challenges in the project.

Architects who design interiors

The credentials matter a lot. Not just anybody can call themselves an “architect” because the designation of the term is a regulated and protected profession. All freelance 3D architectural animation services must hold relevant degree qualifications. The term “interior designer” is somewhat a loose designation on the other hand. Practitioners broadly use it with varying skill levels. Considering their credentials and typical scope of responsibilities, architects can expand their services to encompass a building’s interior.

In fact, they often do, as seen in integral elements such as flooring, doors, windows, bathrooms, lighting, and perhaps simple decorative items. As long as the elements are integral and affect the building’s structural integrity, an architect can almost always cover an interior designer’s works on those particular elements. You probably have seen architects’ portfolios that showcase simple interior schemes with a minimalistic bathroom and kitchen style approach. The architects offered the service as requested by individual clients, or the service is indeed included in the package.

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Once again, considering the range of responsibilities in a typical construction project, an architect more likely has a broader understanding of how a building should be made and how it should look when completed. They never have to call themselves “interior architects” unless there is a need for such a specialization. For example, an architect can perform works on a building’s spatial planning, mechanical engineering, electrical installation, airflow, natural and artificial lighting, and perhaps auditory experience in a multimedia room – all in addition to aesthetical enhancement of the building’s interior space.

Drawing the line

Interior architects and architectural detailing services have different roles and responsibilities, despite several overlapping ones. The differences are not contradictory by any means. They are complementary to each other, and because of that, both professions are well aware of the value of collaboration. As an additional benefit, working together helps bring interior designers more closely related to the project as a whole and encourages them to contribute to problem-solving, especially when the challenges ahead require a specialized approach.

The two practices are intrinsic to each other during the construction stages. Robust collaboration throughout the construction project eliminates the possibility of a gap or any conflicting approach to the interior.

Cad Crowd’s specialists are here to help

At Cad Crowd, we have the privilege of working with hundreds of the best interior designers and architects available. If you’re looking for help with your project, get a free quote today.