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Interior Designer vs. Architect: Understanding the Differences

Speaking of Interiors - Interior Designers Vs architects

Interior Designer vs. Architect: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to creating beautiful and functional spaces, both interior designers and architects play crucial roles. However, their focus and responsibilities differ significantly. Let’s explore the main differences between these two professions.


1. Core Focus: Interior Designer vs. Architects

Interior Designers:

  • Aesthetic and Human Aspects: Interior designers primarily focus on an interior space’s aesthetic and human aspects. They consider how a space will look, feel, and be used by its occupants. Their goal is to create visually appealing and functional environments – it’s all about creating the balance between beautiful and practical.
  • Finishes and Furnishings: Interior designers select colour palettes, materials, furniture, lighting, and other decorative elements to enhance the ambience. From flooring finishes and tiles to serving ware and the right plant for that corner, Interior designers will consider each space as a whole and provide you with a full scheme.
  • Adaptive Reuse: While aesthetics are essential, interior designers also consider adaptive reuse of existing spaces, making them more functional and appealing. Especially in smaller properties, we’ll ensure your spaces are versatile and can accommodate all activities there, without compromising on the final look.


  • Structural Design: Architects, on the other hand, focus on designing the actual structure of a building or space. They work on both the interior and exterior aspects.
  • Floorplans and Measurements: Their work involves complex measurements, drafting floorplans, and using computer-aided design (CAD) software. They ensure that the building is structurally safe. If the client has scoped for this, the interior designers will also collaborate with the architects on space planning and layouts to make the most of the space according to building regulations and restrictions the architect advises on.
  • Mechanical Systems Integration: Architects incorporate mechanical systems (heating, cooling, and ventilation) into their designs.
  • Collaboration with Contractors: Architects collaborate closely with contractors and builders during construction to ensure everything is developed according to plans and structural requirements. During building work, the interior designers communicate with both professionals about the finishes and specifications for the interiors for them to consider.
Interior Designer vs. Architect: Understanding the Differences Speaking of Interiors

Modern kitchen design by Speaking of Interiors for a residential project in Clapham North. Follow Speaking of Interiors on Instagram to learn more

2. Background and Qualifications: Interior Designer vs. Architects

Interior Designers:

  • Qualified interior designers often have graduated from renowned Interior Design Schools and have relevant experience in the industry. There is currently no statutory regulator for interior designers in the UK.
  • Most interior designers would have a clear understanding of basic construction and building regulations as they’ll need to consider them to specify suitable materials.
  • Some designers also become members of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID)


  • To practise as an architect in the UK, one must obtain a licence from the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Architects are part of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
  • Architects undergo extensive education, including a recognised degree in architecture and practical experience. Their training covers both design principles and technical aspects, but it is more focused on the technical side.
Interior Designer vs. Architect: Understanding the Differences Speaking of Interiors

Modern bathroom design by Speaking of Interiors for a residential project in Victoria. Follow Speaking of Interiors on Instagram to learn more

3. Costs and Job Roles: Interior Designer vs. Architects

Interior Designers:

  • Interior designers focus on aesthetics, finishes, and furnishings.
  • They work on residential, commercial, and hospitality projects.
  • Every studio has its own way of pricing the job. At Speaking of Interiors, we offer Design packages or hourly consultancy, depending on the scope and size of your project. Of course, when working with us, you get instant access to our trade discounts. Our clients tend to save 15-20% of the overall costs!
  • If your project requires minimal to no structural work, then hiring an interior designer would probably be the most savvy choice and give you the best value for money. Interior Designers will have a skillset to offer a start-to-completion property renovation service, from creating CAD drawings with the design intent and builder’s documentation to seamlessly reflecting your vision and style into your space.


  • Architects handle structural design, space planning, and overall building functionality.
  • Their costs are generally higher than interior designers.
  • Architects work on diverse residential, commercial, institutional, and public projects.
  • If your project requires sizeable structural work or is a complete property refurbishment requiring planning approval, you might want to involve both an architect and an interior designer to help you navigate the complexities of a larger project from various angles.
Expert commentary

Should hire an Interior Designer or an Architect for your project?

Interior Designer vs. Architect: Understanding the Differences Speaking of Interiors

 Johanna Endres-Castillo, Design Director at Speaking of Interiors, an award-winning boutique interior design studio in Clapham, explains it like this:

As an interior designer, I focus on the artistry and functionality within a space’s walls. Think of me as the director of a play, where the room is my stage, and I’m in charge of the scenery, the lighting, and the overall ambience. My expertise lies in selecting colour schemes, lighting, furniture, and decorative elements that reflect your personality and style. I make sure your spaces is both aesthetically pleasing and practical for your daily life.

On the other hand, an architect is like the playwright, creating the very structure of the building itself. They’re concerned with the exterior and the structural integrity, ensuring the building stands strong and meets all the necessary codes and regulations.

So, if you’re looking to transform an existing space into one that resonates with your aesthetic and functional needs, an interior designer is your go-to. But if you’re starting from the ground up, shaping the very bones of your project, an architect is your best first stop as it will lay the foundation for your vision.

In summary,

While interior designers and architects contribute to creating inspiring spaces, their roles are distinct. Interior designers focus on aesthetics and functionality, while architects handle structural design and safety. Whether redesigning your home or planning a new building, understanding these differences will help you choose the right professional for your project.

Remember, collaboration between interior designers and architects often leads to the most successful and harmonious designs. So it’s always a good idea to involve both professionals from the start in order to make the most of your property transformation journey!



About Speaking of Interiors Ltd.

We’re a small yet thriving Interior Design studio based in Clapham. We offer a range of expert, affordable and personalised services for residential and commercial projects in South West London. Would you like to discuss your project with us? Book a complimentary initial consultation call to speak to our expert team. 

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