Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Interior Designer or Decorator? - Yes, There IS a Difference

After all that differentiating between the terms design and decorating, we're still left with the questions:

"Is there a difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator? And if so, which one should I hire?"

Since we determined that there is in fact a difference between design and decorating, I think it's safe to say that "yes" there is also a difference between a designer and a decorator.

In an earlier post I stated that:

Designers design and decorators decorate.

But now that we've thoroughly explored the difference between design and decoration, I think it makes more sense to say:

Designers design AND decorate, while decorators just decorate.

When we defined design, we said it's a process and that decorating is the final step in that process. Given this, I would define a designer as someone who engages in that process and concentrates on the project as a whole - someone who is equally concerned with the functional aspect as well as the look of the entire space.

Through the use of concept, floor plans, elevations, photos, samples, details, renderings, etc...A designer will present you with a complete vision and a plan to achieve that vision (subject to your approval) before your project ever even begins.

A decorator would be someone who concentrates on applying products and materials to the room and is pulling it all together as they go, taking it one piece at a time. In other words, they've not gone through the design process and are not operating from a cohesive plan. They are more concerned with the individual elements of a room and how they look.

Let me just say for the record:

There is nothing wrong with this approach IF, as the client, you are comfortable with it. Your project might not require all the steps of the design process. That's up to you to decide.

So should you hire a designer or a decorator? We'll wade into that next week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sharing Design Philosopy

I would like to interrupt my regularly scheduled THREAD to share a very interesting article from Fast Company, entitled "Pinterest's Founding Designer Shares His Dead-Simple Design Philosophy" by Sahil Lavingia.  I know this is not the post that I promised this week, however I believe that Lavingia's insights about design dovetail nicely with what we have been discussing the past few weeks.

Although my views are specific to interior design, and his come from a web design perspective, Lavingia hits several of the same points that I have been trying to convey about design in general.  You can read the whole article here (and I highly recommend that you do).

The following are snipets from the article that I consider most relevant to our discussion:

"Design shouldn't be designated a specific function or industry."

"Design is shrinking the gap between what a product does and why it exists."

"Stop thinking about design in terms of ...visual style; it is about the product as a whole.  Designing is figuring out the purpose of your product and how you orient everything else around it."

[For our purposes, the "product" is our interior space].

"Good design is using reason to make decisions and to solve problems."

"Every man-made object you use in real life is designed, from forks and desks to keyboards and grocery bags and are the culminations of many hours of thinking and many more hours of trial and error."

[Emphasis mine - Remember in my previous post I talked about design, as a verb, being a thoughtful (aka thinking) process which culminates in the design, as a noun, of a space].

There is also a really great point made in the "Comments" section below the article that states:

"Good design is something you don't see but miss when it's not there."  by Juleeane Zett

Well said...I couldn't agree more!

I hope you'll take the time to read the entire article for its really insightful perspective on design.  Next week I'll resume with our current THREAD and attemp to answer what's the difference between a designer and a decorator...I have a feeling I'll be referring to this article!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Design or Decorate - The Sequel

Can the terms "Design" and "Decorate" be used interchangeably?  We've already established that they are, all the time.  Should the terms be used interchangeably?...I say no.

Last week I explained the difference between the two when used in the verb tense.  Today let's take a look at the difference when being used as nouns, which is even more elusive.  Take these two statements:

"I love the design of that room!" OR "I love the decoration of that room!"

They seem pretty much the same right?  Both terms are referring to the final outcome of that room. But there is a slight difference in that design really means the culmination of the entire design process. Whereas decoration is more reflective of the individual products, finishes, and materials that have been applied to the room.

But let's face it, nobody (including me) is going to take the time to analyze which of these two things they're really trying to say.  In noun form the difference is so minimal that it's almost non-existent anyway.  Plus you would have to know if there was even a design process involved to begin with.  It is possible to decorate a room, on the fly, without going through any real process at all...I wouldn't recommend this, but it is possible.

So what have we learned:

Design (v.) is the BIG Picture process of planning that results in the overall design (n.) of a completed space.

Decorating (v.) is the final step of the design process. It is the physical execution of the details as specified by that process. The application of individual products, finishes, and materials to a space results in its decoration (n.).

The difference between the terms is very subtle, but different none the less!

Which leads us to our next big question:

"So then what is the difference between interior designers and interior decorators?"

Tune in next week as I attempt to answer!