Interior design concerns itself with more than just the visual or ambient enhancement of an interior space, it seeks to optimize and harmonize the uses to which the interior environment will be put.
Many factors come into play in formulating the design solution. There is the space itself–its dimensions and construction–with its potential and its limitations. There is how the space will be used–for work or leisure, entertainment or worship, healing or learning. There is the meaning of the space, what it signifies–be it power, authority, security, wisdom, achievement, playfulness or serenity. There are practical considerations, like ease of access, amount of light, acoustics, seating and places to store or set things down. There are health and safety considerations, attention to special needs and more.
For more information, see the definition of interior design developed by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification.
Designers often specialize in one or more specific types of interior design.Â Some designers specialize in only residential or commercial (or, contract) projects, but many designers do both residential and commercial projects of various kinds.
Residential interior design focuses on the design, professional design team coordination, planning, budgeting, specifying/purchasing and furnishings installation of private homes, including the specialty areas of the kitchen, bath, home theater, home office, and custom product design. Interior projects include new construction, renovation, historic renovation and model homes, with expertise in universal and sustainable design.
Commercial, sometimes also referred to as contract, design focuses on the design, professional design team coordination, planning, budgeting, specifying/purchasing and furnishings installation of interior environments used for commercial, government or educational purposes.Â
Many designers specialize in one or more of the following areas of commercial design.
Entertainment design brings together the use of interiors, lighting, sound and other technologies for movies, television, videos, dramatic and musical theater, clubs, concerts, theme parks and industrial projects.
• Facilities Management
A facilities manager develops schedules for building upkeep and maintenance, addressing safety and health issues and lighting and acoustics needs. A facilities manager also plans and coordinates office moves or expansions, and serves as project manager during construction or renovation.
A government designer is familiar with the very specific needs and requirements associated with working with government agencies, such as military bases, federal buildings or government offices. An institutional designer focuses on projects such as child care, educational, religious, correctional and recreational facilities, fire and police stations, courts, embassies, libraries, auditoriums, museums and transportation terminals.
• Health Care
Health care designers create environments for hospitals; clinics; examination rooms; surgical suites; mobile units; hospice care homes; nursing, assisted living or long term care facilities; or any other health care environment.
Hospitality design focuses on environments that entertain or host the public, including nightclubs, restaurants, theaters, hotels, city and country clubs, golf facilities, cruise ships and conference facilities.
Office design focuses on the public and private areas utilized by corporate and professional service firms.
• Retail/Store Planning
Retail design and store planning concentrate on retail venues, including boutiques, department stores, outlets, showrooms, food retailing centers and shopping malls.
The following are not design specialties but rather approaches to design that cut across design specialties.
Also referred to as “green” design or “eco-design,” sustainable design is concerned with the environmental/ecological, economic, ethical and social aspects and impacts of design.
An extension of “barrier-free” design, universal design employs products and solutions originally developed for individuals with disabilities to increase ease of use, access, safety and comfort for all users.