Interior designer

Interior designer article illustration


Interior designers design or renovate of internal spaces, including structural alterations, fixtures and fittings, lighting and colour schemes, and furnishings. They combine the efficient and functional use of space with an understanding of aesthetics.

Interior designers typically do the following:

  • develop initial ideas and acquire critical information about potential projects, discuss requirements in detail with clients (the brief) and set project schedules
  • understand clients’ needs and the needs of the people using the building to develop design concepts and establish final briefs
  • consider materials and costs according to budgets and negotiate project fees
  • conduct feasibility studies for projects
  • research and gather information and photographs relating to the project
  • produce ‘sample’ or ‘mood’ boards to present to clients
  • source products, such as fittings, furniture, lighting, finishes, decoration and dressing, and provide samples for clients
  • prepare detailed working drawings, designs, plans, models and schemes, often using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • survey buildings
  • work in a team with other designers
  • supervise work at the design stage and on site
  • work closely with quantity surveyors to establish costs and work schedules on larger projects, with architects and other design professionals to determine the best use of space, and with manufacturers and contractors
  • identify new business and sell services to potential clients
  • keep up to date with new developments in the design industry
  • act as a project manager for the client throughout the construction stage, coordinating the design on site and managing the construction team – this may be required in some roles.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to interior designer:

facility interior designer
interior & spacial designer
space planner & interior decorator
spatial design specialist
spatial design expert
interior design specialist
interior & spatial designer
designer of interiors
spatial designer
interior design expert
interior architectural designer
interior designer & planner
interior space planner
space planner
spacial designer
interiors designer

Working conditions

Interior designers usually work in an office and travel to clients’ design sites as well. They may use drafting tables to draw plans, but many designers now use computers to do that.

Interior designers work varying hours depending on their clients’ needs and schedules, project scope, and deadlines. This sometimes includes work during evening and weekend hours.

Minimum qualifications

Interior designers entering the occupation typically need a bachelor’s degree in any field, with fine arts subjects being most common. Studies should include courses in interior design, drawing, and computer-aided design (CAD).

Programs in interior design are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Applicants to these programs may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Interior designer is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Interior designer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to interior designer.

pyrotechnic designer
flying director
lighting designer
set designer
betting manager

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of interior designer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of interior designer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

furniture designer
fashion designer
digital artist
puppet designer
animal facility manager

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of interior designer.

  • Manage budgets: Plan, monitor and report on the budget.
  • Create mood boards: Create mood boards for fashion or interior design collections, gathering different sources of inspirations, sensations, trends, and textures, discussing with the people involved in the project to make sure that the shape, design, colours, and the global genre of the collections fit the order or the related artistic project.
  • Monitor sociological trends: Identify and investigate sociological trends and movements in society.
  • Translate requirement concepts into visual design: Develop visual design from given specifications and requirements, based on the analysis of the scope and target audience. Create a visual representation of ideas such as logos, website graphics, digital games and layouts.
  • Monitor textile manufacturing developments: Keep up to date with recent developments in textile manufacturing and processing techniques and technologies.
  • Use specialised design software: Developing new designs mastering specialised software.
  • Maintain an artistic portfolio: Maintain portfolios of artistic work to show styles, interests, abilities and realisations.
  • Research new ideas: Thorough research for information to develop new ideas and concepts for the design of a specific production based.
  • Manage operational budgets: Prepare, monitor and adjust operational budgets together with the economical/administrative manager/professionals in the arts institute/unit/project.
  • Monitor art scene developments: Monitor artistic events, trends, and other developments. Read recent art publications in order to develop ideas and to keep in touch with relevant art world activities.
  • Prepare detailed working drawings for interior design: Prepare sufficiently detailed working drawings or digital images using software to convey a realistic preview of the interior design project.
  • Develop a specific interior design: Develop a conceptual interior design fitting the global mood the room(s) must convey, according to the quality standards agreed on. Adhere to the order of a client for a domestic area or to the concept of an artistic production, such as a movie or a theatre play.
  • Present detailed design proposals: Prepare and present detailed design suggestions for a specific production to a mixed group of people, including technical, artistic and management staff.
  • Manage portfolio: Maintain a personal portfolio by selecting your best photos or work and regularly adding new ones in order to show your professional skills and development.
  • Manage a team: Ensure clear and effective channels of communication across all departments within the organisation and support functions, both internally and externally ensuring that the team is aware of the standards and objectives of the department/business unit. Implement the disciplinary and grievance procedures as required ensuring that a fair and consistent approach to managing performance is consistently achieved. Assist in the recruitment process and manage, train and motivate employees to achieve/exceed their potential using effective performance management techniques. Encourage and develop a team ethic amongst all employees.
  • Monitor trends in interior design: Monitor trends in interior design by any means including attending professional design fairs, dedicated magazines, classical and contemporary artistic creation in cinema, advertisement, theatre, circus, and visual arts.
  • Perform project management: Manage and plan various resources, such as human resources, budget, deadline, results, and quality necessary for a specific project, and monitor the project’s progress in order to achieve a specific goal within a set time and budget.
  • Collaborate with designers: Communicate and collaborate with fellow designers in order to coordinate new products and designs.
  • Receive key information about projects: Develop initial ideas and discuss requirements in detail with clients (the brief) and set project schedules.
  • Gather reference materials for artwork: Gather samples of the materials you expect to use in the creation process, especially if the desired piece of art necessitates the intervention of qualified workers or specific production processes.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of interior designer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Understand artistic concepts: Interpret an artist’s explanation or demonstration of their artistic concepts, inceptions and processes and strive to share their vision.
  • Collaborate with a technical staff in artistic productions: Coordinate the artistic activities with others who are specialised in the technical side of the project. Inform the technical staff of the plans and methods suggested and obtain feedback on feasibility, cost, procedures and other relevant information. Be able to understand the vocabulary and practises concerning technical issues.
  • Design materials for multimedia campaigns: Draft and develop materials to be produced for a multimedia campaign, keeping in mind budgeting, scheduling and production.
  • Develop design concept: Research information to develop new ideas and concepts for the design of a specific production. Read scripts and consult directors and other production staff members, in order to develop design concepts and plan productions.

ISCO group and title

3432 – Interior designers and decorators

  1. Interior designer – ESCO
  2. Interior Designer : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Interior and spatial designer job description |
  4. Interior Designer Job Description: Salary, Skills, & More –
  5. Featured image: Photo by Vecislavas Popa from Pexels
Last updated on March 31, 2023

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