Family and Consumer Sciences

What kind of work does an interior designer do?

Interior designers often work in both residential and business settings, although some choose to specialize in certain areas.

Below are some of the specializations among interior designers:

  • Residential Design -- Residential interior design focuses on the planning and/or specifying of interior materials and products used in homes. Designers are trained to interview clients to help them explore in depth their needs and tutor them as to possible future requirements that will improve their lifestyle.
  • Health Care Design -- 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. Design for health care facilities impacts the well being of not only patients and their families, but also of the care provider, therefore it directly impacts the quality of care.
  • Hospitality/Restaurant Design -- 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. For an interior designer in this specialty, it is important to understand the client's business, including operational procedures, image and use requirements as well as budget and financial constraints. Design solutions have to be responsive to goals, budgets and aesthetic objectives established by the owner.
  • Office Design -- Office design focuses on the public and private areas utilized by corporate and professional service firms. Office design, by its very nature, cannot be neatly categorized or defined, for just as there are an almost endless number of workplace types, so must their design reflect this variety. People's offices can be found in traditional office buildings, in their homes, at a hospital nurses' station, or even an airplane cockpit.
  • Retail/Store Planning -- Retail design and store planning concentrate on spaces like you would fine in department stores, outlets, showrooms, and shopping malls. Retail designers are not in the business of creating "pretty stores." While pretty environments are nice, pretty does not necessarily create sales-per-square-foot. Designers who successfully practice in this field must be strategic planners who understand how great retail designs are developed.
  • Entertainment Design -- Entertainment design brings together the use of interiors, lighting, sound, and other technologies for movies, television, music videos, dramatic and musical theater, clubs, concerts, and theme parks. Designing for entertainment differs from the design of more conventional settings and often involves using your creativity to tell a story or create a separate reality.
  • Facilities Management -- A facilities manager develops schedules for building upkeep and maintenance, addresses 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. The most important skills required for a facilities designer are good communications skills, working well within a team environment, the ability to make decisions quickly, paying attention to details, the ability to handle multiple projects, and the ability to prioritize and to complete projects by the deadline.
  • Accessible Design -- With the passage of the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA), there has been an increased awareness for accommodation and universal design. Design professionals continue their vigilance in maintaining design standards that uphold the intent and spirit of this important civil rights legislation.
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
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