The Who’s Who in the Design Industry

In our 15 combined years of Design Industry experience, we have come across this confusion many, many a time. Who is the Interior Designer? Aren’t they called Interior Decorators? What about the Interior Architect? Where do they fit?  And what is an Interior Stylist? Are these all different roles? Do they all receive different diplomas and degrees? How do I know what I need? How do I know whom to employ?

The answer is YES, these four positions are all DIFFERENT roles in the Design Industry and whilst there can be a crossover depending on an individual’s education and credentials, most individuals in the industry pick their niche and stick to it.

Let’s start at the very beginning: Hi, we are Birdblack Design, and we are an Interior Design company. In our employ, we have Interior Designers, Interior Decorators and Interior Stylists on-board. In terms of Interior Architects,the reality is that most tertiary institutions have now simply changed the name of their Bachelor Degrees from Interior Design to Interior Architecture. They are the same course content, skillsets and industry knowledge.

Of course, the most difficult distinction is between Interior Designers and Interior Decorators – the majority of prospective clients use these terms and names interchangeably, and understandably, there is some crossover as mentioned above. However, there are fundamental differences.

INTERIOR DESIGNERS hold a tertiary qualification – usually either a Bachelor’s Degree or an Advanced Diploma in Interior Design. Here at Birdblack Design, Owner and Founder, Sarah Nolen, and Senior Designer, Rachel Pace both graduated with Bachelor Degrees in Interior Design. As detailed above, if their qualifications were in the last year or two, they would have graduated as Interior Architects.

Interior Designers are concerned with every aspect of the space: functionality, practicality, aesthetics and flow between rooms. They focus on safety, efficiency and comfortability whilst maintaining purpose and beauty. In addition, Interior Designers should have excellent knowledge of construction practices, documentation requirements and legalities. Birdblack Design are confident in these areas, allowing us to work with other designers and tradespeople from a management perspective, ensuring the project is properly implemented. Whether a remodel, a renovation or a brand new build; Interior Designers design your spaces from the ground up.

Here at Birdblack Design, we pride ourselves on expert knowledge in the following areas: design theory and history, building systems and technologies including sustainability in both designs and practices, project management including Australian Codes and Standards and then finishing off your project with exquisite lighting, materials, finishes and colours.

Multiple aspects of the design process can be seen in our ‘Ocean Breeze Residence’ Kitchen project. Structural changes, highlight windows, electrical work, functional layouts, practicality AND STUNNING to boot! We love designing the things you can see… and the things you can’t!

INTERIOR DECORATORS graduate with a Diploma level qualification in Interior Decorating,not Interior Design. An Interior Decorator is generally employed to create an interior in regards to aesthetics: colour choices, patterns, textures and the like. They will combine furnishings, floor coverings, and fabrics in order to create a harmonious effect within the structure of the home. Interior Decorators generally do not interfere with the structure of the home. For example, they will not move walls; they are exclusively concerned with decorating what’s already been built. They are passionate about colour palettes, furniture layouts, design items and art pieces. Their skill is in transforming a space without renovating.

Ryan Xuereb is our qualified resident Interior Decorator, whilst Sarah and Rachel also naturally took on subjects for decorating in their Design studies. Ryan has been headhunted for almost 15 years for his expertise in bringing pieces and colours together. You give him the vision; he will bring it to life! Rachel is passionate about textures and layering. Both Ryan and Rachel enjoy decorating in their spare time as well as professionally. Decorating is in their blood!

Here at ‘Girvan Residence’, you can see the Interior Decorator has been in after the Interior Designer: the hand-blown light fittings, reclining sofa and cushions match the Design perfectly.

INTERIOR ARCHITECTS fall in either one of two categories: they can either be qualified Bachelor Degree level Architects who prefer to work specifically on interior projects as their career, or they can be graduates of the newly named Bachelor of Interior Architecture previously known as Bachelor of Interior Design. Ultimately, Interior Designers and Interior Architects are the same thing: same degree, same knowledge, same skillset. However, what makes this super confusing is that the 2003 NSW Architect legislation gave ownership of the term ‘Architect’ to the AIA (Australian Institute of Architects) and therefore though a student can graduate from an Interior Architecture degree, unless they are registered to the AIA, they cannot call themselves architects. Holy moly! What a shemozzle! Suffice to say that Interior Architects is a contemporary name for Bachelor trained Designers who focus on Interior Design.

INTERIOR STYLISTS are often employed to style and arrange interiors. A stylist may be utilised ahead of a magazine photo shoot, to prepare a display home or for “home staging” when ready to sell a property. Dependant on the situation, this could be a temporary style (selling the home) or a permanent transition (home owners pay a stylist to decorate their home). Interior Stylists do not necessarily have any formal qualifications, but may be known professionally as talented and artistic decorators.

Our delightful friend, Jessi Eve Stylist, assisted on this photo shoot, styling our ‘Pallier Residence’ perfectly.

We hope that this differentiation has been helpful and educational. One last question remains: which person, role, or company is right for you?

Well, folks, this comes down to preference. Many designers and decorators have niche styles. Do their portfolios, websites and social media excite you? If so, perhaps they are the right fit for you. Next off is to consider your needs:

· Will there be structural or functional changes? If so,decorators may not be able to assist until the end of the process.

· Could there be hidden problem discovered during a renovation? Leaks in the bathroom? Problems in the kitchen? If yes, again a decorator may not be able to guide you through the structural refix.

· Are you open to more space by identifying wasted space or dead corners? This is a designer’s dream!

· Do you prefer someone to manage the project for you?Or do you want to deal with every tradesperson personally?

Birdblack Design strives to cover it all. We like to be the one stop shop for high end design projects. Feel free to take a look at some of our favourite projects below, displaying our diversity and creativity.

Talk soon,
BD x

Striking patterns and bold colours making huge statements at ‘Blanchard Residence’. We LOVE the black, white and mustard combination!

The perfect spot to read a book, drink a glass of wine and enjoy good conversation. ‘Cato Residence’ ticks all our boxes.

Moving into the Kitchen at ‘Cato Residence’, the terracotta and leather combo is brilliant. P.S. There is a secret door to a hidden room behind one of the black cabinetry doors on the left. Which one?!

This grand staircase at ‘Redgum Ridge’ is just one of the spectacular features in this home. Our clients host up to 20 guests weekly, so everything is grand in this home! Check out the Formal Dining and Bar to the right.

Florals and greens? ABSOLUTELY DIVINE. Jungle print tiles? Yes, please! ‘Taylor Residence’