My very first internship was during a summer off from my undergraduate program in interior design; I worked for a successful residential interior decorator with a thriving home office. My tasks were to organize and update piles and piles of fabric samples and assist her in getting materials palettes together. During my internship I learned about the manufacturers of fabrics like Scalamandre, Cowtan & Tout, Clarence House, Robert Allen and many others. I learned the meanings of the terms worsted wool, damask, tweed, chenille, etc.
Upon graduation, I worked in an interior design studio of a large architectural office. I had the opportunity to work with talented interior designers and architects that helped to hone my skills in FF&E selection, space planning, code research – well, all phases of design. My previous residential decorative knowledge served me well in quickly being able to pull a palette together.
Years later, during the summer prior to my graduate program in architecture, I worked for an architect as an intern architect. I remember going to the print shop to pick up blueprints (yes, blueprints!), going to project sites to assist in verifying work completed and sitting in meetings with the contractors. In this office, I was better able to assist the architects when clients would inquire about color/material and space planning to make a more inviting environment. The architectural experience allowed me to see the “whole picture” of design.
With each experience I’ve had, I’ve naturally grown to appreciate and respect the talent, expertise and tenure it took each of these professionals to get to a point in their careers to mentor me. With this said, I have never understood the quiet eye rolls or dismissive comments and smiles made about “picking out colors” or “playing with fabric” some (not all) interior designers and architects have concerning interior decorators. By the same token, I have heard some (not all) interior decorators and interior designers suggest that architects are stiff, boring and uncreative with interior work. So where do the insults, slights and comments come from? Is it insecurity? Perhaps an attempt to make one feel better about themselves? I consider myself happily residing in the middle of all three worlds – my education and professional work has inevitably made me a well rounded designer.
I introduce these experiences (and this question) because over the past 15 years I have worked for interior decorators, interior designers and architects. All of which were competent, talented and shared one critical thing in common – they all wanted to do and did good work. I am happy to report that the majority of interior decorators, interior designers and architects I know have an engaged interest in and a respect for the related disciplines they are not directly involved in. This mutual respect is what aids in professional growth. There are elements specific to each type of work that takes an incredible amount of time, patience, skill and talent to master. This post isn’t meant to state or define the differences between each discipline, but rather to focus on a simultaneously similar goal – that of pursuing and producing good work.