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Interior Architects & Interior Designers: What Differences?

Updated: May 4, 2021

You have a new office, home, or any other space in Vietnam, and you want to work on the appeal of its interior? You have heard about home decorators, interior designers and interior architects, but you don’t know who to talk to for your project? Which services do you really need?

In this article, LifeStyle Connected will help you differentiate these several professions to make sure you will talk to the right person. Let’s dive in!

Interior Decorators and Interior Designers : What are they ?

In a nutshell, interior design or interior decoration focus more on art than functionality.

These disciplines incorporate aesthetic elements such as: furniture, flooring, walls, taps, faucets, plants, window coverings and artwork. Their work also encompasses color schemes, textiles, lighting, design materials and sustainability.

Both professions can work in a wide variety of spaces, ranging from residential and corporate to public and industrial. But in any case, their role is about being able to interpret people’s needs and produce designs that work well and look good.

They are here to capture the personality & style of the owners and to transform an unwelcoming space into something « human-compatible ». Or when it comes to corporate interior design, decorators and designers work with clients to create efficient and ergonomically friendly workspaces.

Now, being an interior designer actually implies a bit more than just decorating a place. Contrary to Interior Decorators, the services of a professional interior designer include some technical aspects. Interior designers work with CAD software like 3D Home Design, RoomSketcher, or AutoDesk.

The mission of an interior designer revolves around the following:

· Design concept

. Space planning and 2D

· Production of floor plans, elevations, 3D illustrations, working drawings to create a set of blueprints

· Lighting design

· Specialized designs: interior construction works, kitchen designs, storage solutions, bathrooms, and bedroom designs

. Wall, floor, door, windows, ceiling material finishes

. Technical drawings details and production of CAD to contractor

· Coordinating colour schemes

· Drawing for custom furniture

. Sourcing and procurement

However the Interior Designer is involved in all process of construction ( or renovation) and will work closely with Interior Architect and contractors to follow the project development

If you need help with any of the above, our Interior Designers in Saigon would be happy to discuss with you!

Interior Architects: what are they ?

Interior architecture also does have an “art” component. However, the core of this profession remains the science of architecture. As such, an interior architect focuses on the technical aspects of planning and building an interior space, with obviously the key role of creating the interior plans (blueprints).

Their goal is to make the rooms and interior spaces of a building safe and functional, while designing aesthetically-appealing lighting, color and texture.

Interior architects deal with structural constructions or renovations (Interior architects can transform existing structures to accommodate a totally different purpose. For instance, they will turn old offices into a block of modern apartments.) As such, they supervise and work with builders, contractors, and technicians to facilitate the rebuilding or renovation of an existing structure and make sure they are using the appropriate materials and methods.

They have to take building structure and building codes into account to create a safe and habitable living space. This implies that they understand the building codes and government regulations that apply to the interior space.

This means that they handle the setup of: plumbing, electrical system, heating, climatization, ventilation and, as seen above, lighting or even acoustics. For these matters, sustainability became an increasingly important part in the Interior Architect’s mission, who can, from conception, include “Green” developments in their creation.

Indeed, architects assess the environment and conditions such as heat and natural light in order to design their plans. Usually, they do so by sketching their preliminary ideas manually before using computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting and building information modeling (BIM) applications to create scaled plans for the interior space.

The mission of an interior architect revolves around the following:

· Understanding local building codes

· Planning for safety (ex: fire hazards)

· Designing for efficiency & functionality (ex: doorways, storage spaces)

· Promoting comfort (ex: sound transmission)

· Guaranteeing accessibility

So if you have some “heavy lifting” to do at some point or work on the different “systems” (water, electrical…) of a location, you can be sure you will need an interior architect!

Which one do you need? Interior Architect or Interior Designer?

Your choice depends vastly on the stage of development of your project.

Interior architecture focuses on what will become, while interior design works around what already exists.

Indeed, if you don’t have a space yet, or if you are at an early stage of renovating, you will probably need an Interior Architect first. By analyzing the environment and knowing about the technicalities and regulations, the interior architect will create plans for a space that actually works, that is secure, and that is “human-compatible”.

If construction is over, you will have to figure out how to furnish said space. This is when the help of an Interior Designer is needed. After exchanging with you about tastes and feelings, he will propose plans to organize a space. The use of 3D plans is key to get things right before actually making purchases or moving stuff around.


A deeper technical ability is the major difference between the two professions.

The first one will build an intelligent space, and the second one will build a pretty space.

In a certain way, we can say that an Interior Architect designs what is best for anyone, while an Interior Architect designs what looks best for you!

And looks do matter! Don’t forget that a space’s aesthetic has a direct impact on our mental and physical health, so if you want to improve your well-being or productivity, do consider the services of a professional interior designer!

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