ID Connections

An interview with Kelly VanderHooft

Published by Sarah Bradbury, February 25, 2016.

IDC caught up with Registered interior designer Kelly VanderHooft of Urban Studio Interior Design in Alberta on the issue of interior designer vs interior decorator.

How do you feel when you get called an interior decorator instead of an interior designer?

I think we all experience the frustration that comes with the public confusion between “interior designer” and “interior decorator”. I dream that one day the general public will understand the difference! There are a few reasons why I cringe when the two names are used interchangeably, as they fill two very different roles. Both occupations are important but they do not do the same thing, so we need to help educate the public when to use an interior decorator and when to use a professional interior designer.

What is the fundamental difference between the two professions?

An interior designer will look at many layers of what makes a space a place. This involves everything from assessing the site, asking questions, observing and designing a work flow that is efficient and appropriate for the project. We take this information and design the space, including interior walls, public facilities, office layouts, retail, restaurant seating, healthcare and all kind of spaces that serve the public. We study building codes to ensure public safety and are educated and up-to-date on materials and finishes. Interior designers take pride in designing the many layers that work together to create great spaces. The well-being of the people that will be occupying the space is an integral part of what we do. As interior designers we have a high standard of education, experience and professional exams that we are required to complete.

What would you want the public to know about interior design?

We take our role as professional interior designers seriously because we know that it isn’t just about hanging artwork and choosing paint colours to make a space “look pretty”. These decisions on décor and finishing touches are part of what we do, but it is just the icing on the cake. The role of an interior decorator is to look purely at the decorative aspects of a space. Interior designers decorate, but interior decorators are not trained to design for the functional and life safety decision-making that goes into creating successful public and commercial spaces.

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