Inspired, effective interior design is truly a blend of technical expertise and creative insight. Architectural designers don't just create "on the fly" or by instinct. While talent and passion are important factors, designers must learn and apply a detailed set of principles that govern each and every project they take on. These principles provide a logical, step-by-step framework for approaching design challenges—guiding designers toward spaces that meet clients' expectations and a recognized standard of design excellence.
Considering pursuing training in architectural design with the goal of becoming an interior/exterior designer? This post offers a taste of the design principles you'll learn in class, and how these "golden rules" are applied in the world of professional interior design.
1. Function before Fashion: What will the space be used for?
Bedrooms, entryways, living rooms, kitchens: they all have distinct practical functions. When architectural design students sketch out a preliminary design idea, they must consider which activities will take place in the space—and ensure their concept helps, and not hinders, those activities.
Designing with function in mind means thinking about:
- sources of natural and artificial light
- storage options
- type of flooring and other surfaces
- placement and size of furniture (traffic flow)
2. Every Space has a Story: What's your design theme?
Whether you're designing a single room, garden, entire house, or an office space, developing a storyline will help unify and guide your ideas. Contemporary, traditional, whimsical, rustic—the story you "tell" through your design will dictate key elements, such as colour scheme, shapes, and textures, ideally creating a unified, harmonious feeling throughout.
3. Accentuate the Positive: Emphasizing focal points
"Emphasis" is one of the most well-known interior design principles. Clients often want to accentuate particular elements in a space, which the designer will seek to emphasize by making those elements focal points. In a commercial space, the client may wish to highlight a product display, customer service counter, or company sign. A homeowner may want to emphasize beautiful high ceilings, a fireplace, or large set of windows. Interior designers use colour, texture, and lines to ensure the viewer's eyes land on a room's focal points first.
4. Size Matters: Considering scale & proportion
The light fixture you selected for above the dining table seemed perfect in the store—but looks enormous and overbearing once it's installed over the light-weight table. The delicate bar stools you chose appear too small in contrast to the substantial weight and texture of the kitchen island. The accent chairs in the living room are dwarfed by the oversized sofa.
In interior design, scale and proportion refers to the interaction of objects within a three dimensional space. Designers must predict how design elements will appear once they are placed together, ensuring they cohabitate harmoniously within the overall design concept.
In the above example, the light fixture worked well in isolation—but when placed in the room, it appeared completely out of proportion with the accompanying textures, objects, colours, etc.
Students in architectural design courses learn to address scale and proportion issues by developing 3D computer renderings of their designs. Sophisticated CAD software helps students measure, visualize, and map out detailed interior (and exterior) spaces, so they can achieve harmony between design elements.
Think you've got a natural eye for functional, beautiful, harmonious design? Interested in learning more about architectural design programs in Scarborough?
Take a look at Herzing College's Architectural Design Training, delivered at the Scarborough campus. The program takes just 10 months to complete and prepares graduates for entry level positions at engineering, architecture, and design firms.
Visit the program page for a complete list of courses, career options, entry requirements—or to chat live with a knowledgeable advisor. We're here to help!