WHAT IS INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE AND WHAT TYPE OF PROJECTS NEED IT?
‘Interior design’ is a phrase we’ve all heard many times before. It’s something we’ve become familiar with when browsing through glossy magazines, scrolling through social media and from regular mentions on some of our favourite television shows.
But, ‘interior architecture’? Not so much.
Interior architecture, as a subject, is often confused with architecture, interior design and interior decoration.
In simple terms, interior architecture is a combination of interior design and architecture.
Whilst an architect looks to design the framework of a building, and also advise in its construction, an interior architect looks to update an interior by reconstructing or reshaping a space.
What exactly does an interior architect do?
A great analogy to describe the role of an interior architect is that they "blend art and science together", reimagining an interior space.
An interior architect works with an existing structure and makes changes through considered design alterations.
These changes can be anything from minor updates, such as the repositioning of doors or walls, to gutting the interior to a bare-bones space with the intention of a full redesign.
Instead of focusing simply on the main structure or soft furnishings like sofas, an interior architect considers how the interior will be functional for the homeowner or for a business.
As part of the role of an interior architect, you will also be expected to understand a building's structure and other regulations, including having knowledge of plumbing and electrical systems.
So, what is the difference between interior architecture and interior design?
The role of an interior designer is very complex. It is often referred to as the only profession in design which interacts with all areas of the industry, including furniture, textile and product designers, and of course, architects.
Many interior, degree level, design courses now expect students to understand the more technical elements of the design world.
This, paired with major advances in technology and the option for further education on the subject, means qualified interior designers don’t just have knowledge of enhancing an interior space.
They also have a level of understanding surrounding the construction of a building, including structural and spatial design, similar to that of an architect.
With this in mind, the two roles can nowadays very often overlap. In some cases, interior designers may have the knowledge to advise in certain areas of interior architecture. Whereas Interior Architects will always have both technical and design capabilities.
When would a project need Interior Architecture?
An interior architect's main role is to ensure that improvements to an existing building interior meets the needs of those using it.
This means that interior architects are often called on in relation to extensions, loft and basement conversions, helping to maximise the potential of a home or commercial space that is already in use.
Interior architects will create 3d walkthroughs of a project to allow clients to visualise how the new space will look once it’s complete.
As discussed, due to the overlap in the professions, interior designers are well versed in utilising spaces, but you’d need to call on an interior architect if you envisage your work will need more structural attention.
How do I become an interior architect?
Just like architecture and interior design, you will require a degree to become a fully qualified interior architect.
There are plenty of universities across the UK that offer relevant interior architecture courses, but they are typically a specialism course as part of its architecture school.
During your course, in most cases you will be expected to be complete relevant work placements to enhance your industry knowledge.
It is important to note that as part of the 1997 Architects Act, it is an offence to be named as an Interior Architect if you don't have the necessary degree, training and experience.
It is essential that to operate as an Interior Architect that you are registered to the Architects Registration Board, the regulator of architects here in the UK.
Our top ten UK designers who specialise in Interior Architecture
In the UK, there are plenty of architect, interior design and interior architect firms that can help you to achieve a space that works for you or your business.
Whether that’s your own home, an office space or commercial outlet, we’ve shared our top ten interior architect firms helping businesses and homes to reach their design potential.
Interior Architecture UK is a leading interior design and architecture consultancy in London, led by director, Ann Loxley.
The design team work closely with clients from across the UK and Europe, offering their expertise for both new build and refurbishment projects.
It boasts clients across the residential, corporate, commercial, hotel and leisure sectors, offering a unique approach to spatial design.
The team at Interior Architecture UK is passionate about interiors. From maximising the potential of existing spaces to delivering bespoke interior design options for its clients, Interior Architecture is on hand to provide effective interiors that work for its purpose.
Not all good interior architecture consultancies have to hail from the Big Smoke.
Birmingham based Copper & Ash believes in its motto: ‘good design should be accessible to all.’
Led by creative director, Kayleigh Ricardo, the company believes in approaching all its residential and commercial projects with honesty, passion and commitment.
With over 20 years experience in the field, the team at Copper & Ash takes the time to get to know their clients. From getting them involved in every step of the creation process, to providing a final design that really delivers; Copper & Ash bridges the gap between great design and functionality.
John Evans Interior Architecture and Design (JEIAD) focuses on providing effective interior architecture to the residential, leisure and commercial sectors, both at home and abroad.
Founded in 1980 by designer John Evans, the UK based firm follows his pragmatic approach to interior design.
Using his expertise in spatial planning and interior space, his structured and detailed designs make the most of each and every space with exquisite furniture, fixtures and fittings, never forgetting one minor detail.
JEIAD has offices in Birmingham and London, with clients located across the globe.
Honky is an award winning architectural and interior design firm based in London.
The team at Honky provide a full design service, working with some of the UK’s leading house builders and developers.
From private residence to show homes, Honky works on projects with a wide range of budgets to create bespoke results that push the boundaries and deliver results.
Founded in 2001 by interior designer, Chris Dezille, his knowledge spans over 25 years in the industry. Working on projects across the UK and internationally, Chris’ stamp of approval is only met by achieving the ‘ultimate perfection’, the key elements of all his designs.
Well renowned for its intricate wall features, trend-led soft furnishings and effective use of lighting, Honky doesn’t compromise on quality or functionality. This ensures that the best possible design is created for each client - and the multiple industry awards speak for themselves.
Designed to work for everyday, Forme UK creates designs that benefit daily life, whether for work, play or for relaxation.
Forme UK is made up of a highly skilled and passionate design team, working with some of the leading names in the hotel, retail, restaurant and residential sectors.
The team has an outstanding track record of refurbishing, redeveloping and fitting out large and small scale projects across the private and public workplace sectors.
From speaking 10 different languages to embracing alternative cultures and perspectives across its design team of 15, Forme UK’s desire to improve the use of space in buildings, old and new, is what sets it apart from others in the industry.
The studio believes its numerous interior design award wins comes from its dynamic approach to design. Forme UK’s unique thought patterns allow them to problem solve in different spaces, offering functional improvements to buildings across the world.
Granit has 30 years experience in the design of beautiful buildings.
With an award winning team of London based architects, interior architects and interior designers, Granit offers a holistic approach to interior design.
Granit’s philosophy highlights the value behind great design, and how this can positively impact lives and communities in its local environment.
Working with commercial property investors and private clients across the UK and abroad, the team offers high end architecture and luxury design for its end consumer.
Lungfish Architects, based in Nottingham, focus on bringing communities together with ‘purposeful, sustainable places.’
Led by managing director, Simon Reid, Lungfish is a full service agency made up of experienced architects, technicians and designers.
These professionals work across a range of projects, from homes, schools and other public spaces, making their projects rewarding for themselves and the communities they help in the process.
Focused on the commercial interiors sector, Liqui® is an award winning interior design consultancy based in London and Brighton.
Liqui®’s interior designers and interior architects work with clients across the world, sharing their expertise and creative know-how to achieve maximum return on all their projects.
With a total, full service approach to interiors, the firm takes a project from initial concept through to installation in a way that works for the client.
With a pool of experienced professionals at its fingertips, Liqui® creates bespoke interiors that make the most of any space.
Working across an array of sectors, Koubou Interiors offers both architectural and interior design skills for its clients.
From hospitality and healthcare, to an array of commercial projects, the team at Koubou aren’t strangers to award wins in design and interior architecture.
Run by lead designer and managing director, Gilly Craft, the team has won ‘Best Woman-run Interior Architecture Company for the UK’ in 2018 and most recently, the winner of the ‘Best Woman-Run Interior Architecture Company in 2019.
Koubou works on small interior projects, all the way to large commercial designs, consulting on spatial planning, site appraisals, renovation projects and much more.
From architecture to furniture and interior design, Ensoul designs concepts that show the ‘art of the possible’.
Ensoul provides an holistic approach to interior design and architecture, delivering high impact interiors through smart planning and design.
Design director and architectural design lead, Philip Rogerson and his team maximise the potential of commercial and residential properties in the UK through creative vision, expertise and the appropriate finish touches.
From a plethora of award wins and a wide depth and breadth of skills, Ensoul dares to add personality to all of its designs.
As we’ve seen, the roles and responsibilities across the interiors sector are constantly changing and evolving, not only as technology advances, but also as demands from clients and renovators continue to grow.
From seeing first hand, via our top 10 listings, how talented architects, interior architects and interior designers all work together to create exceptional spaces for their clients, it’s clear that unity across these sectors is needed to achieve industry success.