Photos of The Nest in Neihaischen by steve troes fotodesign
Whenever we introduce ourselves as architects to people, one of the most frequently asked questions is “Do you design the inside or the outside of the building?” For an architect, this is a funny question because we spend our time designing the entire building, but it is a fair question since there are professionals called interior architects (interior designers in the U.S.) not to mention interior decorators.
So, if architects design the entire building inside and out, then why is there such a thing as an interior architect, and how are they different from architects or interior decorators?
The advent of specialization and modern terms
Before and during the early decades of industrialization, the professions surrounding construction were much more general. In fact, the name architect is derived from the Greek word arkhi which means “chief” and tektn which means “builder”. For centuries, those that made plans for buildings were simple artisans. It wasn’t until 1834 that the Royal Institute of British Architects was established to regulate and protect the profession. Similar architectural institutes were founded shortly thereafter in Ireland, the Netherlands, the USA and eventually around the world.1 In Luxembourg, the governing body is the Ordre des Architectes et des Ingenieurs-Conseils, better known as the OAI.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the distinction between architects, interior architects and designers were often blurred. There were designers that applied their philosophy throughout all forms of work whether it be a chair, a kitchen or a building. Charlotte Perriand was one of them. She worked 10 years for the famous architect, Le Corbusier, who often took credit for her work. Over her long career, Charlotte designed iconic furniture as well as full interiors and even large buildings such as the Les Arcs ski resort. When asked about her professional category by journalists, Perriand replied, “I don’t define myself. That would be a limitation.”2
Another was Margaret Mackintosh who along with her sister, Frances, and husband Charles Rennie Mackintosh are credited with creating the Glasgow style of design and architecture. They studied at the renowned Glascow School of Art and created furniture, partitions, wall décor and windows that were fully integrated into the buildings they designed.3
After WWII and the advent of large industrial buildings, modern office towers and the need to repurpose historical buildings, the professions became more specialized, and today, the roles are more distinctly defined.
Architects are licensed professionals that have completed a Master level of education and depending on the country, at least two years of professional internship and a certain number of required hours of continuing education.
We are taught to design and consider every aspect of the building from the site plan down to very small details within the building. Designing the interior spaces is an integral part of how the building is formed and what it looks like in the end.
We also act as the client’s agent throughout the entire building process. The OAI explains, “The architect is not only the creator, coordinator and expert, but also the advisor who puts at the client’s disposal his or her experience and professionalism as a person of the art…This synthesis is documented by the architect’s plans drawn up on the basis of a program defined according to the client’s needs and desires, within the framework of a given budget, in the context of a delimited plot or site and in compliance with the urban planning, architectural and technical regulations in force.”4
However, since architects have so much to consider and work on, we are not as specialized as interior architects and other designers who focus in more detail on what they do. Therefore, you will often see architects teaming up with them.
Interior architects are licensed professionals that have completed a Bachelor or Master level of education which includes required hours of working in a professional internship. They are experts at planning the interior spaces needed by their clients and have vast knowledge of lighting, interior finishes, furniture and how to coordinate and harmonize color combinations. They also design custom cabinetry and furniture.
In a large office building, they will act as consultants for lighting and material selections for the common areas, and they will then work with the individual companies to plan out their internal offices, desks, partitions, etc. They will also work with the companies to make sure the design of their offices reflects their brand identity.
In residential architecture, interior architects can work with clients who wish for detailed interior design work or are renovating without making any structural changes. If the client wishes to make large changes to the roof or add an extension to the house, for example, it would be necessary to involve an architect.
Interior decorators are different from interior architects as well. In the United States, a person can become certified as a decorator without a university degree by taking a 6-week course. In Germany, this profession is certified through a 3-year apprenticeship program. Decorators do not design furniture or cabinetry themselves, but focus rather on selecting and harmonizing furniture, artwork selection, paint colors, wallpaper, drapes, etc.
At Saharchitects, we are architects with extensive experience in residential architecture. The scope of our work ranges from the layouts of small residential developments in Luxembourg to custom furniture and the selection of interior finishes in the private homes we design.
Careful attention to our client’s vision is our utmost priority and after shaping this vision with them and carrying it through the design of the house, we are happy to then involve our extensive network of design specialists for more detailed interior studies. Allowing us to orchestrate the work with them will assure our client’s vision is carried through every detail, and their home will be a place that will positively affect their life.
9 rue Jean Majerus
L-7555 Mersch, Luxembourg
T +352 83 76 86
M +352 691 550 481
Monday — Friday
8:00 – 17:00
We engage meaningfully with our clients so that together we positively transform the way they live.