Rather than treating interior design as a finishing touch, architect Craig South suggests a collaborative approach can be much more effective.
Architects and interior designers have traditionally tended to work apart but, in my experience, it’s far better to have both on the same page and working together from an early stage. Having a shared design vision is the best guarantee of an inspiring outcome.
There may be a perception that the architect’s job stops at the front door, yet more often than not external form flows through to the interior and this, in turn, will influence how the interior comes together. Good communication between the architect and interior designer ensures both can be focussed on the same goal of creating spaces that people will enjoy living in. That means spaces that are functional and that will work well with a building’s form and aesthetics.
When an architect and interior designer are in sync over key decisions, such as what materials will be used, a high level of overall consistency can be achieved. Built-in features like window seats are a good example of how interior design and architecture can be linked in this way. Some might see them as a bit of a throwback, but window seats are great for storage and, if built in the right places, offer lovely little spots for enjoying views and sun. Similarly, built-in bookshelves and places for ornaments really help breathe life and personality into a home.
When planning a new home, I’d suggest getting an interior designer on board as early as possible to kick start these positive design synergies, even if all you have is a concept drawing. Decisions on smart use of space for storage – or how best to frame views or site a fireplace – can be made in unison and with the client’s needs front and centre. Involving the interior designer early also streamlines their own decision-making on furnishing and finishing.
In my day to day practice, I am privileged to work alongside an in-house interiors team and find that being able to bounce ideas between us is very helpful to the overall design process. We also collaborate with other interior designers at various stages of our projects and find that to be invaluable to the end result.
Take something as specific as a kitchen: it makes sense to bring the architect and interior designer together and let them know exactly how you want that space to perform. You can even show them where you envisage standing at your kitchen bench. A good mutual understanding of the space being created will get you off to a flying start.
What we constantly strive to do in our own practice, as architects and designers, is to create playful, easy to use spaces. Our goal is not simply to create houses as shelter, but homes with personality that include all those special bespoke touches that add up to an enjoyable way of life.
At its best, architecture and interior design are a kind of ‘pas de deux’, both working in tandem to produce a harmonised whole.