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How Do Architects and Interior Designers Work Together?

How Do Architects and Interior Designers Work Together?

Designing and constructing a building is complicated, requiring a large team of experts and specialties. From architects and interior designers to contractors and engineers, every member of a project team is essential. Architects and interior designers specifically have a unique working relationship that many clients may not be aware of. While both roles are important, their priorities and focus lie in very distinct areas, making collaboration critical.

Understanding the Roles of Architects and Interior Designers

Architects and interior designers are separate career paths and specialties, and they view projects differently based on their training. Architects concentrate on the structure of a building as a whole, as well as all the systems needed within the structure, such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. Architects are also responsible for construction documents, permits, and spatial planning — all areas that require extensive schooling, training, and testing for licensing.

Interior designers also undergo significant schooling and training; however, their specialty addresses the interior environment of structures. Interior designers are often also trained and credentialed to create and revise construction documents, though their focus tends to center around how people will move within the building. Unlike architects, interior designers are responsible for the detailed design elements as well, including lighting, acoustics, and materials, to ensure a functional and comfortable space.

Unlike architects, interior designers are responsible for the detailed design elements as well, including lighting, acoustics, and materials, to ensure a functional and comfortable space.

People frequently consider these two specialties entirely independent of one another, but their goals are quite similar: creating safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing buildings. Yet all too often, the work of architects and interior designers has been conducted sequentially in the design and construction process rather than in tandem. This segmented approach means architects and interior designers can’t collaborate, and the client misses out on the benefits each expertise brings to design.

When collaboration occurs during the design phase, an architect often drafts the initial floorplan and then works alongside the interior designer to modify the design, if necessary. It is possible to significantly improve the structural design by having a professional interior designer look at the floorplan from a daily use angle.

For example, architects and interior designers will approach something as fundamental as the placement of stairwells and elevators within a building slightly differently. Architects might place these core features in a location that makes the most sense structurally. However, interior designers consider how people will move within the space and may suggest adjustments to make access easier.

Beyond essential structural elements, architects and interior designers also closely collaborate to determine the interior architecture of a building. Whether architectural millwork, technology integration, or branded design, a team of architects and interior designers can incorporate the appropriate design trends into a plan to make sure everything can be built within the timeline and budget. Including each voice and perspective during design can help ensure the final layout meets the client’s vision and maintains efficiency.

Collaboration between architects and interior designers from the onset of a project can help secure a synthesis of the beauty and function of a building and the spaces within it.

Collaboration between architects and interior designers from the onset of a project can help secure a synthesis of the beauty and function of a building and the spaces within it. From projects in the healthcare industry to commercial, civic, multifamily, and more, our team at Hoefer Welker emphasizes collaboration and listening across all disciplines to deliver exceptional outcomes. We rely on our architects and interior designers to create the best version of each client’s vision.

Learn more about our Interiors Studio and the projects that have benefitted from our collaborative approach.


Amy Williams

Amy Williams

Vice President | Director of Interior Design

As director of interior design, Amy uses her entrepreneurial experience and deep understanding of interior products, costs, and constructability to lead our interiors department. She brings a calm presence and extensive knowledge of working with clients, consultants and architects. In support of our five market sectors, she works closely with our interiors team to grow and develop the studio.

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