Every year, new students enter the interior architecture and design major at Queens and every year, professors spend time during the first few weeks of class educating students on what the interior design business really entails.
"When students tell me they want to become interior design majors, I ask what that means to them," said Beverly Allen, founder of Queen's interior design program and owner of Beverly Allen Interiors.
Beverly says students typically describe the creative side: working with beautiful colors and bold-patterned fabrics. There's almost always talk of home makeover shows on HGTV and slick shelter periodical spreads. But interior design is much more than décor.
"The critical thinking aspects of health, safety and welfare unifying the disciplines of art and science are the things that make the job of being a designer so necessary to planning interior spaces and so personally satisfying."
- Beverly Allen, founder of Queens' interior design program
Envision a completely empty room that needs to be turned into an office. This is the blank slate from which an interior designer begins. There will be many things to consider along the way to address the overall health and wellbeing someone feels in the space. From flooring to chairs, an interior designer must ask questions such as:
- What type of carpet or flooring will allow office chairs to roll smoothly?
- What sort of chairs are going to provide the most comfort and support for the back, while also being made of a breathable fabric?
- Where are the emergency exits located, and how will this affect the layout of the room?
Mandie Saunders, a graduate of Queens' interior design program, exemplifies the work of an interior designer. As a concierge designer for Novant Health, Mandie manages all new and existing furniture for the company's corporate, acute care and medical group facilities in Charlotte.
To perform her job, Mandie must have a robust knowledge of the healthcare industry. She must be educated in the areas of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations; bariatric accommodations and weight limits; infection control; furniture standards for different areas of the facilities; fabric durability and its proper application; healthcare furniture construction; and the latest products.
So back to the original myth - is interior design all about décor?
Décor is the icing on the cake. Every designer wants the end result to be pleasing to the eye, but much of the interior design profession comes down to enhancing functionality.
"Interior design is about understanding your client's needs, being knowledgeable of the proper applications, educating your client and creating a functional, effective, aesthetically pleasing, solution for them," said Mandie.