Maja Kozel: interior designer vs interior decorator... what's the difference?



In the Netherlands there is a something called the SBA, the Dutch Architects’ Title act that protects the titles architect, urban designer, garden and landscape architect and interior architect. Therefore, only the person with this title can work under this profession.

But how do you explain this internationally? When you live and work abroad you have to stand your ground.

Interior architects have the reputation of being a stylist/decorator. When you explain that you graduated from the Art Academy as an interior architect and that this is a multidisciplinary profession that can vary from landscape and architectural design to interior and product design, it paints a clearer picture. We like to envision a space to be morphed into something completely different. We look at how we can make the experience of the customer seem as if they are walking into a distinctive space.

One great example is when I was working at the Netherlands Architectural Institute (currently called the New Institute) in Rotterdam on the main exhibition. This exhibition changed every year, and with a new exhibition, the spatial design was changing completely to fit the curated art exhibition. We would work together as a team with the curators, graphic designers, artist and the builders on the exhibition that would create a harmonious blend of the art and space.

It would tell the story without the interior being too dominant yet complementing the art piece. It was a fascinating process to be part of as the big hall of the museum would have a completely different layout and feeling each time the exhibition would change.

Depending on what type of interior you are working with, the decoration part of the space is certainly an aspect of the design that refines the interior. It is the finishing touch that adds life to the space. Eventually, it is all about the function of the design. Let it be a tower or a bus stop, the scope and location of the design can be different. The most important task is trying not to limit yourself and think in a wider perspective. 

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