Interior Design or Decoration, are they same ?

by Susweta Dutta & Abhishek Dutta, Principal Architects, ArcOn Design


Very often, interior design is confused with decoration - a misconception that comes with a lot of prejudices and misunderstandings. The decoration with choice of coverings, upholstery, non-functional decor elements, colors, and finishes are important aspects of interior design. But true interior design is much beyond.

In India, understandably, the priority and affordability for a designed space and its associated benefits like a healthy environment for body and mind, ease of functioning at the optimum level, ensuring comfort conditions for longevity and mental freedom, comes much later after fulfilling the basic needs of Roti, Kapda aur Makan (Bread, Cloth, and Shelter) which took us generations struggle under colonial rules over centuries. Thus the profession of architecture and Interior design took much longer to become relevant to a common man.

And in the process, in the absence of a regulatory authority like the western countries, anyone with grossly inadequate know-how of building started calling themselves Architects (which was finally regulated after The Architect Act 1972) or Interior Designers (Institute of Indian Interior Designers, IIID, are now in a process of regulating the profession, awaiting Govt. nod).

In some cities general interior contractors or even carpenters and painters, false ceiling vendors call themselves designers. As expected down goes the market standard, design quality expectation and role definition of a qualified Interior designer.


So what exactly is the role of a Qualified Interior Designer ?

First, it is essential to have an understanding of the macro-environment where the interior sits, the architecture, the interrelation of the spaces, relation with the exterior environment or landscape if any. A good Interior Designer must understand user behaviors and desires to create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. The organization of movement is a starting point, which can be achieved through basic layout manipulation. This division of space can be accomplished through walls, but also through furniture and even objects.

At the same time, interior design must pay attention to comfort conditions (whether thermal, lighting, or acoustic), as well as ergonomics, which dictates the best dimensions for furniture and objects.

Going deeper to the nest level, the specification of finishes, coatings, and materials constitutes the most visible and superficial part of interior design but this is where one interacts with the interior most, thus, it is no less important. This final touch composes the face of the project, transmitting the designer's vision addresses the desires and functional and aesthetic needs of the users.


For an experienced Interior Designer, the role is beyond the realm of simple planning of spaces and their elements, rather it is overall understanding the human being in its physiological, anatomical, and psychological dimensions that can help us achieve a high level of comfort, all while respecting diversity and differences. For different users, you have different movement habits, different use options for space different body types and ergonomic dimensions, and different comfort condition factors as not everyone feels comfortable in the same amount of light or favors the same temperatures. It is essential to consider a holistic and multidisciplinary approach when designing spaces focused on well-being, and the in-depth observation and analysis of each ‘body and mind’ is key to create an effective, usable, healthy, and inspiring environment with optimizing the other cost, time and resource factors of any project.



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The Authors, Ar. Susweta Dutta & Ar. Abhishek Dutta are Interior Design experts with more than 15 years of working experience. Both are the Co-founders of the renowned Design Firm ArcOn Design.

AD is presently the Hon. Secretary of the Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID) Kolkata and both are visiting Faculty/Critics of Various Institutes including National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, IDEA College, Nashik, Bharti Vidyapith College of Architecture Mumbai, Amity University, Techno-India University, Om Dayal College of Architecture, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

Please feel free to suggest or comment. Enjoy.

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