In the past decade or so, the function of interior design has broadened and deepened to such an extent that the term itself has become a misnomer. The interior designer today is concerned not only with determining furniture, furnishings, colors, materials, and finishes, but also with organizing and predicting basic concepts of work organization and traffic flow for large corporate or institutional entities. His goals go far beyond mere appearance design; they are nothing less than the creation of a “total environment” through the dual functions of design and space planning.
As we see it, the work of the designer aims at accomplishing three prime objectives:
First: The Economic Goal, meaning that the space he plans must function as economically and efficiently as possible. This involves not only in-depth programming and space planning, but also the establishment of standards for interior building materials, finishes, and furnishings, which are based on practicality as well as esthetics.
Second: The Human Goal, or the relationship of people to space. By which we mean satisfying the needs of two groups of people: employees who work in the space and use its facilities, and the transients, those people who come inside the building to do business. The needs of these two may be quite different, but they must be satisfied equally and concurrently, keyed to an understanding of the client’s activities. The main ingredients we employ to achieve this goal are esthetic. They involve such elements as interior details, colors, materials, furniture, furnishings, and especially today, the use of art as an integral part of interior design.
Third: The Architectural Goal of cohesiveness or architectural unity. Here, we are speaking of the correlation and synthesis of the interior design with the architecture of the building itself.
Mutual respect important
We believe that the designer must respect the spirit of the architecture—particularly if it is good architecture. At the same time, he must coordinate his work closely with the architect, so that the final result is a total and homogenous design solution, in which even the smallest design detail reflects and is related to the overall architecture theme.
In addition, the design is of necessity concerned with interior architecture design. Lighting, elevations, walls, doors and door frames, acoustics, sun and glare control, materials, flooring, partitions, hardware, and air handling systems—all these fall within the purview of the designer.
Obviously, however, both architect and designer must be involved in their solution. The direction of this collaboration is not fixed; it can and should vary according to the job. Sometimes the designer works jointly with the architect. At other times, the architect takes the lead, and the designer assumes a subordinate role. A third possibility is for the designer to assume the direction, consulting with the architect, when the need arises.
Whichever path is taken, the final solution will be better if the designer is brought onto the scene at an early stage. The ideal situation is for him to work with the architect from the planning stage on. This insures close collaboration, means that any possible obstacles to the prime goal— architectural cohesiveness—are dealt with and, hopefully, eliminated early in the game. In sum, modern interior planning for large spaces demands that architect and interior designer work in harmony together. It is the architect who develops the basic structural design concept; the designer/specifier, who, utilizing this concept, brings it to completion.
In addition, the designer brings to the job an independent point of view, based on a richness of experience and a familiarity with all the details of interior planning, which should result in a more profound solution to the myriad of problems encountered in operation of huge office complexes.
When architect and designer begin with compatible philosophies and proceed with mutual respect, the result is indeed total: total design, total harmony, total unity.