• Sarah Watermeyer Design

What is the Difference Between Interior Design and Architecture?

Updated: Feb 24

Interior design and architecture are two disciplines that work closely alongside one another to create spaces that communicate on an interior and an exterior level.



There are some key differences between an interior designer and an architect, though; and we’ll be sharing the intricacies of each in this blog post.


What is an interior designer?


Interior designers are essentially experts in functionality and aesthetics. Their focus on functionality and spatial planning is where their roles differ from those of interior decorators, who focus on ‘dressing’ the space with furnishings and accessories.


When designing a residential space, the interior designer on the project oversees the internal design process, space planning, alongside finishes such as joinery, flooring, and lighting. ‘Interior architecture’ is a term that is often used interchangeably with ‘interior design’, which is most certainly a reference to the crossover between interior design and architecture.


What is an architect?


Exterior home design
Exterior of a home designed by Architect Karen Mailer in conjunction with SWD.

Architects are brought onto design projects to design the ‘skeleton’ of a home. They are responsible for the design of structures, and often also manage the construction of the buildings they have created.

Interior staircase design
Interior staircase area of the above home designed by KMA and SWD.

Skilled architects will almost always work in sync with an interior designer to execute designs that are functional, as well as beautiful to behold.


How do they work together?


Sarah Watermeyer, founder of SWD, says that “the aesthetic can’t override the functional”.


This is why it is so important for the architect and the interior designer on a home design project to have a keen understanding of their client’s brief, in order to create a home that suits the needs of those who will inhabit it.


Here at SWD, we work alongside a number of South African architects to build beautiful homes from scratch, as well as to renovate heritage homes.



Keen to embark on a new project? Contact our design studio to book a consultation.