{Ei3s} Elsewhere: More on the Designer vs. Decorator Debate


Sketching by Cecilia Walker

Last week I had a discussion with Linda Merrill about her post, “The Designer vs. Decorator Debate: Can’t We All Just Get Along?”  I told Linda, that her article struck a chord with me because my mother — an interior designer with a degree, formal education, accreditation and certification who practiced over 40 years in 4 states that all have specific requirements for licensure and use of the title “interior designer” — happens to fall in the camp of those who are offended when they are referred to as a “decorator.” By my own mother’s definition, I may not be entitled to call myself an interior designer, yet she was my greatest teacher and advocator, who often refers to her favorite designer, Vicente Wolf — self-taught and innately talented — to remind me that my career shift from fashion to interiors was the right path for me.

The interior designer vs. decorator debate has gone on and will continue to go on.  I’ve gone by both and probably prefer just “designer” as a label.  What I’d really love is to come up with a more compelling title, like Chief Design Officer or Rockstar Room Planner?  Maybe, Space Ace or Interiors Guru?  Kind of like a Starbucks Barista or Apple Genius.  You know, shake it up a bit…add a little color…after all, that’s our business, right?

I did a little surfing on the subject, and thought you’d want to hear some interesting points of view, too.

1.  Bryan Patrick Flynn asks 10 colleagues their opinion on the D-words.

2.  Everything you’d want to know about the difference between a designer and decorator.

3.  The NCIDQ states:

 “Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

I’ll leave you with these quotes…

“The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what’s in or what’s out. This is not an easy job.

“[an interior designer] must be able to clarify his intent keeping ever in mind that decorating is not a look, it’s a point of view.”

— Albert Hadley, The Story of America’s Preeminent Interior Designer

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