Designing Spaces: Legal Insights for Architects and Interior Designers

Sharon Givoni Consulting Arts and design, Design Law
Credit: Ekaterina Bolovtsova

Designing Spaces: Legal Insights for Architects and Interior Designers

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In the world of design and construction, the roles of architects and interior designers often intertwine, yet they serve distinct purposes that contribute to the making of functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. From a legal perspective, this can have implications and this blog provides a brief overview.

While it is true that both professionals focus on design, they are different aspects of design, and the legal landscape treats them differently.

Architects: The law relating to the structural framework

Architects focus on the structural and spatial components of a building. They work from the ground up, conceptualising and designing the overall form, layout, and framework of a structure. Their expertise encompasses technical and functional aspects of design and need to follow building codes, safety regulations, and engineering requirements to ensure that their designs can be practical and safe.

Interior Designers: Aesthetics of a space

Interior designers, on the other hand, specialise in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing interior spaces. Their focus tends to be on the meticulous details that transform a space into a captivating and liveable environment. They tend to emphasise the decorative elements, furnishings, colour schemes, textures, and finishes that create a cohesive interior and they often work with the architects to envision how the interior space will function, taking into account the clients’ preferences.

Their decisions tend to focus on things like material selection, furniture arrangement, and design elements to elevate the aesthetics of the space.

What does all of this mean legally?

Under the law in Australia, the roles of architects and interior designers are legally distinct, and each has limitations and responsibilities.

While architects are authorised to design the structural and spatial aspects of a building, interior designers focus on enhancing the interior space without altering the structural integrity.

Architects adhere to stringent regulations and standards to ensure public safety and building code compliance. Interior designers, however, cannot perform tasks that require architectural licensing, such as structural alterations or major spatial changes.

While their roles may have some overlapping features, architects and interior designers have unique skill sets that contribute to the overall success of a project. Understanding the differences between these professions and the legal boundaries they operate within is essential for interior designers so that they are not in breach of building laws.

The exact nature of the laws vary based on which State and Territory you are in so it is important to use a lawyer to check the exact rules.

Interior designers can collaborate with architects to ensure legal compliance

By working together, interior designers can ensure that the spaces not only look captivating but are also designed and constructed to meet legal standards of safety, sustainability, and compliance with regulations.

This synergy results in spaces that are not only visually stunning but also functional, safe, and legally sound.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. To address specific legal matters, consult a legal professional.