Residential design refers to the design of private dwellings. In such projects, the designer works closely with the person who actually will occupy the home. Establishing rapport and trust with the residential client is particularly important as the working relationship is a close one. Tasks may include space planning, furniture selection, and the specification of window treatments, interior finishes, art, and accessories. Some designers specialize solely in the design of residential kitchens and baths.
Specialized areas of residential design include:
- Kitchen and Bath Design
- Window Treatment Design/Fabrication
- Home Staging
- Product Sales
Commercial design focuses on the creation of spaces that will be used by the public. Interior designers are challenged to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their clients which becomes more complex when large numbers of people occupy a structure. Building codes, life safety regulations, and accessibility standards are paramount in this area of design. The designer usually works closely with the owner or developer of the space, not with the person who will ultimately inhabit the space.
Specialized areas of commercial design include hospitality, healthcare, institutional, educational, retail, corporate, and facility management as defined below:
- Hospitality - hotels, restaurants, casinos, conference facilities
- Healthcare - hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation units, retirement facilities (assisted living, skilled nursing, Alzheimer's care)
- Institutional - correctional facilities, detention centers
- Educational - pre-schools, elementary, middle, secondary
- Retail - stores, merchandising centers, showrooms, displays
- Corporate - offices, workstations, business complexes
- Facility Management - "in house" design for large hotels, hospitals, or corporations
- Business, universities
This area of the profession addresses the design of the luminous environment for a variety of spaces. Effective lighting design is guided by concerns for user productivity, safety, energy efficiency, sustainability, and aesthetics.
Some designers focus on the creation of new products for the design industry. Selected examples include the design of (a) furniture; (b) patterns and colorations for wall covering, fabrics, rugs, and carpet; (c) lighting luminaries; and (d) tableware.