EDITION: October - December 2019

Decorating Your Home

By Jinny Throup
The art of designing interiors for comfort and beauty has been practiced for many centuries, and it has undergone numerous evolutions of style and taste along the way. However, the most dramatic changes have taken place over the past 50 years, and this has become a multi-faceted service with a comprehensive purpose. Ibicasa has reached out to local designer Susanne Schmidt to bring us up to speed on what is happening in the world of home and office decoration.

To begin with, a good definition of modern interior design might go something like this: It is the art and science of understanding people’s needs, likes and behaviours to create the most aesthetically-pleasing, life-enhancing and functional environment in which they can live, work and play. In short, it provides the ‘blank canvas’ of a building with an ambiance that reflects the personalities and tastes of its occupants.

Making this happen takes much more than just the clever positioning of pretty things. It is about understanding the feelings that people will experience whilst within that space, and how to enhance the positive aspects of those feelings. You could say that interior designers are the architects of the inner spaces of a building. This requires a comprehensive working knowledge of spatial planning, arrangement, materials and colour coordination. In this ever-changing industry the designer needs to be fully informed and up to date on all of these elements in order to create spaces that are graceful, functional and timeless.

“The designer plans and manages all aspects”

The interior designer’s job is to consult, plan, coordinate and manage every aspect of the project from major items such as the flooring, right through to the last candle or door knob. This process moves along in a step-by-step manner, beginning with the initial meetings with the client which are very important in establishing exactly what direction the project will take. A good designer knows how to get a strong sense of who the clients are, in order to come up with ideas that will work for them. The other important factor is to analyze the potential that lies within the structure of the building. The fusion of these two elements – the personal and the structural – is what leads the designer to develop plans for a living space that is functional, beautiful and unique.

A professional interior designer has the imagination to envision these dream spaces, and also has the practical knowledge to make those dreams into a reality. However, most clients are not trained in this way, so they find it difficult to visualise the end result. It is a designer’s job to make their vision come to life for the client, and to accomplish this they can be aided by modern technology. There are computer software programs that create virtual images of the design plan. The image can be used in conjunction with a Mood Board, which is a digital collage that allows different colours and fabrics to be mixed and matched on the virtual reality image. This gives the client a clear picture of how different options will look together, and it avoids the misunderstandings that may result from trying to describe a design verbally.

“Technology helps the client to visualize the design”

The starting point for making a design plan is usually the floor, as the type of flooring – and whether it will be light or dark in colour – will affect the entire design. For example, you obviously cannot choose the colour and fabric of the sofa unless the floor’s appearance has already been established. Once the floor is chosen the plan moves on to the walls and thence to the basic furniture. The final design will cover everything from floor to ceiling and sometimes even outdoor furnishings. Cushions, rugs, curtains and lighting are also included. These are the basics of a completed interior plan, but there are no limits to how far the design can go... to curtain tassels, bed linen, towels and beyond. Some of the soft furnishings may be made by the designers themselves, but in most cases they are procured from trusted outside sources.

With good interior design the finished space has a unique feeling that mirrors the occupants’ personalities and lifestyle. It also supports their health, safety and wellbeing. The ultimate goal can perhaps be best summed up in the words of celebrated US interior designer and author Nate Berkus: “Your home should tell the story of who you are… and be a collection of what you love.”