When students think of interior design, they might imagine perfectly decorated houses with matching curtains and drapes. Something nice but easy to accomplish.
However, some interior design students are fighting against this perception.
Some students in the School of Interior Design fear their passion has been belittled by Pinterest boards and HGTV. They are trying to raise greater awareness and respect for their profession by requesting a name change to the title of their degree.
From interior design to interior architecture.
Interior design junior Claire Peter said changing the name would not only lead to more respect for the occupation, but also better represent the intensity of the program.
“We should have it changed because a lot of people don’t take [interior design] seriously since it’s called interior design,” Peter said, “They think it’s all decorating, and that’s not even a fraction of what we do. I feel like interior architecture explains more of what we do than interior design does.”
John Campbell, an interior design professor said the terms “interior design” and “interior architecture” are interchangeable.
“It’s a question of titles that are used in various places. Interior architecture is more commonly used in Europe,” Campbell said. “Here, our legislation concerning licensing is done as an interior design license. We call ourselves interior designers.”
Campbell said, he believes students may want the change to provide clarity to the public about what the interior design industry entails.
Students supporting the change argue the transition would be easy since there would be no changes to the curriculum. Many students believe changing the name of the program could prevent others from associating their area of study and future profession with being a “decorator,” belittling their significance in the industry.
Rebranding the interior design major as interior architecture is not an unusual idea; other colleges, including the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, have already adopted the name change. However, the LSU School of Art and Design has yet to formally address this issue.
Marsha Cuddeback, director of the School of Interior Design, said the debate over what the degree should be called is not unique to the University.
“There are always informal discussions taking place surrounding this debate among schools,” Cuddeback said in an email.
Interior design sophomore Morgan Curtis thinks the school should change the degree name to interior architecture and design.
Curtis said interior design is essential to the daily functions of common people and should be treated with the same level of importance as architecture. She said the new name would give respect to the design element of interior design, while also highlighting the less conceptual component of the industry.
“I do think people will have more of a respect for the major if the name is changed,” Curtis said. “I feel like a lot of people, when looking at architecture and interior design as majors, tend to have a higher respect for architecture. Interior design as a major and career is something that is just as intense as architecture, just in a slightly different way.”
The LSU School of Interior Design requires students to take major-specific courses as well as select architecture classes. The program focuses on commercial and corporate interiors, teaching students not only the fundamentals of design but elements of interior construction and building systems and regulations, according to the department’s website.
Associate Professor of Interior Design Phillip Tebbutt said he is hesitant about the name change, thinking it could lead to further confusion about the roles of architects and interior designers.
“In a team, in an office, the architect has historically been the lead dog, and interior design usually gets brought in towards the end of the design process,” Tebbutt said. “If we become interior architects, I think it’s going to reinforce that hierarchy even more, that we are somehow architecture-light, or under architecture. Whereas as an interior designer, we can stand alone and not be compared the same way.”
Nick Frewin contributed to this report.