The Historical Relationship Between Design & Architecture

By Oliver Burns

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December 6, 2015|

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  • hen we look at the history of architecture, the partnership between architect and interior designer was not as we know it today. Historically, architects held the responsibility for both a building’s exterior and interior. This can be seen in the grand designs by the great Georgian architect, John Nash (1752 – 1835), who designed and built many of the state rooms at Buckingham Palace that still stand the test of time.
Image via Historic England.

Many architects inspired by the works of Nash saw the emergence of other great houses in London such as Kenwood House, Osterley Park and Syon House, all designed by Robert Adam. Adam was infamous for his neo-classical style and an unrivaled force behind the development of a style that extended beyond fixed architecture and internal finishes to include both the fixed and moveable objects in a room. This is the earliest recognised form of interior design by art historians in Britain.

Image via Sir John Soane Museum.

Although the importance of interior design was recognised and influenced by Europe from the late 17thcentury, it was a discipline that was still largely managed by architects who often became known for their interior expertise. Sir John Soane is a particular good example of this whose interior expertise was recognised by King William IV and was knighted as a consequence. Interior works of Sir John Soane include living spaces at both 10 and 11 Downing St still preserved and in use.

Image via Kent School of Architecture.

The trend of architects playing the undisputed lead role in interior design continued right up to the beginning of the 20th century where older buildings were often replaced by updated new age Victorian buildings. The purpose of these new buildings was to include modern day amenities such as water closets and the earlier forms of the modern day bathroom to meet the needs of people at the time.

Image via Bartlett.

After both World Wars, there was an increased effort to conserve historical architectural features through more stringent planning processes put into place. With this preservation arose the need for interior renovation of existing and historical properties which saw greater importance given to artisans, craftsmen and furniture makers paving the way for the discipline of interior design.

Architects still debate if interior design falls under their jurisdiction since they are qualified to complete this part of the design process however with the increased complexity of interior environments, a separate and more focused expertise was required and has led to interior architecture and design becoming recognised positions in their own right.

This expertise has enabled a more focused approach and allowed greater attention to detail since the needs of a more globally aware and design savvy client need to be met.

Image via DEZEEN & University of Arts, London.

Evolution in both architecture and interior design have enabled clear distinctions between the two disciplines. Depending on the scope of works, interior design is related to space planning, furnishing and material sourcing, designing ergonomics as well as interior lighting and design. Architecture concerns itself with the science, engineering and construction of a building.

Image via Oliver Burns.

At Oliver Burns we believe that the interior design process goes beyond beauty and aesthetics to reflect the meaning and deeper values of the homes we design and develop. This is translated into our concept of ‘Thoughtful Luxury’, which sits at the heart of everything we do and provides a unique experience for our UHNWI clients.

Despite the origins of interior design, it is safe to say that today our architects and interior designer’s alike work harmoniously to produce homes which are meaningful, functional and aesthetically pleasing. We are certain that this is a love affair that will last across both industries for years to come…

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