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Abbie Downey

Verified Expert in Interior Design

Abbie is the Owner of Feather&Fossil and specialises in Maximalist Interior Design schemes for residential clients. Abbie has experience and qualifications in Interior Design and Project Management.

Learn » Interior Design » 17 Types of Interior Design Businesses and Specialized Fields

Types of Interior Design Businesses

Interior design has the clout to alter spaces completely. A career in interior design or interior architecture is an exciting albeit competitive one. However, the scope of work for a professional interior designer has now gone beyond creating beautiful and functional environments. As the industry evolves, interior decorators and designers are revaluating their roles in society and using a diverse range of fields and unique niches to enhance all different kinds of real estate.

While it still calls for creativity, science collaboration, people-skill, administrative and communication skills, and the general know-how of human psychology and behavior, the key axioms of interior design services are changing. As opposed to traditional beliefs that interior design is strictly for enclosed interior spaces, skills are being put to exemplary use across space and fields. With each of these specialized niches, not only does the client ideology change but also the functionality of the design space varies vastly.

Basic skills like modeling software, understanding of blueprints, space planning, knowledge of building codes, universal standards, etc., are a must across every sector from the most common residential design to the comparatively new production design. However, the designers are having to wield a plethora of fresh skillsets and dedication to follow their passion in the newer arenas.

While we will not be delving deep into the well-established fields like residential interior design, corporate design, and healthcare design, let’s take a closer look at some of the most contemporary niches in the interior design business that are revolutionizing the markets and getting featured in publication giants like Architectural Digest and Archdaily.

Read also – 10 Popular Types of Interior Design Styles

17 Top Specialized Fields in the Interior Design Industry:

1. Commercial interior design

While commercial designers have existed for some time now, dedicating their practice to public spaces, malls, entertainment hubs, shops, theaters, etc., never before has so much stress been laid on consumer satisfaction and user experience.

Brand identity and brand doctrine are the centers of retail design today. Interior designers need to promote customer interaction through designs that not just lead to sales but also to building a lifelong, holistic consumer-supplier relationship.

The millennial and Gen-Z collaboration with retail spaces is noted to be largely based on the happiness quotient derived from that space. They not only wish to make a purchase but also connect with the brand as a whole.

Here, nuanced aspects of retail interior design like branding, signage, way-finding, display design, etc., are to be well-thought-out. Commercial interior designers are thus, also getting hired by established marketing and branding firms.

Read also – Commercial Interior Design Ideas

Commercial interior designers

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2. Sustainable interior design

Environmental consciousness is the need of the hour, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is trickling down to interior design trends as well now. Such sustainable interior designers have adopted ecologically responsible solutions and interior design work in their business.

Again it goes without saying that this generation is keen to make choices and strategies that benefit the earth and in no way cause further harm. Practices such as low carbon footprint designs, and zero environmental impact ideas, are given preference as these designers craft efficient yet low maintenance at competent costs.

These designers elect high-quality non-toxic, eco-friendly building materials and sustainable choices. It must be noted, including a designer from the inception stage is crucial for utmost sustainable efficacy.

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For instance, installing solar panels instead of conventional power supply, making provisions for biogas composting, and rainwater harvesting coupled with correct insulation and indigenous construction materials can help conserve resources.

Sustainable interior designers can find means of improving the air and water quality of the building to increase its energy efficiency. Regular flooring materials are substituted for eco-friendly materials like cork, bamboo sheets, etc. many of these interior designers also aim to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Read also – 9 Best Sustainable Architecture Design Ideas

3. Restoration

Interior designers in restoration projects make conscious decisions to identify unique features and iconic elements on the brink of decay and re-form them. Such restoration projects are not just an effort to maintain structures and spaces that are culturally significant to the indigenous communities but also aim to provide them with probable economic opportunities.

These designers have a big hand in integrating these dated structures with modern requirements. For instance, the Villa Heike, once used by Stasi or the German security service, has been restored to house creative studios for artists and visitors.

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While some restorers specialize in specific areas of restoration, like furniture, plasterwork, murals, etc., others focus on sourcing vintage trappings and supplies to be used in the design projects.

However, each designer is always sensitive towards the building materials used, features like fountains and windcatchers that affect the climate, legitimate use of allocated budgets and funds, and legal ramifications applicable for such undertakings. That means they not only have to ensure that materials used to restore the structure do not adversely affect the existing structure but also use technologically advanced methods in a minimally invasive way for repair.

These designers must consult and collaborate with highly experienced architectural firms, high-end structural engineers, skilled craftsmen and artists, eminent art curators, and proficient legal advisers while refurbishing such priceless, vintage structures, interiors, furniture, and artworks. The result of such restoration projects is recreating and maintaining the rich heritage left behind by erstwhile artists for future generations to witness and enjoy!

Read also – 10 Best Home Remodeling and Renovation Ideas

4. Classroom Interior Design

Places of learning have transcended from typical classrooms to interior spaces that invigorate and inspire students to pursue their passion. But most existing structures are often outdated and incapable of supporting new technology and maxims. Thus, from local schools and community colleges to renowned universities and private institutes, establishments are engaging interior design companies to enhance the learning experience.


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These designers employ every strategy from child and human psychology to color theory, ergonomics, etc., to ensure that places of education become rewarding and successful. Nowadays, schools are incorporating sweeping concepts such as vegetable patches where students can tend to their produce as a lesson on sustainability and self-reliance.

5. Production interior designer

A production interior designer or set or stage designer enjoys a career that’s filled with fun and drama! These are often passionate creatives with a flair for visual arts and theater who are ok with the exhaustingly long working hours.

A production designer is in charge of crafting different sets of designs, props, lighting, graphics, and sometimes even costumes for cinema, television, and theatre productions.

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After the scripts and concepts are hammered down, characters, history, scenes, locations, studios, etc., are debated upon. Long sessions with the directors, actors, crew, special effects team and dress designers are all part of the long hours that go into production designing.

Once the drawings are finalized and suitable materials sourced, the construction of the set begins. Similarly, they are also required to be hands-on during rehearsals, production, and shooting. Most production designers are highly experienced or have been entry-level employees at a production house.

Read also – Which Interior Design Jobs Have The Best Pay?

6. Visual Merchandiser

Visual merchandisers work in tandem with retail designers and sales and marketing departments. They are often brand zealots with an eye for the latest trends, social media, and fashion.

They are hired in retail environments and even museums and galleries to enhance marketing plans through visual strategies and promote different products, events, and services. An efficient merchandising designer will be adept at marketing the brand and creating excitement about launches and promotional events within the targeted audience.

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Their forte includes everything from the window and in-store display ideas, way-finding, and signage, to researching the current and future market trends. They are also in charge of outsourcing visual and communication materials from suppliers, graphic designers, and artists.

Visual merchandising designers are all over the place, from the conception and reinforcement of these strategies to collecting client feedback and charting improvement.

Read also – 10 Tips for Interior Designers to Deal With Supply Delays

7. Exhibition Designer

Exhibition designing is suitable for designers who can combine creativity with level-headedness and good business acumen. An exhibition designer works fine under pressure, enjoys collaborations and socialization, can meet deadlines, and iron out roadblocks with great aplomb.

These individuals work on commercial-scale exhibitions, large client bases, public events, trade shows, expos, cultural conferences, and international exhibitions. A stellar example is the Expo 2020 Dubai operating in full swing even amidst the global pandemic.

The designers are boarded right at the inception stage. Discussing themes, products, investors, participants, exhibitors, design ideas, concepts, proposals are all part of the job.

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It is the designer’s responsibility to ensure that even temporary displays are appealing, functional, and within budget. From prototypes, 3d models, templates, transportation, and final construction and installation to the lighting and technology, every exhibition put up has to interpret and convey the brand objectives, concept, and theme of the clients through an outstanding display.

They are also majorly responsible for the budgeting, costing, and profits of such an exhibition. In a museum exhibition, designers work closely with artists and curators to seamlessly blend in the new exhibit do justice to the artist’s perspective while always aligning with the museum’s history, style, and other collections.

The job of an interior designer can be hectic and taxing, with a lot of physical and mental labor required. While the pressure may never really be off, we are going to give the low-down of how interior decorators, startups, and small business owners can make some extra profits in their own business without renouncing entire weekends. Home improvement, custom furniture design, design consultation, graphic design etc., are run of the mill ideas.

Read also – Installation Day Tips for Interior Designers

8. Interior Decorator

It might be time to get into home decor and soft furnishings if you have fertile creativity. You can start by introducing a few items at a time into your designer line, like pillow covers, rugs, curtains, etc., and make them exclusively available to your clients.

You don’t need to produce and release your collection. You can decide to specialize in sourcing out and pricing unique, antique, or handcrafted gems from all around the world for your clientele.

Read also – 40 Best Home Decor Online Stores

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9. Antique artifacts restoration

Speaking of antiques, clients are oftentimes stumped by the care or repairs of these invaluable pieces. Designers who have such knowledge can solely focus on professional upkeep, maintenance, and refurbishment for a new business idea. You can even flip your finds for high profits should the clients wish to dispose of them off.

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10. Event and Holiday decoration

Granted you may have little time for your holiday shopping here, but bedecking homes, offices, and especially large, luxury hotels for the holidays or special occasions can gain you some weighty profits.

Think Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and finally Birthdays, baby showers, etc., where there’s a heavy focus on interior embellishments and ambiance. This undertaking can also be great fun, provided you find the ideal clients!

Read also – 35 Best Spring Decorating Ideas

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11. Artwork supply

Boutique and luxury hotels are often known for the elite and enthralling artworks lining their hallways, foyers, and rooms. Designers who travel the world recurrently, or are connected to the art industry, and artists can easily make big bucks by peddling such prized goods.

Make a habit of attending exhibitions or even flea markets at different locales, you may just find some treasures. Beware of counterfeit or low-quality produce, however. You can even promote local and indigenous art, like the Saxon hotel in Johannesburg, which boasts of an impressive native art collection.

Read also – Hotel Interior Design: Everything You Need To Know

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12. Interior landscaping

Society has realized the significance of indoor greenery and is keen to jump in on its benefits. But this means much more than throwing a few pots and pans around, especially for celebs and high-end resorts, malls, etc. These designers specialize solely in indoor landscaping, Zen gardens, and vertical walls to pacify the homeowners with a new look.

Read also – Why Landscape Architecture Is Important?

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13. Home office Planner

The importance and high demand for home offices have been one of the outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic. While designing a luxurious workstation is an art in itself, the designers also need to carry out ingenious redesign of every inch where space is limited to form an exceptional office space that multi-functions.

Read also – 7 Best Modern Home Office Design Ideas

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14. Tiles and stone installation

Natural stones, ceramic tiles, and clay tiles have never gone out of trend. However, from adorning the backsplash to lining the bathroom walls, there is a surge in sustainable, handmade, or one-of-a-kind tiles and stones in the interior design industry today.

Make it your niche to source such designer or traditional tiles for clients. Since many of these require special care during installation, you can also master this new business with a few skilled contractors on your side.

Read also – Space Planning in Interior Design

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15. Bed and Bedding Specialist

People today don’t want to compromise on comfort in their bedroom or hotel rooms. Wirecutter reviews prove that there’s so much to deliberate when it comes to mattresses, sheets, and bedding.

And even small businesses and self-employed designers can start to design and customize for each client, by partnering with various bedding brands and designers. From sustainable and natural to orthopedic, the market is sufficed with mind-boggling options.

Read also – 9 Amazing Master Bedroom Ideas

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16. Home Storage Solutions

It’s no mean task to provide plentiful storage and at the same time make it look stylish and desirable. Kitchens, bedrooms, living room people are always looking to add storage, and interior design firms can step in here.

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17. Lighting design

When it comes to interior design, clients may think lighting is integrated and, they are not wrong. Nevertheless, some experts can add another dimension to the space using smart and intuitive lighting.

If you think you can bring a space to life by using light to create depths and heights, cozy spots, and balance, this may just be your cup of tea!

lighting design - types of interior design

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