Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: Decorator, Interior Designer, Interior Architect, Architect?

What is the difference between decorators, interior designers, interior architects/space planners and architects? Then of course there are DIYers…who call themselves designers. It’s confusing, the distinctions have blurred and my profession has done a lousy job branding/defining itself.

I was trained as a “space planner,” I never liked that term. We learned alongside architects who taught interior architecture, creating functional space from an architecturally designed shell. Some designers are trained in decoration others in space. I was trained holistically from A-Z. Our program gave us the title interior designer, other programs interior architects. We are interior “architectural” designers. Every profession has it’s specialists…

We were trained to sketch to scale then hand draft plans. I sketch, and until recently hand drafted each plan. I was not trained in CAD (computer aided design). Sketching then hand drafting is an intimate process, a soul connection (no plotting points on a screen). You become acquainted with every minuscule inch of your plan. A blank sheet of tracing paper, laying on top of the empty box (floor plan outline) on the drafting table is terrifying/exciting. I ask my muse, “Please, let what ever comes through me, be in my clients’ best interest?” All inspirations are appreciated, never knowing when or if “IT” is going to hit. There is no magic button. Space always flows better after countless rounds of sketching. No comparison. Being in the flow sketching, what feels like minutes can actually be hours. When satisfied I say a prayer of gratitude, knowing I was merely the channel.

Great architecture/design is art. You can’t always understand why a space feels and looks good, it has a sense of harmony. You know it when you see it. The greatest designers and architects are the ones who intuitively know how to design, and will confess to sketching their ideas freehand.

How do architectural designers and architects compliment each other? It’s best to have both on the team, architects design from the outside in and architectural designers from the inside out. Most architects are trained to design the big box, not interior nuances. To their credit they deal with structural/technical issues; roof lines, siting, drainage, light exposure, etc. When designing the interiors they have little time/interest to fine-tune them. Architectural designers are often brought in to analyze plans before construction, redrawing entire interiors or making radical alterations.

Architects in Israel usually design the shell of the home/building, and designers are expected to act as the interior architect. Most Israeli designers CAD, no sketching and their plans reflect it. It seems Israeli design professionals specialize as consultants; lighting, kitchens and baths, space, few do from A-Z.

The US design professional prints out and brings the plan when meeting with trades and clients, taking notes on the plans, catching most details. Few Israeli trades take notes, and refer to computer plans for discussion purposes. When I bring paper plans they see it as old school, then ask to see my plans and notes.

Design has become technical and complicated. Consumers are savvy. Home improvement shows, and sites like Houzz (created by an Israeli couple) challenges our professionals to push the envelope. We love a good challenge, unless it’s a killer detail and lose sleep, it’s not interesting! My favorite part of being a designer other than figuring out the space puzzle is the framing stage. It’s exhilarating to walk through a project, when scaled 2D plans become life size 3D. Creating something from nothing, someones’ sacred space…indescribable.

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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