Interior design is a process for solving the physical and aesthetic needs of people in interior spaces for living, working, personal care, worship or recreation. The professional interior designer is qualified by education, experience and examination to enhance the function and quality of interior spaces, and deals with a variety of design problems in private residences, commercial businesses, corporations, and public and private institutions.
For the purpose of improving the quality of life, increasing productivity, and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, the designer must identify and analyze the client's requirements, creatively develop the best solution, and supervise the installation of the project. The design solution will include such elements as furnishings, lighting, colour, interior architectural components and finishes, accessories and art. These elements will be organized according to function, architecture, climate and individual needs and preferences. Interior designers must be competent in design theory and aesthetics, history, analysis, space planning and programming, specifications and inspections, as well as related aspects of environmental design. Technical knowledge should include interior construction; building systems and related codes; equipment; business practices; and graphic and written-communication skills. Interior designers collaborate in multidisciplinary project teams, with other design professionals including architects, engineers and graphics and industrial designers.
Interior decoration as a career began in the US in the late 19th century, receiving its initial impetus from Candace Wheeler, who published an article in 1890 entitled "Interior Decoration as a Profession for Women." Until 1950 the decorator was principally concerned with the selection and arrangement of interior furnishings for the affluent. After WWII the rapid expansion of industry, the extensive development in commercial and domestic building, and the increasing desire for better living and working conditions greatly stimulated the demand for qualified interior designers. Canadian interior designers have distinguished themselves in a broad variety of work in the field since 1950, both as individuals and in design practices, in Canada and internationally. Others work as inhouse designers for corporations, government agencies or architectural practices.
In Canada there are 22 interior design programs, 3 of which are degree granting: Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and Kwantlen College in Richmond, BC, in collaboration with the Open University of BC. Community colleges and private schools offer 2- and 3-year diploma courses in interior design in almost every province west of the Maritimes.
Interior Designers of Canada (IDC), the national professional association, maintains an office in Toronto and is governed by representatives from each of the 8 provincial interior design associations in Canada, some of which are self-governing through provincial legislation: in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Membership is voluntary, as one can practise as an interior designer in Canada without being a registered professional. However, provincial legislation in certain provinces gives associations' members the right to restricted title and approved status with regards to application for building permits.
Canadian interior design practitioners and educators participate in international organizations affecting education and examination, ethics and conduct, promotion of interior design to the public, advocacy, and practice of the profession. These include the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER), the international accrediting body for interior design programs and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), an examining body that applies competency qualification criteria for membership in provincial associations. Both of these organizations provide affiliation through IDC membership. Other important organizations are the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC), an international association of interior design educators dedicated to the advancement of interior design education through establishing a body of knowledge and a base for research; and the International Federation of Interior Architects and Interior Designers (IFI), an international association of associations that functions as a network for the sharing, on a global basis, of information and activities related to the design of the interior environment.
Interior design in the future will be affected by an increasing acknowledgement of its importance to the well-being of people in their immediate environment.