Ultimate Guide to Interiors--Introduction

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Throughout our professional career, we have noticed that the best interior design and architecture is a combination of innovative, creative thinking coupled with solid technical proficiency. A good design alone is not sufficient; it must be combined with the best construction technology and detailing techniques. Without good detailing and the best selection of materials, the most imaginative design will suffer by not adequately meeting the function for which it was intended, being unsafe, costing more money than it should, making construction difficult, wearing out over time, and being a maintenance problem.

Conversely, a perfectly executed technical solution is not enough if the designer has failed to fully explore options and creative ways to solve the problem before starting the construction drawings. Solutions to problems approached this way may serve their basic function but will miss their potential to fully express design possibilities and targeted, client-oriented solutions.

During our many years of teaching interior construction, we realized that the reason for the dichotomy often seen between conceptual design and construction design is the way the human brain works. This is based on the left brain/right brain theory, which in simple terms, suggests that the left brain hemisphere handles analytical, logical thinking, and the right hemisphere is the creative, intuitive side. The work and questions of my students suggested that if someone is predominately right or left brained he/she cannot be as good a designer as someone who has the ability to use both sides of the brain almost simultaneously. This ability is typically learned in school and during the early stages of a designer's practice, but many times a person stays with one more than the other to the detriment of good design problem solving.

This guide is an attempt to bridge the gap between broad, conceptual design thinking and the specific requirements of designing all the necessary aspects of an interior space.

Both are necessary for a successful design and one cannot really exist without the other.

We hope that both students and practicing interior designers can benefit from viewing both sides of the issue, especially if they tend to focus on one more than the other. This simultaneous thought process is really one of the most valuable skills that interior designers and architects can offer their clients when they undertake to solve the wicked problems of design discussed in Section 1. Not many people can juggle the creative and the technical to solve environmental problems while creating interiors that are a joy in which to work, play, and live.

The first part of the guide provides a general approach to designing a detail that is applicable for any design problem and includes the many factors that must be considered. The second part of the guide discusses some of the primary elements of interior design and gives both conceptual and technical ways to fulfill the design intent of the project. The last part of the guide provides some conceptual ideas for making the connections between individual interior elements and offers some starting points to make these connections.

Because so much of interior design is proprietary--that is, specific manufacturer's products are used to solve specific problems--we have included some of these with the manufacturers' web sites as a starting point so the reader can get more ideas and information. These listings face are by no means complete, so we encourage readers to explore some of the general building product web sites given in the back of the guide to do further research for specific design problems. By applying the guidelines I provide in the first part of this guide with other details in the guide and specific manufacturer's information, you can approach any design problem wisely and competently.


Ultimate Guide to Interior Design and Detailing--From Concept to Construction provides interior designers, architects, and others involved in the making of the interior environment a unique resource for creating interior details that work. Design alone is not sufficient for a successful interior, nor is a strictly technical solution. Solving interior design problems and crafting successful interiors requires imaginative thinking and the efficient application of technical knowledge to design ideas.

Good details can make or break an interior project. Properly designed details can con tribute to the overall design intent of the project and provide functional use and long-lasting serviceability while being beautiful in their own right. Poorly designed details can break, chip, leak, and collapse. They can create fire and safety hazards, violate codes, transmit noise, wear poorly, and exceed the budget. Bad details can also be hard to build, difficult to clean, toxic, and impossible to repair. The list of potential problems is long. At the very least, poor detailing can make a client unhappy. In the worst case, bad detailing can result in lawsuits, financial loss, and a bad reputation for the designer.

This guide connects design with detailing and shows how to move from one realm to the other. It offers suggested ways to look at broad conceptual approaches to developing details for the major interior design elements common to all projects. It also provides specific ways to work through the detailing process and apply universal principles to any detailing problem.

An overemphasis on design without sufficient thought about detailing is just as bad as too much technical detailing without enough thought given to design. Many design offices and designers place too much emphasis on design or detailing, but not enough on both. Without competent detailing the best design ideas will be, at best, weakly implemented and, at worst, may fail.

Ultimate Guide to Interior Design and Detailing-Concept to Construction is, in ways, similar to the detailing process itself. In some areas, it’s broadly conceptual and presents alternatives to approaching detailing problems, and in other areas, it’s more technical. This guide offers those who may be more technically oriented some suggested ways to look at larger design issues. Conversely, for those who are mainly design oriented, this guide gives some resources for making their design ideas into better technical solutions.

Students as well as practicing professionals can use this guide to broaden their perspective and improve their design and detailing skills. Rather than being just a compilation of material information and standard details, this guide connects the disciplines of design and technical detailing that are typically treated separately. It shows how to logically think through the design and development of an assembly so that it conforms to the designer's intent and meets all the other practical requirements of good construction. It describes and illustrates how a relatively small number of design responses can be used to solve nearly any problem. In addition, this guide can be used to review and check the work of others and to diagnose problems with existing details.

Ultimate Guide to Interior Design and Detailing--From Concept to Construction provides a one-of-a-kind approach to interior detailing.

Part 1, Roadmap to Solving Detailing Problems, describes how to solve any detailing design problem in a rational way, giving consideration to all the pertinent aspects of the detail. Sections are included that describe the efficient process of designing details, how creative intent factors into the work, typical constraints of detailing, functional requirements, and the many constructability issues that are involved.

Part 2, Elements, contains conceptual and practical approaches to designing and detailing the major construction components that define interior space. These include permanent and temporary vertical barriers, the overhead plane, the ground plane, and how a spatial connection is made with openings, doors, and glazing. Each section describes element concepts, functional requirements, common constraints, the coordination required, and specifics for beginning the detailing of the elements.

Part 3, Transitions, shows design and detailing approaches to making the transitions and connections between interior elements. These include the transition of partitions to the ceiling and floor planes; the transition of floors, partitions, and ceilings to other elements in the same plane; and structural transitions of columns and beams.

The guide can be read in any order. For a good review of basic requirements for any detail or for how to logically think through a new design problem refer to Part 1. For some creative ideas for jumpstarting early design work refer to Parts 2 and 3. Use the index to find information about specific topics that may be spread throughout the guide. Any way you use this guide you will find it a useful addition to your library and a good resource for better design, construction, and project delivery.

Ultimate Guide to Interiors (Article index)

Interior DETAILS:

Interior ELEMENTS:



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