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When Interior Design Meets Architecture
Updated 2018-06-07

In the latest ID Supplement organised by the Interior Design Department, panel speakers who are experts in the interior design field - Dr. Eric Leong, Head of Interior Architecture and Design School at The One Academy together with guest lecturers Edmund Foong, who owns his own design practice and has a decade of experience; and XR Ong, who has worked as Project Director for various interior design and architecture firms – shared valuable knowledge and opinions with the students on ‘The Merging of Architecture and Interior Design in Academia’.

The forum discussed the difference between architecture and interior design education, as well as the integration of Architecture syllabus in Interior Design courses in recent times that coined a new term – Interior Architecture and Design. A topic that was brought up was the possibility of collaboration between the two modules, while distinguishing between architecture and interior design education.

Firstly, the fundamentals of architecture and interior design need to be discerned. According to Dr. Eric Leong, also known reputably as “Raja Hias” with 27 years of experience in the industry, the difference between architecture and interior design in those days is like day and night. Back then, the government differentiated the roles distinctively – architects were in charge of building the exterior while interior designers were in charge of the interior spaces.

“Architects’ final product always looks squarish and empty with a lot of spaces, whereas interior designers design to fill up the empty spaces,” said Dr. Eric.

“In terms of architecture, they just create the envelope of the building, whereas interior design takes on a personal touch in fulfilling the requirements of clients,” added XR.

Today, the government is trying to merge architecture and interior design together as times are changing and many interior designers try their hands at designing buildings but unfortunately they lacked the knowledge on structure. While it is a good move, he thinks Interior Design should not be regulated, unlike Architecture. That is because interior designers manage the interior features that will not pose as hazards to the owners. However, it is different for architecture where strict safety regulations must be adhered to.

“Every concept, theme or style can relate from outside to inside, not necessarily needed to be set apart. It is good to link both architecture and interior design together. By having knowledge in both areas, a balance can be found when working on the exterior and interior aspects,” said Edmund.

“Now we are more technology-based with inventions such as the 3ds Max, but in those days there was no such privilege, as most of the time designs were hand-drawn. Because of that, technology in some way actually hinders some creativity and originality since students move in to using tech too soon and did not explore using the basic tools,” he further added.

XR agreed with his sentiment, saying that while technology is convenient, we still have to go back to the fundamentals. She also gave a little historical insight that interior design was actually an evolution of needs rather than an invention, having first emerged during WWI in the early 1900s where war bombings left empty shells of buildings that required the help of builders, who came up with the idea of insertion and installation to restore them.

When asked how they would like to see Interior Architecture progress, XR said that The One Academy is going in the right direction, and hopefully in the future with the insertion of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), it will give designers more tools to work with. Edmund advises that there is no short cut to be an interior designer; one has to learn from scratch and work their way up while making as many mistakes as possible to learn from them.

Dr. Eric pointed that it is okay to have failures, and that it is better to make mistakes while still learning rather than at work. However, it is important to not repeat them. He added that Interior Design is a very popular course among youngsters who lead a fast-paced lifestyle these days. There is a high demand for interior designers in the market, as their services are sought by residences, businesses, eateries, schools and almost everywhere else.

An enlightening session with the forum speakers and Interior Design student attendees.

From left: Forum moderator Azim poses questions to XR Ong, Edmund Foong and Dr. Eric Leong.

Interior Design students listening on in interest.

[The One Academy of Communication Design was established in 1991 with the aim of promoting the region as the world’s center of creative reference. Strategically located in the thriving creative hub of Bandar Sunway, Selangor, with a branch in Georgetown, Penang, The One Academy is today a top notch leading international institute in art, design and creative multimedia, renowned with graduates who steer successful careers in creative capitals worldwide. The courses offered are Multimedia Design with Digital Media and Interactive Design, Digital Animation with Game Development, Film Visual Effects, Illustration, Movie & Game Art, Advertising & Graphic Design, Interior Design, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making and Fine Arts.]