Interior Design in Australia

While interior design may be considered a relatively new phenomenon that came to its current state only 200 years ago, it is obvious that it takes its beginning from the ancient times. For example, the drawings on the walls of the prehistoric people’s dwellings may be considered as proof. However, interior design has existed for a long time, evolving from one period to another. Nowadays, people live in the age of modern interior design that includes new technical inventions and modern materials combined with vintage styles and elements at the same time. So, it can be said that modern design is the mix of old and new styles. This paper will observe the main periods of the evolution of interior design and review the modern situation of interior design in Australia, including the following information: qualifications, skills and education necessary to become an interior designer; interior designer license requirements; important professional affiliations for interior designers.

History of Interior Design

While talking about interior design a lot of people imagine bizarre houses that are usually seen in glossy magazines. However, it is obvious that there is something more behind these words. Interior design takes its beginnings back in times of prehistoric human. Although cavemen were using elementary tools and concentrated on necessities and functions, they also used to decorate their housing using different kinds of drawings on the walls. So, it appears that the instinct of looking after the dwelling and making it more comfortable for living is primal for people. Just like prehistoric humans, some tribes of the modern world are still using natural materials for decorating their houses. Among those materials, there are the following: mud, wood, and animal skins.

The next period of interior design evolution could be observed in the Ancient Egypt. It is famous for the ornate murals that portray the way of life, beliefs and history. Additionally, this period is known because of the magnificent buildings, palaces of the royal family and other rulers. However, common people lived in poor houses without any decorations in the contrast to the chosen group of rulers. Later, after the Ancient Egypt fell under the rule of Greeks and Romans, the appearance of their cities in general and buildings in particular was changed considerably. The reason was a different taste in styles. Moreover, democracy and the more civilized way of living made it possible for common citizens to decorate their houses in the way they wanted. For instance, Greeks were used to building pillars and using beautiful paintings and vases to beautify their dwellings. In general, they were building massive houses and had strict rules of doing that.

After the period of Greek and Roman styles, other design techniques emerged in Europe. The co-existence of such styles as Italian Renaissance and Gothic architecture was quite quirious. The main features of that period were religious imagery that sometimes covered entire walls and ceilings of huge buildings. Tapestries, murals, and carvings were frequently used for decoration. The other feature was that equal attention was paid to functionality and beauty.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the interior design became open for common people. Among the styles of that period were the following: Baroque, art Deco, and Art Nouveau. Later, during the industrial revolution interior design became more accessible due to the various prints and fashion magazines that hit the shelves. On the other hand, because travelling around the world stopped being unusual during those times, design styles gained a great impetus in developing. The reason was mixing of various techniques and styles from different countries. Consequently, the age of eclecticism has begun. Its key feature was that every person had an opportunity to put together some aspects from different styles and create a unique one that would show their character and personality.

During the 20th and 21st centuries, modernism and postmodernism first appeared. The key feature of this period is that designing became a personal interest of quite a considerable number of people. Moreover, the designers were no longer workers behind the scenes. Nowadays, for instance, they are quite recognizable faces. The other feature of this period is that vintage and historic styles were revived. However, it is quite fair to say that we are currently living in the age of eclecticism, because some vintage features are mixed with modern ones in contemporary designs. People are still experimenting with interiors trying to express their personality and character.

Modern Australian designers are seeking elegant and simple solutions at the same time. Additionally, they are known for their ability to balance innovate constructions, creativity, and cost-effectiveness. Moreover, they gain inspiration not only from national and historical origins. They pay a lot of attention to literature, urban architecture, street culture, season variations, visual arts, and the environment. All of these aspects find their reflection in the works of modern Australian designers. Furthermore, they reflect the social and economic situation, as well as current trends.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the modern era began in Australian design. This period is usually associated with the modernist era. It is known because of the appearance of combined materials and plastic that were frequently used for interior design. In this period, the interiors were related to the motives of scientific future and the idea of the House of Tomorrow.

The development of interior design in Australia gained a great impetus in the 1980s. There were two main reasons for it. First of all, the publication of a reference book called Design History Australia by Tony Fry influenced a lot on the designers of that period. It reminded them that design had to be considered within the economic and social context of the country. The second aspect of the rapid design evolution was competitiveness between designers. It gave them an opportunity to increase their skills considerably and gain a strong reputation. Talking about the 1990s, the main feature of interior design in Australia was minimalism. After that period, the era of modern interior design began. It had a lot of similar features with the design trends all over the world, such as mixing different styles. However, it saved some special features, for instance, using the local material and national themes.

Interior Designer Qualifications

Nowadays, modern interior designers have to possess a huge variety of skills and knowledge to succeed in their daily work. Among the key abilities, there are the following:

  • A successful interior designer must have an artistic flair. Moreover, they have to possess considerable imagination and the ability for creative thinking.
  • Interior designers have to be able to notice even the smallest details.
  • One of the essential abilities for an interior designer is good color sense.
  • Every interior designer must have at least a basic understanding of building construction.
  • To succeed in everyday work, an interior designer has to possess high technical drawing and illustration skills.
  • Nowadays, successful interior designers have to be the persons with good listening and communication abilities. Moreover, they have to be flexible in solving problems that they may face during their work.
  • Furthermore, their problem-solving skills have to be at a very high level.

Every modern interior designer has to be a skilled computer user. There is a range of programs that have to be well-known by the designer. Moreover, this range includes various special design software, such as InDesign or Photoshop, specific computer-aid drawing software (CAD) as well some basic software, for instance, MS Office.
Talking about the education requirements, usually to work as an interior designer applicants must have a diploma and a certificate of completion from formal courses in interior design, spatial and environmental design, or interior architecture. In addition, interior architecture’s or spatial and environmental design’s degree needs to be completed. Among the examples of the institution where these specialties may be learned, there are the following: Curtin University (four year Bachelor in Interior Architecture), Edith Cowan University (three year Bachelor in Spatial and Environmental Design), and State Training Providers or other registered training organizations (The Diploma of Interior Decoration and Design).

Rules of the Interior Design

The question about the rules in interior design is a controversial topic. Is it just a right feeling or is there a unique set of rules that helps to make a truly great interior? Thus, the creativity and experimenting play an important role as there are some basic principles for making an interior design in which everything will work. Among the four basic principles of interior design, there are the following:


The feeling of equilibrium, one of the most important features of interior design, may be achieved through balance. However, it has a lot of aspects, such as color, pattern, texture, and shape balance. At the same time, balance has three major types. Among them, there are the following:

Formal or symmetrical balance – the form of balance where the spaces are divided into even parts. For example, two chairs that stand on both sides of the table. This type of design is quite easy to achieve but without a careful approach this design can make your spaces boring and monotonous.
Informal or asymmetrical balance – the main feature of this type of balance is that all colors, lines, textures, and forms do not have exact duplication. It may be more complicated than the formal balance but, on the other hand, it appears more interesting.

Radial balance – the kind of balance when all elements are distanced from one focal point. For example chairs that are radially distanced or placed around the table. However, when implementing such forms of balance, repetition of colors, texture, and form are quite frequent.


Rhythm is a crucial factor in interior design. Creation and repetition of different colors and patterns makes an eye go around the room. The main idea is using the same colors and shapes at the same or a little bit different intervals. For instance, it may be presented as using the same color for pillows and after it for the rug, making the eyes go from one item to another covering all the space.


The next feature of successful interior design is harmony. The main idea of such a type of balance is to create a unified message using all the elements of interior design. For instance, you can use one shape while using different colors or use one color for different forms.


The other tip to achieve a successful interior design is to use emphasise the type of balance. It is obvious that the same patterns or colors, or using the items with equal importance may transform the designs into something boring and scattered. So, to avoid such situations, the anchor in design is needed. It may be some place that will draw the attention, for instance, a fireplace or a large window. So, the other furniture has to be placed around it to focus all attention on it. It is called a focal point of the interior design.

Proportion and Scale

Another way to implement an effective interior design is to use the rules of proportion and scale. It means that the proportions between the size of one object and others and between one object and the total space are crucial to the design. An example of the incorrect interior design is placing a large table in a small room, because it will be out of scale. However, some proportional relationships are more pleasing than others. Talking about the Ancient Greeks, the large section is large in comparison to the small one, but, on the other hand, it is still smaller than the whole building. So, they sought proportions between the sections.

Regulation of Interior Design

There is a standard that regulates interior design in Australia. It provides guidelines, rules, and detailed technical specifications. These standards were developed to make the construction and building industry of Australia more efficient, safe, and cost-effective. However, there is a huge variety of different standards that play a considerable role in regulating the building and design industry. Among the few examples of these standards, there are the following: external and internal waterproofing of dwellings, providing safe reports on construction hazards, considering people in the vicinity.

There are several reasons why the national regulation is needed for the interior design. Among these reasons, there are the following:

  • Due to the use of the policy, the design may become an essential requirement for a business, and moreover, it may allow the design industry to evolve considerably.
  • The use of the national policy may benefit the industry through the creation of the template for all businesses in Australia.
  • Regulation of the interior design in Australia can allow this industry to prosper in the future.
  • National design policy may help with an education of the professionals in interior design.
  • Due to the national design policy, the resources that were available only for the professionally trained designers, for instance, specific software specialists, will be available for everyone.
  • National design policy may create design leadership. Moreover, it will help to develop a clear guideline for city, regional and government authorities.
  • National design regulation, as a matter of fact, may help to build better cities, preserve environment and make the situation with it considerably better and consequently to improve the citizens’ living conditions.
  • National design policy can raise the popularity of the designer profession even more and ensure the common people and especially the businessmen that an interior designer is a strategist that may influence positively a business.
  • National design policy may show the ways how the interior design may contribute to Australia’s future.
    Talking about the organizations that are engaged in the popularization of the interior design and implementation of the national policies that will regulate it, it could not be but mentioned the Australian Design Alliance (ADA).The main goal of this organization is to develop and foster the relations between the federal government and nongovernmental organizations for implementing a national policy for design. Moreover, the implementation of such a policy will help Australia to keep pace with other countries and their governments that have successfully implemented such policies.

Responsibilities of Interior Designer

An interior designer has to be able to design and evaluate work and living spaces. Moreover, these spaces have to be well-suited for the owner’s needs and usage. Therefore, the designer has to create decorative layouts for office complexes, restaurants, stores, airports, places of worship, hotels, medical facilities, and homes. It is obvious, that an interior designer has to solve numerous problems while working and will have a lot of responsibilities. However, the key responsibilities of a modern designer may be divided into the following ones:

Meet with Clients

Meeting with clients may be the most important responsibility of an interior designer. The reason is that during these meetings the client and the designer may discuss the needs of the future design, its features and functionality. Moreover, some clients do not know what they really want and need a competent piece of advice. Furthermore, these meetings usually happen on-site. So, each crucial question may be solved, starting from discussing the colors, patterns, furnishing and material and finishing with the overall spacing and visualization.

Plan the Space

The second step after the meeting with the client and observing the future working space is to plan the design for it. However, a modern interior designer is not just a decorator. A lot of different factors have to be considered. Moreover, the preferences of the client have to be understood and a design suitable for a client has to be developed. To succeed in this task, modern interior designers use various software programs that make it possible to compare furnishings, color patterns and square footage. Moreover, this software makes it possible to examine all the elements of interior designs without buying them and examining them practically.

Purchase Furnishing

Among the key responsibilities of an interior designer are purchasing and installing the furnishings. Moreover, an interior designer has to control the process of delivery. However, while the client is responsible for the services and purchases that are associated with costs, it is the interior designer that is responsible for all legwork that is necessary for ordering items. Among these items, there are the following: work desks, decorative furnishing, televisions, appliances, light fixtures, and other accessories. Furthermore, if some of these are not suitable for the client, it is up to the interior designer to reorder until the client is satisfied. However, some clients leave the decision-making process to interior designers and just wait for the result.

Furnishing the Area

The last thing an interior designer has to do when decorating the client’s space is to furnish the area. Some designers prefer to hire third party people to do this job, while others enjoy hanging wallpapers, installing flooring or painting by themselves. Usually, such work is discussed with the client beforehand. However, if the interior designer is doing this work themselves, they are fully responsible for the results. So, it is always useful to be sure that the client was already informed about all features and decisions of the future design and everything is suitable.

Interior Designer License Requirements

In order to work as a draftsperson in Australia, it is necessary to obtain a license. There are three classes of draftspersons that have to be certified to be recognized in Australia. Among them, there are the following:

  • Architectural – persons who develop technical drawings for commercial, domestic and industrial buildings.
  • Services – draftspersons who design drawings for lightning and fire protecting systems, sewerage and other services.
  • Interior – draftspersons who develop and design working drawings for the industrial, commercial or domestic buildings’ interiors.
  • Among the eligibility requirements to obtain the certification for an interior designer, there are the following:
    An interior designer must have the specified education and, in addition, the practical experience.
  • An applicant has to complete the application form supporting it with details of the professional membership, samples of work, training.
  • An interior designer must have an appropriate insurance.
  • To apply for the license the applicant must provide a signed authorization.
  • The last step is to submit the filled in form with the support of some documents’ copies.

Moreover, to apply for an interior designer license the applicant must have Associate Diploma of Arts and at least one year of practical experience. The duration of the license is one year. It costs $120.20 for persons who do not have a previous registration and $55.50 for the registered persons.

Professional boards of the country

As a country with quickly developing architecture and design industries, Australia may boast a large number of designers’ professional boards. Among these, the following two are worth mentioning: Good Design Australia and Victorian Building Authority.

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) is an organization established in 1993 under the Building Act, which controls the quality of professional services in the building industry. Moreover, it monitors and administers the registration system and, furthermore, guides the existing building practitioners.

As for the Good Design Australia, it is an international organization that promotes the design industry. In addition, it is responsible for the annual Good Design Awards. It supports and manages a lot of other programs, such as Design Entrepreneur Award, Victorian Premier’s Design Award, and Young Australian Design Award. Moreover, this organization takes part in the following activities:

Good Design Australia makes design significantly beneficial to government, businesses, and common people.
This organization fosters and supports the development of the design culture, innovations, and creativity in Australia.

It rewards talented designers in various nominations during the annual Good Design Awards.
Good Design Australia provides opportunities for new designers to show their skills, searches for new talents and united the designers within the country.

It fosters partnerships with international and Australian companies that are committed to the advancement of design.

Important Affiliations

The following may be considered important affiliations for the profession:

Australian Design Alliance (ADA) – the organization that includes various professional organizations within the country and represents different designers across Australia. Its major goal is to boost Australian productivity through the promotion of innovations in design.

International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) – this organization acts as an international forum that supports growth and exchange of experience among designers.

World Design Organization (WDO) – founded in 1957, WDO is a voice of more than 50 nations in promoting and protecting the profession of a designer. Moreover, it is still gradually expanding its influence and emerging its network of specialists and students. All of its activities are aimed at designers’ success, development, and recognition.


The profession of interior designer is gradually gaining greater popularity all over the world in general and in Australia in particular. Nowadays, successful interior designers are quite recognizable people and their work is profoundly appreciated. However, it is not easy to become an interior designer. There are strict requirements for applicants that are planning to become designers. These requirements include special education, certification, personal skills, and an interior designer’s license. On the other hand, there are a lot of international organizations and ones within Australia that support interior designers, foster the development of the industry, and provide various opportunities for specialists and students within the designers’ community.

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