Top 3 Ways Interior Design & Architecture Influences Art (and Vice Versa)

Professional careers and personal interests can inspire each other if you let them. The only thing your day job and hobby may have in common is you, but if you look closer, there may be ways your work could be improved by something you do for fun, and vice versa.

Fifteen years into my interior design career, I’m finally able to see the benefits of mixing creative passions. Interior Design was the only job I ever wanted, but I also loved working with my hands as an artist, so I’ve been lucky enough to pursue both simultaneously. When I’m not working for LS3P, I’m in my studio working for my handmade business Once Again Sam, where I create painted wood, leather, and acrylic jewelry as well as needle felted and mixed media fiber art. I often find inspiration for interior design projects in unexpected places, including my yarn stash.

Often, overlap between my Interior Design career and my visual art occurs in:

Material Palettes

Color and texture inspiration can come from anywhere, not just a design library. In fact, sometimes my best color combos are born from working with art supplies rather than material binders. I may be searching for a paint color to use on a modern wooden pendant design, and I’ll find something that compliments the natural wood for the piece I’m working on so perfectly I can’t help but think of how the same paint color would look against millwork in a similar wood tone for a current project. I love to bring samples of materials from my studio to the office while developing finish schemes.

Floor Patterns

Fiber art and carpet have a lot of crossover, though they may seem unrelated at first. Once you break things down and understand that carpet is made of yarn and has a woven pattern, fiber art and carpet are essentially the same thing, just on completely different scales. Many of my rug hooking and punch needle textile wall hangings have been inspired by commercial carpet samples, either on a micro or macro scale. In addition to textile crossovers, I have also developed geometric patterns for laser engraved jewelry over the years and love the way the lines and shapes interact, so I modified the concept to turn the inspiration from a 1” pendant into a large-scale floor pattern that spans a huge lobby.

Communicating Ideas

In most creative careers, communicating good ideas is at least as important as having them. If I lay out several finish schemes for clients, they’ll certainly be able to understand many things at first sight and may have preferences based on what they’re seeing. However, if I’m able to communicate the things that are not evident upon first glance- what they’re looking at, where it fits into the design, and why I chose it- then I can share the full picture and help them make an informed decision.

The same is true when I exhibit my art in local galleries or festivals. I need to be able to speak about my inspiration, and what went into creating the body of work, but the work also needs to make some sense on its own, at first sight and without explanation. Unspoken communication, which can be accomplished through the way things are displayed, grouped or labeled, is extremely important to the process.

Many visual artists draw inspiration in unexpected places, but I believe every creative career can benefit from ideas, materials, and skills brought in from other areas of our lives. If you take a moment to look at something in a different context, scale, or usage, it could be the big idea you have been looking for showing up in an unexpected place.

About Sarah

Sarah Mandell, an interior designer in LS3P’s Greenville office, works exclusively with the faith Sector. She brings an enthusiastic attitude to each and every design project, no matter the scope; she thrives on taking words and wishes from a church client and transforming them into a space that feels good and functions well.

Sarah has developed an extensive portfolio of faith designs, including interior renovation and design work for over 50 church clients. She has also worked with small tenants on tight budgets as well as high-end residential and corporate clients. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors in Environmental Design from Maryland Institute College of Art.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys making jewelry and fiber art for her small handmade business Once Again Sam, teaching workshops, and exhibiting her work in local galleries and at regional art festivals. Her work was recently featured in the December 2020 issue of Belle Armoire Magazine.