The Need to Know: Design Philosophy vs Design Style

Breaking down the complexities of the design world, The Need to Know series tackles two often confused concepts: design philosophy versus design style.

What is design philosophy versus design style? This knowledge and distinction of the two is quite important to know when stepping into the design world, whether that is as a client or an interior designer just starting out. However, it is a common source of confusion, many mistaking one for the other or simply not fully understanding what each term means. Here at Laliberte Interiors, we seek not just to design, but to educate our clients and community by sharing our expertise and experience.

Design philosophy is an overarching idea which a designer applies to all of their work. This tagline influences all of the design choices that a designer makes, giving them inspiration and a through-line to associate all their projects. There is no right or wrong philosophy as it should be totally unique to each designer. For example, a design philosophy we follow here is to make our designs a portrait of the people we are designing for. We want our designs to be highly personalized and motivated by who our clients are. Thus, we spend a lot of time getting to know our clients so we can integrate their truth into our design. To find your own design philosophy, spend some time figuring out what causes you to create and why you want to in the first place and go from there.

Design style is a completely different world from design philosophy. While design philosophy is all-encompassing, design style is pinpointing the factors that make up an interior design style. Some examples of design style are mid-century modern, modern farmhouse, art deco, and so on. While these styles can be helpful to gauge a general idea of what one likes, often there is confusion on what style is what. 

Recently, we had one of these experiences where a client told us from the get-go that she wanted a modern farmhouse. After spending some time with her, we came to the realization that she, in fact, did not want a modern farmhouse. Instead, she was drawn to a unique mix of traditional architectural woodwork and contemporary furnishings. Sometimes, people don’t know their style, so as designers, it is our job to discover it. While design styles can be helpful as a jumping off point, they aren’t always accurate to what the client wants, so don’t stay limited by a particular style.

Hopefully we were able to answer any questions you may have had on this common misconception and provide you some clarity. All in all, just stay true to you in both your design philosophy and how you let design styles impact you.

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