Interior Design Strategists: Unique No Matter How You Slice It

Jan 24, 2023 | Education

One of the main lessons we learned in 2022 was that GREAT things happen when we are unapologetically ourselves. Since our rebrand, we’ve made a concerted effort to make choices and pursue opportunities that are boldly US. 

A big thing to know about Concetti is that we are interior design strategists. We’ve noticed the lines are often blurred between us, “interior designers”, and “interior decorators.” 

While they all look and sound similar on paper, there is a world of difference between these professions. 

It's a Piece of Cake

Interior decorators are involved toward the end of a project and finish the space with art or accessories. Their unique skill set focuses on the final touches that truly complete the look of a space. 

Interior designers receive more formal training than decorators and are often CIDA or IIDA certified. As strategic partners, they're often brought in toward the beginning of a project to help guide the floorplan. They also ultimately decorate the space once it’s complete. In addition to guiding the aesthetic, they're responsible for ensuring health and safety requirements are met within a space. 

While our team is formally trained in Interior Design, we began calling ourselves “interior design strategists” after working with a strategic business partner. Our partner helped us realize we could add more personality, purpose, and meaning to clients’ day-to-day by creating aesthetically beautiful spaces AND solving problems. This new left + right brain process challenged us to apply design thinking principles and adopt a more human-centric approach. Because we were doing the work of interior designers and the critical thinking that considered the client’s lifestyle, pain points, brand/personality, goals, etc., we felt our titles warranted a unique distinction.


Because this is a lot of information to digest on its own (and because we have a bit of a sweet tooth, we often explain the difference between interior designers, interior decorators, and interior design strategists through a cake analogy.



Think about it: The frosting and decoration on a cake is an important element. It’s the final step that brings it all together. In terms of projects, this is where interior decorators come into play. Like a cake ready for decoration and icing, the construction and renovation are already completed and ready for a decorator to apply their skillset and complete the project.

Conversely, interior designers are responsible for understanding the cake's vision, constructing it, baking it, THEN decorating it. 

As for interior design strategists, we carry out the same work as our interior design colleagues while also considering things like how the cake reflects the client’s personality, how the cake will be perceived and enjoyed by their loved ones, and whether the client feels as though their cake was a good return on their investment. We do everything we can to ensure this is the best cake they’ve ever had. 

Our process, much like the process of baking a cake, has a phased approach. By comparing the two, we can provide a digestible idea of what sets interior design strategists apart from interior designers and interior decorators.  


Recipes Rooted in Design Thinking

Getting to know our client in phase 1 is a lot like figuring out what type of cake they’d like. To figure out their unique flavor, we ask a series of human-centric questions. These questions help eliminate assumptions and highlight how function and aesthetic can harmoniously merge. Let’s use a kitchen renovation as an example.

  • How do you want to feel in your space?
  • What are the current pain points you’re experiencing?
  • Who does the cooking? How often do they cook? 
  • On average, how many people will use the space?
  • What appliances do you wish you had?
  • Do you need a lot of storage?
  • Do you have durability concerns (kids, pets, etc.)
  • What appliances do you wish you had?

In general, we’re looking for what opportunities we have to empower our client to be boldly themselves?

By asking these types of questions, it help us to create our Programming Notes which we use as our “recipe” (or guideline) as we start to build out 3D renderings of the future space. This process also helps us educate our clients on their needs and reinforces the importance of their involvement throughout the project. 


Mix It All Together

Once we have a recipe to follow (our client’s vision), we start to gather the ingredients…AKA finding, demonstrating, and solidifying exact pieces like furniture, fabrics, colors, and materials that are both beautiful and meaningful. This is what Phase 2 – Personalize is all about!



As interior design strategists, we’re not the only cooks in the kitchen. It’s important that all other parties understand the ingredients, how to prepare them, and the baking instructions. Here, the recipe goes into the hands of other partners like builders and architects. 

One of the most critical skills we possess as interior design strategists is communication. We can’t control exactly what the builder/architect does or how they handle their relationship with a client. However, we can ensure we deliver abundantly clear instructions for everyone involved. The recipe, and all the additional documentation we’ve prepared throughout Phase 2 ensures the professional doing the “baking” will honor the vision we’ve co-created with our client. 

By the time we were done getting to know client Scott DiParvine, he was able to leave town while we served as the eyes and ears of his Midtown, Detroit condo

Icing on the Cake

Although things are temporarily out of our hands now, we’re still there to advocate and ensure the cake comes out just right. Like a cake that needs to be baked to perfection, cooled, and have all the right icing ingredients, we do construction walk-throughs, quality control, wallpaper application, furniture delivery and more. 

This way, we’re doing everything we can to successfully reach the final decoration step (known as staging/styling). Traditionally, It is just this step, that interior decorators come in – the icing on the cake – but as interior design strategists, we’ve been in on the entire baking process.

At staging, our closeness to the project provides additional value because we know our client’s exact vision. For example, our relationship with our Naturally NEWtral client gave us the context we needed to know her love of unique silhouettes and raw pottery

Once complete, it’s time to celebrate and enjoy every piece of thoughtful and meticulously crafted cake!

There are countless ways to bake a cake…but it takes someone who can essentially do it all to achieve something unforgettable. Something beautiful yet functional. Something boldly YOU.


Hungry for a space that is boldly YOU?

Let’s get in touch.