Why an urban planner would be a great interior designer

Yesterday I watched a YouTube video by Mr. Kate about how she became a self taught interior designer. She has a background in acting and set design, and proposed the point that in both these professions she has to channel other peoples personalities and styles. That made me think, which parallels are there between urban planning and interior design. Well, that’s what this #Blogvember post is all about!

A little backstory

In 2015 I graduated with a bachelors degree in Urban and Regional Planning. I minored in Urban Design. Since then, I’ve worked as a traffic and infrastructure consultant, an urban designer and now as a policy advisor spatial planning. For the sake of this blogpost, we’re going to focus on urban design.

Not my work, but the kind of drawings you should think of an urban designer would make [Pinterest]

What does an interior designer do?

An interior designer is different from an interior decorater. A designer is way more involved in the actual architecture of a space, whereas a decorater’s work stops at painting, furnishing and -you guessed it- decorating. An interior designer helps with the flow of a room, furniture, use of materials, lights, placement of windows and doors, flooring and lastly the finishing touches in decor.

Listening to clients or a strong signature style

Architects, graphic designers, urban designers and interior designers all design places. They all start out with a space with all its limitstions, and a briefing of what the client wants you to design. It’s also not for personal use, they all have to think about the people that’ll end up using the space. They have to love it. Granted, there áre designers that get hired because of their signature style. People see it’s an obvious [fill in name] design. But even they have to comply to the wishes of the client or the end users.

My personal approach to urban and interior design

In an article that I wrote a long long time ago, I talked about context. I used this quote by Eliel Saarinen, which perfectly sums up my approach to design. When I furnish a room in an old neighbourhood in Amsterdam, I’d do it way different than in a modern villa in the middle of nature. For urban design, a quant town square will ask for different design choices than a square in a business district.

The parallels

Long story short, we all design with care for the clients wishes, a feeling for context and surroundings and with a sprinkle of our own perspective. Both an urban designer and a interior designer have to make a space “work”. Flow, storage (of things and cars/bikes), feel and budget are to both lines of work important parameters. We’re not so different after all…

Thanks for reading! If you have some thoughts on this post, let me know in the comments or on Instagram. Byeeee!


  • I love the quote by Eliel Saarinen. I saw accidentally an episode of ‘My Design Dream’ on Dutch television and I was suprised that some of the contestants ignored the wishes of the client. Unbelievable. I see a bright future for them. 😉

    • Yeah indeed! Because without a client there’s nothing to do basically. 😉

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