How to Begin Your Interior Design Career

Are you serious about an interior design career? Many people have a romantic idea about the interior design profession. There is a lot involved in the industry. It is not just about designing attractive looking homes and buildings. You have to be a businessperson and a sales person. You must be very attentive to detail and make sure that everything is perfect to keep your clients happy.

An interior design career can be very rewarding and fulfilling but it can also be very stressful. Besides designing, you must ensure that all building codes are met for your local municipality. An interior designer must be very organized in order to keep everything running smoothly.

In an interior design career, you must be able to sell yourself and your ideas. Interior design allows the individual to express their creative side and interact with like-minded people.
People are just getting too busy to do their own decorating and many people have the money to pay someone to come in and do the work for them. Many Businesses also hire Interior Designers to make their offices more appealing to clients and employees.

At one time, there were virtually no programs in universities or colleges for the student who wanted an interior design career. Now an accreditation process ensures a program will teach the proper principles and interior design practices at a high standard.

If embarking on an interior design career, you will be licensed much like an architect. In order to acquire this license you must take a test administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. To qualify to write this test you must have a combination of six years of work experience, four years of work experience plus two years of schooling or four years in an accredited school plus two years working experience. As you, can see this helps create credible, educated interior designers.

Software such as AutoCAD would greatly enhance your interior design career. Other courses that could help your career are sales, marketing courses, and even theatre classes to help in your sales pitches. Obviously, art classes and drafting classes would be ideal as well for the person interested in an interior design career.

Your interior design career will develop as you progress in your career. You could begin as a residential designer and evolve into a commercial designer or a little of both. Once school is finished you may want to consider an internship to get into the business.

Interior Design By Mail Order – Does It Really Work

Anyone who is used to the traditional approach to interior design may immediately question such a proposition but the idea has real attractions and merits. Just how can a traditional interior designer become a product sold at a distance by mail order or over the internet?

Traditional Interior Design

Interior design is one of the visual and tactile arts. Its practitioners work with fabric, wood, glass, metal and colour and the finished product always needs to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated. Photographs rarely do justice to real room settings, which is why many photographs of rooms are in fact staged settings in a photo studio.

Despite this, interior designers usually work in a logical and progressive way, starting with two key points:

  • The room as it currently is. In particular those aspects which cannot change, such as the direction of sunlight or position of a chimney.
  • The aspirations and goals of the client, including personal taste, budget and the desire to retain certain items or themes from the existing environment.
  • Traditionally, it may seem that an interior designer somehow effortlessly absorbs the key points. However in reality they are merely building up a clear mental picture, supported by notes, photos, sketches and measurements.

    Interior Design at a Distance

    Just how can a designer build up a picture of a room without actually visiting it? Well, it is entirely practical for much of the first stage of the interior design process to be treated as a structured process. This applies to capturing all the factual information about the existing room which can be recorded on a survey form or questionnaire.

    In fact a survey form or questionnaire is a great tool for capturing the client’s personal tastes, preferences and lifestyle aspirations. Often partners living together have differing requirements, goals and tastes, but one may be more assertive. If both use identical survey questionnaires and then compare their thoughts it will help enormously in reaching a suitable compromise less a lot of argument or suppressed anger.

    Even if two partners use this approach to interior design and do agree a compromise, both sets of information would be analysed by the interior designer so that the resultant design proposal will be attractive to both parties, rather than a neutral watered-down design.

    How does it work

    The more information the client provides about their room and tastes the better the final design will be. It helps considerably if the client can provide swatches or samples of fabric (e.g. from a three piece suite or carpet) that are already in use or planned.

    Similarly the interior designer will appreciate it if the client collects magazine clippings that illustrate styles that they particularly like and dislike. These can be submitted with the survey or questionnaire.

    Once the questionnaire is complete the client usually packs this up with material samples, magazine clippings, room photographs and sketch floor plans. The whole pack is sent to the interior designer.

    Based on the information received the designer starts work putting together a personal plan for the client. Often the designer will phone the client to make sure they understand the requirements or clarify some detail. Also once the designer starts to formulate a design they will run it past the client to test whether the solution is a good match to the requirement.

    Finally the designer will formulate a detailed plan which will be sent to the client by post. This may include some or all of the following:

  • Mood board with samples of proposed fabric, carpet, paint, wood-work etc.
  • Computer aided design of the room
  • Inventory of materials required; description, quantity, source and price.
  • Once the client receives their room design by post hopefully it will meet all their requirements, but there is always room for refinement with the designer. The client then has several options:

  • They can implement the design themselves. Perhaps they are confident at decorating and “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) but lack confidence in the design process? The client would then source the materials and any help from contractors locally.
  • Alternatively they may be able to order some or all of the recommended materials from the interior designer. Everything from a tin of paint, through finished curtains, right up to items of furniture could be delivered to the client’s door!
  • A third possibility would be to revert back to a more traditional interior design model. If the client really liked the design that arrived by post they could still call in the designer to manage the implementation on site, assuming the travelling distance was still practical!
  • Why do interior design at a distance?

    Mail-order design is ideal for clients who are leading busy lives. Perhaps the client wants to re-style their home but they spend most of their time away on international business. In the normal course of business it can be very difficult for the client and the designer to synchronise appointments on site. Working by post, e-mail and phone can actually speed up the process considerably.

    Other clients are somewhat shy or embarrassed at having an interior designer in their home. Perhaps they feel the designer will criticise their existing home or their taste. Interior design at a distance can be a good solution and it certainly can break down barriers.

    It may come as a surprise, but mail order interior design can be a very cost effective way of getting a unique personal interior design for your home.

    What Subjects Can Be Taken on an Interior Design Course?

    Potential candidates of interior design naturally would like to know what subjects are studied on an interior design course so that they can decide if they want to take the next step into a new career.

    There is a wide variety of subjects that can be taken on these types of courses, some of which are not necessary for someone who quickly wants to start work as an interior designer.

    If you were to ask a group of interior designers what they considered to be the best sessions to take to become familiar with the processes of interior design, you could compile a list of common choices as there would likely be agreement on those which are the most useful.

    Everybody has a different set of personality attributes and because interior design students are changing their careers from a diverse range of work backgrounds, there are different subject types and different approaches to get the necessary information to them. There is always more than one way to learn something, for example, interior design can be taught by demonstration (learning by doing) or from reading up on the subject and applying, for example, what has been done before to what makes sense to you. In addition, some people are organised, some are very creative and courses will hopefully train individuals to have both of those traits or meet in the middle.

    There are a number of courses that many have deemed as fundamental to their careers in interior design and I will list them here:

    1. Interior Design

    The main subject itself, is obviously necessary. Organisations might have different names for this topic, for example, the ‘business of interior design’. Interior designers actually work on projects, earning fees by contracting with clients to design a room or rooms in their homes. Any good course will therefore explain to the student what is involved in the process of acquiring the project, doing the client presentation, showing how to choose the correct fabrics and discussing anything a design student would need to know while working on a project such as time management, presentation etc.

    2. Soft Furnishings

    The subject could also called be F, F & E (Furniture, Fittings and Equipment) and shows how to correctly dress a given room with all of the items that are going into it. For example, if you imagine the permutations available when giving an interior designer an empty room to fill, they would need to choose the correct sofas, tables, cabinets etc to fill that space. Some of these items can be bought from retail channels but a good course will deal with the natural exceptions to the rule. Given that the designer is going to fulfil the client brief, that brief could change over time or the client might want to have something made especially for them. This course would also deal with contemporary styles, current colour trends and would need to make sure that students understand every stage of completing the brief.

    3. Auto cad

    This is the go to software for dealing with 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional projects and because of its wide usage; all students of interior design need to learn how to use it at some level. There are courses on this software ranging from beginners to advanced but normally a student ingrained in the basics can then find their way around its more advanced features. A good course will also deal with exporting .dwg files so that they can be imported into additional software later. Thus ensuring a much wider range of uses so that once the hard work of creating the drawings in the cad software is done, the student can produce exceptional 3 dimensional images to show off their project.

    4. Technical Drawing

    This subject is covered by most of the best schools at some level. The course involves students taking out a pencil and using a drawing board which can be a shock to those who have never been creative at school. This subject also gives candidates an idea of the rigours of drawing but those individuals should not be too concerned because once the processes are understood, later when working as a designer, the work can be delegated to somebody else who prefers the technical aspects. The 3 point perspective of a room drawing is a standard exercise and once undertaken the student will really have a clearer idea of what an interior design project involves. Understanding a technical drawing means that the student has a full grasp of all of the measurements relating to the room they are working on and they can now relate this information either to the client or a potential supplier of produce to them.

    5. Photoshop (Visual Packages)

    Adobe Photoshop and drawing packages like this help the student learn how to become creative while also becoming familiar with computers. It is vital that potential interior designers acquire the tools to get together ideas and inspiration for when they are working on projects in the future. Often the client will only see the end result of the work done by the designer but in order to take on a project, the student designer needs to be able to produce presentations for the client and these will be undertaken in a package like Photoshop. Students can learn how to scan in drawings or photographs they have taken into layers. This will allow them to be creative and produce different versions of the scanned items, eg changing colours of carpets, flooring, introducing new textures and combining other digitally content created elsewhere so that a design sketch image can be produced showing the theme of the project the designer intends to work on.

    All of these types of courses are available at organisations that are serious in introducing their student designers in the real world of work.