How To Become an Interior Designer
Every month I am inundated with CVs and requests for work experience placements so I thought it worth sharing some top tips for any aspiring designers.
Interior Design looks like a jolly and glamorous vocation; faffing around with fabrics and plumping cushions all day. But making places beautiful is such a popular past time that competition is tough when it comes to turning that passion into a job.
Often, people expect to be able to just decide to become interior designers overnight despite having no prior experience or qualifications, probably because it looks like an easy and enjoyable job. But the truth is that in interior design, like all design professions, there is a proper process to follow that requires certain skills and its not all just instinct. It has to meet a specific design brief, it has to work practically, it has to be within the client’s budget and it has to happen on time.
Interior design attracts a lot of career changers, usually women, who have achieved a certain level of professional experience in another field and perhaps already renovated a property of their own. Anyone switching to interior design from another creative area such as textile design will of course be at a huge advantage. Having ‘taste’ and enthusiasm isn’t enough, as it is a skilled profession that also requires excellent people and communication skills, empathy, sensitivity, diplomacy and discretion. Then there is the management of money, orders, deliveries, schedule of works, last minute changes and problem solving to deal with, so an organised and practical mind and compulsive list making is a must.
If you are serious about interior design, the most important skill that underpins all design work in any field is drawing. It is essential that you can visually communicate your ideas to both clients and tradespeople. This means drawing and sketching in both 2D and 3D perspective, and if you can do this on computer as well as by hand you will go far. Visualisation is also key, being able to imagine a finished room inside your mind’s eye, then committing this vision to presentation boards well before getting started on the walls.
Designers need spatial awareness and be able to think three-dimensionally too. Understanding how things are made is vital, in order to be able to correctly specify construction of bespoke wardrobes and shelving for example. So prior to studying interior design, spending a year doing an Art Foundation course would be absolutely invaluable - exploring and trying out a variety of different creative practices from painting and sculpture to graphics, product design, textiles, photography and printing. Gaining understanding of different periods in architecture and accompanying decorative styles and art history is also essential, as it will help you to be verse in visual language. For example, a bentwood chair will have very different associations from an upholstered armchair with ball and claw feet, as will purple velvet and hessian or burlap, and you have to know what each ‘means’ in order to know how / where to use it appropriately. You can use it inappropriately as well of course, but only once you know the rules; the styles, the conventions.
A passion for, or at least a genuine interest in art and design in general is essential. ‘Je ne sais quoi', or a certain originality or artistry that just cannot be taught would be advantageous too, so you will have to find and develop your own ‘flavour’. A specialism can be useful in making you stand out as different, passionate and interesting too, whether its lighting, or hand painting furniture, or something else!
The best way to get started is by simply having a good go, either in your own home or for imaginary people on paper. Creating a visual portfolio is the best way to demonstrate your abilities, as it will be a much more indicative companion to your CV.
I hope that helps! Unfortunately there are no vacancies or work experience opportunities with Stylemongers Of Bristol at present, but if ever any come up, they will be announced on social media. Thanks for reading xx