How to get in on the hottest profession
The world of interior design continues to evolve around us with a constant stream of new trendsetters aiming to make their mark. Top interior designers think outside the box, eager to meet demands for something unique and fresh.
Although interior design itself involves a great sense of style, sensitivity, creativity and boisterous attitude, an interior designer who possesses a strong passion can outshine the others in the pursuit of artistic perfection. It's a lifetime journey, transforming ideas into reality while keeping abreast with the current state of the world. Interior design is, after all, a functional art – once you have discovered your creative spark, it's time to step into the paths that will lead you forward in your career.
Path One: Choosing an Interior Design School
A career in interior design requires a few basic skills and knowledge of what influences a design. This is where design schools come in. Whether it's a six-month introductory course or a three-year bachelor degree, one must be equipped with the necessary tools. Design schools connect creative people with their chosen fields.
Design schools, whether they're brick and mortar or online schools focus primarily on idea development methods, techniques and presentation skills, as well as introducing students to the different genres and important aspects of interior design. In-depth training will include conceptual studies, color schemes, art and design history, sketching, perspective views, technical drawings, computer aided design, material research, contract preparation, project proposal, presentation and management. All of these are part and parcel of the full design process.
Some may only want to do minor home renovations or small DIY projects while others wish to build a career out of interior designing. Depending on the scope of a project, the level of expertise required will rely on the skills and experience of the designer. However, it's always possible to increase your knowledge and update your skills to suit the current market.
Path Two: Home Interior Design
Home interior design may initially be overlooked as an easy project, but in reality this is far from true. The process of designing a home is much more demanding than any other space and requires more in the way of details. Home interior design is dealt with on a personal level – each client will have their own views and this can often affect design ideas. Therefore, it's crucial that a designer learns how to approach their clients with ideas, considers the project carefully and is able to demonstrate his or her skills without jeopardizing the client's satisfaction.
The knowledge of design history along with current trends is essential at the conceptual stage of interior design. Every space in a home can either have its own theme with at least one element to connect the spaces together, or they could simply revolve around one prominent theme. The design is then implemented using warm and cool color schemes, contrasts, patterns, materials, lighting, furniture, form and function. In applying any of the above, it's important to have focal points and avoid clashing designs.
An idea cannot be realized with only images and paperwork. It requires a successful team that may consist of architects, builders, tradespeople, carpenters, installers, electricians, plumbers and technicians. Once a good team is established, it's wise to keep the group together for future projects. A history of good workmanship and design will make those future projects easier.
Path Three: Interior Design Software
Since the introduction of CAD (computer aided design) programs in the late '80s, its popularity has soared as a tool for fast and accurate delivery of design drawings. Many designers, engineers and architects use a combination of basic drawing techniques and various computer applications – mainly CAD and other graphics programs – to realize their ideas. It's not just about putting ideas onto paper; the ability to create three-dimensional views of a space enables further exploration of its capabilities and thus improving the overall design.
Most CAD programs have interchangeable file formats that enable file sharing, which gives you the option of using different applications for the same project. These include, but are not limited to AutoCAD, Vectorworks, Microstation, ArchiCAD, 3D Studio Max and SketchUp. Most design projects will become graphically enhanced using programs like Photoshop, CorelDraw, Illustrator or even Director. CAD files can be integrated with CNC machines for production. Although these programs may be expensive, their immense benefit and positive turnover make the initial costs worthwhile.
Path Four: Interior Design Magazines
Publications play a vital role in promoting interior design. One will not find a designer's work desk empty of reference material; it's important to stay updated with new designs and inspirational ideas. Magazines deliver monthly or bi-monthly articles of new ideas in architecture, design and engineering. Most design magazines focus on the different fields of design: commercial, retail and hospitality, residential, education and offices, product design, production machines and materials. Popular magazines include the newest architectural genres like Prodesign, Icon, Wallpaper, Dwell, AD and MD as well as iconic fashion mags like Marie Claire Maison, Vogue Living, Elle Decoration and Martha Stewart Living.
Once an interior design business is established, its portfolio and clientele begins to expand, which means it's time to get published. Some editors seek individual designers and their projects while others choose to approach a favorable company. Getting a project published in a magazine is the first step to free advertising. Alternatively, a designer can opt to advertise with a publisher. As the business expands, it's important to reach out to the desired demographic.
Path Five: Career in Interior Design
Interior design is a wide field with endless possibilities, including homes, high-rises, curtains, domes, decorations, renovations and much more. Specializing in a field enables a designer to focus on one area and become an expert. Combining a few design fields requires a larger workforce, and consequently the tasks will still have to be allocated to each designer depending on their skills.
A designer can seek advancement in two ways: focus on a specific field (e.g., exhibition design, furniture design or kitchen design), or become an expert in a particular aspect of design (e.g., colors, materials, concepts, consultations, CAD presentations, model making or research). Both paths depend on the passion of the designer in pursuing a selected field or aspect.
On a much larger scale, some designers may choose to venture into home investments, whereby a house is given a makeover and later released on the market for a higher value. This kind of business requires a big budget to initiate and a good anticipation for fluctuating market value. More often than not, this is a long-term commitment to deliver the best home surroundings for living, working and playing.
An interior design business is cultivated through positive work attitudes and responses. The design communicates a message and provides links between the designer, the client and the space itself. Design evolves, and its essence is connected to people, their environment and their individual tastes. Starting a business is not the most difficult part – maintaining those results and keeping up the business is the key to sustaining long-term success and growth.