If you think interior design is just about choosing fabrics and collecting colour charts, think again.
For if you want to be a successful interior designer you will also need a sound business head on those creative shoulders. You will need to be able to develop a design that meets a client’s brief – within their budget – and see it realised. So, as well as drawing sketches and thinking about material and fittings, you have to calculate costs, recommend people to carry out the work and supervise its progress.
Hours can be long and irregular, but pay isn’t too bad once you get a bit of experience. Junior designers can earn up to £20,000, but those with experience can earn more than £45,000.
Here, the experts sketch out the facts.
An employer says…
Creative director, Casa Forma bespoke interior design and architectural projects (www.casaforma.co.uk)
When we are looking for a new member of the team, we would be expecting to interview creative people who understand design, personal services and the luxury market. Candidates should feel comfortable with high-end specifications, and be confident proposing and developing bespoke designs following a pre-established concept.
A degree in interior design or in architecture will be requested. A good class of degree obviously makes a significant difference, but it would not be the exclusive factor on which we would base our decision. I would consider several points when selecting a new designer. Personality and experience would be the two main criteria. I would expect a new member of our team to be able to coordinate one or more interior design projects, to have the experience of how to structure a new project and to feel confident in dealing with suppliers and clients.
Obtaining relevant work experience while studying is of paramount importance. Students should really try to gain experience in about three or four different companies. In this way, they will experience different work environments and expand their understanding of everyday working experience.
The industry is very competitive, and clients are becoming more and more knowledgeable and demanding of their staff. Breaking into the industry and finding the ground to allow one to develop a respected reputation requires a lot of ability and professionalism.
A college says…
Founder, Inchbald School of Design, London (www.inchbald.co.uk)
Design is a profession which requires excellent communication skills. It is essential that the designer is capable of translating ideas on to paper through drawings and specifications, and that he or she is competent enough to instruct and manage builders and craftsmen.
At Inchbald, students are told to loosen up on their preconceptions. They will put their ideas on paper for increasingly complicated projects, probably starting with a single space and culminating with the design and specifications for a large building. In the course of this progression they will have studied interior technology, lighting, decorative finishes, trade skills such as upholstery, soft and hard materials as well as building and furniture construction. Students may also study computer-aided design.
You don’t need a specific degree, but you certainly require formal training for your own good, as well as your clients. I personally would recommend studying for a Master’s, because it involves a great deal of research and stretches the imagination and the scope of your own knowledge. Design never comes to a stop – it is an ongoing occupation which involves constant research to keep pace with artistic development, new technology and innovative fashions. It is also, in historic terms, a huge subject. It is notable that all the great designers are also great travellers and, thus, self-educators, drawing inspiration from foreign designers and other cultures. The good designer will tell you that he never stops learning.
A graduate says…
Anthony Brewster, 28
Designer, Gosling, London (www.tgosling.com)
I met Tim Gosling at my end of year exhibition. Tim was one of the judges and was involved in the prizegiving, so when he asked me to come and meet the team after the exhibition I jumped at the chance.
I think the main interest for someone who wants to work in design should be a desire to make beautiful environments for people to live and work in. This is the case for me anyway. Finding the solution that you have been looking for or struggling to find is an awesome feeling.
My day-to-day routine is varied. You have to learn most of the basics before you can even pick up a pencil. The tasks can be designing interiors for projects and pieces of furniture, project coordination, client liaison, supplier liaison, client meetings, site visits and installations. As a whole I would say that I spend more time coordinating than designing, but I know that without the organisation the designs often can’t be realised.
If you want to work in interior design you need to become a sponge. You never know until the time comes how much you have picked up, so simply put yourself in the position to see and hear about design and you will suck up more knowledge than you realise.