Interior design involves far more than matching colours and fabrics. An interior designer will typically be involved in the entire process of creating and decorating a building – from drawing up layout plans and consulting with builders, to choosing the furnishings and adding the finishing touches to a room.
There are different qualification requirements, depending on the country you intend to practice in. In the USA, interior designers must abide by licensing laws, which differ from state to state – though generally, a bachelor’s degree and several years’ work experience are required. The UK currently has no formal requirements for interior designers, although most practitioners study the trade at some level, whether through a diploma, apprenticeship, or university degree. Whatever your level of education, you’ll need to be a highly skilled designer in order to survive in the industry.
To become a successful interior designer, you’ll need to develop a sound awareness of the construction industry, along with an understanding of how a building is physically put together. Interior design is more than choosing curtains and carpets – your concepts need to be physically possible to build, and your designs must fit with the existing style of the building. For the major construction work I use home builders in Red Deer, such as Candel Homes, as they are based close to where I live and workaround. The use of proper builders will ensure your project(s) are completed with quality in mind.
You’ll also need to be a visionary, with the ability to imagine how a space could potentially look. A keen eye for detail – no matter how minute – is essential, as is a creative flair and affinity for style. Although you’ll have a natural eye for design, you’ll need to practice your skills in a variety of settings – experiment in your own home, or offer your services to your friends and family.
You’ll need to establish some high-quality contacts in the trade industry – try to build good relationships with everyone you work with on a project. Some clients will have their own contractors, but others may ask you to recommend builders, plasterers, electricians and more. You’ll also need a number of high-quality sources for fittings and furniture – locating the perfect materials for a project is usually the responsibility of the designer.
Good communication skills are vital. Not only do interior designers liaise with suppliers and builders, but they also need to be able to explore and fully understand their client’s needs, wishes and tastes. Your portfolio will also need to communicate your expertise – a solid portfolio is essential for any interior designer when trying to attract new clients. Be sure to fully document your best work, and bring together a smart, professional-looking document to present to potential customers.
Above all, you need to be passionate. Interior design is a rewarding career, and the feeling of turning over a completed project to your delighted clients is like no other. If you’re considering joining the profession, try to get some work experience with a local designer – this is the best way of deciding whether interior design is for you.