Have you ever just looked around your bedroom and thought to yourself, "my room is getting really boring; I think it needs a change."
If you enjoy decorating your bedroom then you should consider going into the field of interior design. The best interior designers are creative, imaginative, and artistic. It helps to have a good sense of style, space, colors, and furniture. As an interior designer you get to design the insides of houses, restaurants, office buildings, and even bathrooms! It is important for interior designers to be disciplined and organized, and have a good sense for business. If you become an interior designer chances are you will have many clients, so good listening skills also are important!
Qualities of an Interior Designer
Interior designers need to be creative, imaginative and artistic. They also need to be disciplined, organized and skilled business people. Combining aesthetic vision with practical skills and knowledge, interior designers work with clients to develop design solutions that are "aesthetically appealing, technically sophisticated and pragmatically satisfying."
Improve your Skills
To help you decide if you are cut out to be an interior designer, volunteer whenever you can. For example, maybe you can decorate the stage of a school play. This would give you an idea of different types of decorations depending on the type of settings needed for the play. There are many productions that take place in a house setting (for example, in a bedroom, a kitchen, or a dining room). Although you might not always get to set up the stage exactly the way you would like it, you still take a part in the design and get to see the end results of your contributions. This experience can give you ideas that will help you later on in your career.
Nowadays, there are many TV programs that do home "makeovers." This is a great chance for you to see if interior design is for you. On the shows, the interior designer is in charge of decorating the whole house. He or she chooses everything from the colors of paint on the walls to the furniture and accessories. In many shows the interior designer gets decoration ideas from the home owners personality or taste--the most important thing is making sure the person whose house you are decorating will be happy with the final product.
[ Formal Training | Working as a Free Lancer | Specialization | Building Portfolio | Other Skills besides Design | Working Conditions | Areas of Specialization | Skills for success | Work settings ]
- Some formal education in the basic concepts of interior design is a must. There are many schools that give you a background course. However, many of these are diploma courses that are elementary in terms of the knowledge and the skills they provide you with.
Either pursue a full-fledged course at a reputed institute in India or study abroad in a school with formal certifications. In India, there is as yet no accreditation for courses in interior design.
- The other option is to work with either a good firm or a well established/ known designer.
Work with the best; work for free if you have to, because it will be worth it.
Working as a Free Lancer
You can freelance at a later stage. Initially, you should gain experience by working with either a well established firm or, alternately, with firms that provide considerable exposure and give you the freedom to show your capabilities. Freelancing at an early stage can work to your disadvantage because, in India at least, most designers are not paid to conceptualise. They are also expected to execute, for which you need hands-on experience.
It would be a smart move to specialise even as you are training. You can always diversify later; initially, it is a good idea to find a niche for yourself.
- You may be interested only in residential interiors.
- If commercial spaces are your cup of tea, gain experience in such contracts.
- If you prefer to skip aspects like costing, execution, etc then work for a firm where you can stick to designing only.
- If organisational skills are your forte, consider project management, which deals more with execution than design. Again, you would need to work for a firm.
- Create a portfolio that will showcase your work.
- Try to do different kinds of projects. It will teach you all you need to know firsthand and also work as a showcase for your talent.
- Interior design or decor is about space planning, conceptual genius and a lot of hard work.
Other skills besides design
What to succeed as an independent designer? Then be ready to pick up a whole lot of non-design skills.
You will have to learn planning and time-management skills, labour management, client handling, costing analyses and how to execute your designs.
- Develop business skills
You need fundamental business skills. A management course is a good idea, but not always necessary if you can learn those skills while you work for someone.
- Expand your network
- Research every aspect of your trade.
- Once you are familiar with different styles, concepts in flooring, wall coverings, soft furnishings, accessories and art, you must find the suppliers who will actually deliver the goods. Understand the products even as you build your relationship with the suppliers.
- Create your own team of skillers workers like carpenters, floor layers, electricians, etc.
- These networks that you create will be your backbone. They can get you better deals, which means you can offer clients a better deal. This is how the new kid on the block gets business.
- Deal with clients
- When you meet clients, you will find that your biggest asset is not your ability to design; it is your ability to LISTEN!
- Understand your client. Find out their needs. Determine their lifestyle. Discover their likes and dislikes. It may not necessarily coincide with what you would instinctively recommend.
- This process will leave you with two choices. Find a point of convergence between their needs and your ideas and incorporate as much of their wants as possible into your presentation. If you find no meeting ground, you are better off recommending someone rather than working on a project where you will derive no satisfaction and the client will offer no appreciation.
- At the end of the day, your designing style and their requirements have to meet halfway for the project to be a worthwhile enterprise.
Interior designers plan the space and furnish the interiors of private homes, public buildings, and business or institutional facilities, such as offices, restaurants, retail establishments, hospitals, hotels, and theaters. They also plan the interiors when existing structures are renovated or expanded. Most interior designers specialize in a particular type of design (residential) or room (kitchens or baths). With a clients tastes, needs, and budget in mind, interior designers prepare drawings and specifications for non-load bearing interior construction, furnishings, lighting, and finishes. Increasingly, designers use computers to plan layouts, which can easily be changed to include ideas received from the client. Interior designers also design lighting and architectural details-such as crown molding, built-in bookshelves, or cabinets-coordinate colors, and select furniture, floor coverings, and window treatments. Interior designers must design space to conform to Federal, State, and local laws, including building codes.
Designs for public areas also must meet accessibility standards for the disabled and elderly.
Designers who work on a contract, or job, basis frequently adjust their workday to suit their clients schedules, meeting with them during evening or weekend hours when necessary. Designers may transact business in their own offices or studios or in clients homes or offices, or they may travel to other locations, such as showrooms, design centers, clients exhibit sites, and manufacturing facilities.
Designers who are paid by the assignment are under pressure to please clients and to find new ones to maintain a constant income. All designers face frustration at times when their designs are rejected or when they cannot be as creative as they wish. With the increased use of computers in the workplace and the advent of Internet websites, more designers conduct business, research design alternatives, and purchase supplies electronically than ever before. Occasionally, designers may work additional hours to meet deadlines. Interior designers generally work under deadlines and may work extra hours to finish a job. Also, they regularly carry heavy, bulky sample books to meetings with clients.
Areas of Design Specialization
Designers work in a wide range of settings, both commercial and residential. Surveys indicate that a majority of designers practice at least part of the time in both the residential and commercial areas, although they tend to favor one or the other. Because commercial designers must be knowledgeable about their clients business needs, most concentrate within design specialties, such as designing for the hospitality or health care industries. Some restrict themselves to particular subspecialties, for example, designing restaurants or residential kitchens and baths. A few work in highly specialized fields, like designing interiors for airplanes or yachts, or doing historic conservation or restoration.
Skills for Success
As members of a service profession, interior designers fortunes depend on their ability to satisfy clients. Thus, they must possess three important skill sets-artistic and technical skills, interpersonal skills and management skills:
- Designers must know how to plan a space and how to render that plan visually, so that it can be conveyed to the client. They must also be knowledgeable about the materials and products that will be used to create and furnish the space, and about how texture, color, lighting and other factors combine and interact to give a space its "feel" or "look." In addition, they must understand the structural requirements of their plans, the health and safety issues, building codes, and many other technical aspects.
- Designers must be comfortable meeting and dealing with many kinds of people. They must communicate clearly and effectively, as well as be attentive listeners. Because they often must work collaboratively with architects, contractors, and other service providers, designers need to be both good team leaders and good team players. They must be willing to negotiate and mediate when necessary to resolve problems.
- Designers must have excellent time and project management skills, since they frequently work on more than one project at a time, under demanding deadlines, while looking for new projects or clients. They must be able to develop and execute business plans in order to protect and grow their practices. They need to know how to market themselves to clients, to create informative and persuasive proposals and presentations, and to maintain good client relationships.
Work Settings, Earnings, and Occupational Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, designers of all types are nearly four times as likely to be self-employed as are other specialty professionals. Many work in small firms of one to five employees. The most recent U.S. Economic Census information available, from 1997, calculates 9,612 interior design firms in the U.S., with a total of 33,915 employees-or, about 3.5 employees per firm on average. A number of "large" interior design firms employ 50 or fewer designers. Some employ between 100 and 200, and a very few employ several hundred or more.
Earnings for interior designers vary widely depending on the type of design they do, whether they are self-employed or salaried, years of experience, reputation, demand, regional differences, and other factors. As in many other professions, entry-level salaries are low, and senior practitioners and firm principals or partners often earn several times that of junior staff. Recent surveys indicate that, on average, beginning designers earn about $30,000 a year. Mid-level designers-those with three or more years experience-make slightly more, around $35,000 to $40,000. Designers who also demonstrate good project and/or people management skills can command substantially higher salaries ($50,000 to $55,000) as managers. Principals or partners in well-to-do firms may receive $75,000 to $100,000 or more.
The demand for design services tends to track with the fortunes of the economy at large. In the current strong economy, demand has been high, and many design firms are finding it difficult to attract and retain talented and experienced employees, especially at the junior level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of designers of all types is likely to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2008. Nonetheless, competition for better-paying design jobs will be keens. Those designers who are better educated and have strong business skills, as well as talent and perseverance, are likely to fare best.