It’s not all fabrics and fun. Unfortunately, some enter into the field of interior design with little knowledge of what the daily grind of a designer is really like. While part of the job certainly involves playing with fabrics, colors and furniture design, there is also a whole other level to interior design that may not seem as fun—but it’s a large part of the job and can sometimes make or break your career.
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In order to be successful in the field of interior design, there are a lot of shoes you will need to fill aesthetically and otherwise. Here we take a deeper look into the career of design and help outline the key roles you must play in order to land on top of the fabric heap—and not buried underneath.
Communication is King
Take our recent article, “A Day in the Life of Interior Designer to the Stars, James Blakeley” as an example. Blakeley spends a large part of his day communicating with other designers, architects, tradespeople, homeowners, business owners etc. In fact, on the day we followed him around these communications ate up most of his day and even his lunch and dinner hours. And guess what? Blakeley is extremely successful in the interior design world.
In some sense it seems false advertising— You initially think you are entering into a creative career; one where you imagine yourself dreaming up designs, choosing colors, layouts and furnishings—while the truth is you should perhaps take a communications class in place of a few design courses. After all, what’s the point of dreaming up an awe-inspiring space if you can’t sell it to a client, or communicate the plans properly to the builders and architects?
So, creativity may spur you initially into the career, but be aware that you will need to be a stellar communicator as well. We should also mention that there is a big difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator. If after reading the rest of this article, you are turned off of a career in interior design, then perhaps a career in interior decorating will be more appealing. Although, a lot of these skill- sets that we mention here will still apply in some manner or another.
Great Interior Designers Are Mind Readers
Do you know that I’m probably lying when my eyes avert to the left? Can you read the signs of my nervous fidgeting, telling you that I’m uncomfortable with your idea? Can you tell by the look on my face that you have lost me and I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight?
While it may seem silly, reading a person’s body language is a skill that will help advance your career as an interior designer. Essentially, you need to be an intuitive detective like Sherlock Holmes in order to truly give your clients what they want. While some clients will arrive to the first meeting with plenty of ideas (sometimes so many that it becomes another detective mission to get to the core of what they really want), and others will arrive wanting (and expecting) you to know exactly what they need and how to give it to them after only one short conversation.
Your reputation (and client referrals) will hinge on whether or not you give your clients what they want. You will need to be an astute listener and sometimes a mind reader in order to get to the heart of what a client wants and needs—and sometimes giving clients results that they didn’t even know they wanted or needed, but are perfect in the end.
Education is not to be taken lightly if you want to become a successful interior designer. Before you hop into a lengthy (and expensive) four-year Bachelor’s degree in the Fine Arts of Interior Design, we suggest you find a local interior designer that is willing to let you intern for them.
There is no better way to get to the heart of what a career in design is truly like than to intern; living in their shoes everyday through the daily grind. If after your internship you still feel a passion for the career, then pursue an Associates degree or a Bachelors degree, these degrees are requisites to work in the world of interior design.
But the education doesn’t stop there. Even after accomplishing your degree and perhaps landing a great design job, you will need to pursue a life-long continued education in order to remain relevant in the design world. We also suggest you dabble in the fields of architecture, building codes, construction, communications and sustainable building in order to gain an edge on the competition.
Stay Current and Competitive
As we mentioned above, one aspect to staying current and competitive is to garner as much experience and education as you possibly can. Aside from this, how else can you stay relevant? Here are some key things every interior designer should do in order to get and remain successful:
- Travel to every trade show possible, including world-wide events, exhibitions and shows
- Attain a well-connected mentor who is willing to let you be his/her understudy, and is willing to share connections
- Stay in touch with past clients, updating them on your most recent work—by staying relevant in their lives you will be the first they recommend to friends
- Embrace ALL social media platforms—blog, twitter, set up a website with past work samples, Pin your design images etc…
- Make yourself a brand. This linked article has more helpful tips on branding yourself as an interior designer
After reading all of this, are you ready to enter into the world of interior design? Or perhaps you are a struggling interior designer who wants to become more successful? Get (and remain) relevant by following our tips: become a great communicator (taking communication classes if you must), learn to be a mind reader and read body language, garner as much education as possible in all fields of design, and stay current and competitive by branding yourself and getting yourself out into the design world as much as possible.
Interior design is an ever-changing world. Stay relevant. Have fun. Do what you love. These will always lead to success.