Jobs in Interior Design
Over the past 10 years there has been a boom in the number of television programmes covering the subject of interior décor, DIY, architecture, property development and design. While some efforts have been more high-brow than others, what has become apparent is that the success of a project depends on the designer, whether amateur or professional, having a good solid understanding of interior design.
There is more to interior design than some might think – a number of factors have to be taken into consideration, such as functionality and frequency of use. Design skills are obviously the most important skill, but to be a successful interior designer, you'll also need to have developed other attributes, such as excellent communication skills, the ability to understand a client's needs, as well as some business acumen.
If you think a career in interior design is for you, this article should help you to understand what skills you'll need to make a career change possible.
The WorkBefore you start planning Your Career Change, it's a good idea to understand what is actually involved in the job role of Interior Designer. There are many different facets to the work, which require a multitude of skills.
Typically, you'd be expected to meet a client, often face-to-face, to go through their brief. This allows you to formulate an understanding of their tastes, requirements, restrictions and budget. For instance, if your client lives in a listed building, then you should be aware of the different restrictions in place for making changes to either the interior or exterior of the property.
Once you've had your initial meeting, you will then be required to come up with a few ideas for designs, before finally developing concepts, such as colour schemes, that you and your client deem to be the most appropriate. This can involve initial hand sketches, with finalised ideas being created on 3D modelling and rendering software, or using other software such as CAD (computer aided design). Part of this development process will include preparing estimates, and listing costs to fit with a budget.
The SkillsBecause the work can be so varied, you will also need to be able to meet these requirements and generally be a good all rounder. Numeracy and mental arithmetic skills are extremely important, as you'll be working with dimensions and measurements, finances, estimations and budgets, sometimes having to work things out quickly.
A well-presented project proposal can make all the difference as far as a client is concerned, as it alludes to the sort of professionalism and quality that they can expect. It may also help them to visualise your final ideas for their project, as well as easily envisaging any changes throughout the idea development stage.
If you are lucky enough to be working on several different projects at once, your project management and IT skills will also be useful with tasks such as business administration, spreadsheets and email. This is particularly the case if you choose to run your own Interior Design business.
You'll definitely need a good understanding of Health & Safety and Buildings Regulations, particularly if you are employing other people on site. You must be aware of what changes are deemed appropriate, what will need planning permission and the likelihood of certain changes being given planning permission.
Design skills involve more than just a good eye for design. Although a creative flair is extremely important, your knowledge of art history, architecture, the properties of certain materials, as well as understanding colour theory, will all contribute to your success as an Interior Designer. Although some people accrue this knowledge through experience, their own research or passion for the subject, there is always the prospect of an academic route to develop your skills in this area.
The EducationThere is a number of academic routes you can take, one of the most common being a 3 year BA (Hons) in Interior Design, sometimes with a year in industry. The entry requirements for a BA course vary – sometimes you can gain a place through an outstandingly creative portfolio alone, while some institutions will require that you have taken an art and design foundation course (usually one year full-time, two years part-time). There are also foundation and HND courses available on relevant subjects such as 3D design and architecture.
If you want to take a more practical route, or feel you have the necessary skills but would like to specialise in areas such as upholstery, there are many local colleges that offer short courses that will probably prove beneficial to you, as well as City & Guilds certificates in Craft & Design and a BTEC National Certificate and Diploma course in Art and Design. The course you take really depends on your requirements, the time you can dedicate and the skills that you wish to develop.
Work OpportunitiesYou could start working for yourself, but be aware that it might take time to build up a decent client base, as well as your reputation. Competition between businesses can be fierce. This in turn means that your earnings could be significantly low to start with, as often businesses have to start building through word of mouth and local advertising.
However, if you'd rather work as part of a larger team or company, there are various work opportunities open to you, although again competition to fill a formal vacancy can be strong. You could work for an interior design or architectural consultancy, but there is also the prospect of working for a retail company, which may involve quite a lot of travelling.
Owing to the competition for job positions, be aware that many companies may not need to formally advertise their vacancies, so often it is best to network and become a member of professional organisations, contact them individually, or visit trade fairs to find out what opportunities are out there.