Does that sound like I regret becoming an interior designer?
Because I really don’t.
I love what I do.
However, if I’d known certain things when I was first starting out, I think I’d have been even better at interior design and achieved my professional goals a lot more quickly.
Since now I think I know what I didn’t know I know it is now my responsibility to let budding interior designers in Bangladesh, in India, in Indonesia, in Malaysia and all around the world know what I wish I had known when I was starting out.
Does that last sentence make sense?
If it does, good. Keep reading.
If it doesn’t, doesn’t matter. Just keep reading.
1 – Designers and decorators are different
This is not meant to demean decorators.
But it is a fact of life that to become an interior designer, you need to take various accredited courses and earn the necessary degrees.
On the other hand, no degrees are necessary to become an interior decorator. In order to be successful, you need a nose for shades and fabrics but you do not need any professional accreditation to become an interior decorator.
So, if what you aspire to become is a decorator, you can skip the earning degrees part and start your business straight away.
Once you’ve established a base for your decorator business and have some capital built up, you can invest some of your earnings in professional courses to learn new skills and expand your business.
On the other hand, if you’re sure you want to become a designer, start researching
a. What are the courses you need to take and degrees you need to earn in order to become one (this may vary from country to country); and
b. How you’re going to finance your taking of these courses.
2 – An Interior Designer needs to know a lot of things
Hear the word ‘design’ and many people immediately think of aesthetics. In other words, it’s a common conception that an Interior Designer focuses on making things look nice.
Well, that happens to be a misconception.
Sure, aesthetics is a pretty big part of design, but utility or functionality is also a very big part of our field – Interior Design.
An Interior Designer needs to be acquainted with a lot of things, like:
- Ergonomics, so that they can design spaces that people can easily live and work in
- Some engineering aspects because the buildings they design must be structurally sound
- Legal aspects like building codes and zoning laws
- How to use software like AutoCAD for 3D rendering
- How to look beyond what a client tells them to understand what kind of design elements a client would want, what would be within their budget
And so on.
I’m not making this up or trying to scare you; it’s always been my objective to inspire people into loving Interior Design and becoming an Interior Designer if they have the skill and love for it.
However, becoming an Interior Designer means gaining proficiency in a lot of skills; and that is something you should know when you’re starting out to become an Interior Designer.
3 – You need to understand your niche
A doctor can choose to become a General Physician, which means they won’t specialize in any particular area of the human body. And many GP’s are very good at what they do and have successful practices.
Can an Interior Designer likewise become a general designer, taking on every project that comes their way?
Well, yes, you can, nothing’s stopping you; but I would suggest you don’t do that.
You must choose some kind of design you have an aptitude for and stick to that.
If you think you would be good at designing restaurants, stick to that only. Deepen your knowledge and aptitude for every aspect of restaurant design.
Familiarize yourself with the various kinds of restaurants – a pizza parlour would have an entirely different design plan compared with a Mughal eatery – and study what are the design requirements for each.
4 – You need to market your business from Day One
I said just now that you shouldn’t take on every order that may come your way.
Well, then the question arises how do you get the orders that fall in your niche? How do you remain in business?
The answer is that you need to market your business from Day One itself. Get a website. Get some business cards printed. Ensure that people know about you and what kind of work you’re good at.
That’s how you get the orders to keep coming in.
5 – Listen to your client
Remember, it’s the client who matters.
If their wishes are opposed to your own ideas, don’t override their wishes and go ahead as you please.
Listen to the client, understand what they want. If they’re looking for something you think is not good, discuss it freely with them. Offer them alternatives.
And for this you need to keep yourself up to date with design trends and always ready, able to offer suggestions whenever required.
If the client insists on their own demands, think about it. If you think the client’s demands are not reasonable, or will spoil the project, don’t accept the offer anyway.
Integrity is of utmost importance to attain success. It’s also what insulates you against complaints of shoddy work or incompetence.
Did I scare you off from becoming an Interior Designer? Or do you feel a resolve to work hard and succeed in this field?
As I said, my intention here is merely to tell you what I think you should know when you’re starting out.
If you think you’ve got the skills to become a designer, go right ahead and with hard work and integrity, you will surely succeed.