For those who thought interior design involved choosing ready made curtains and plumping up pillows, look away now! Interior design involves the marriage of science and art and requires a multidisciplinary skill base topped of with an encyclopaedic knowledge of design theory and design history. With designs often involving major structural changes or the complete overhaul of an old building, interior design is much more akin to architecture and engineering than it is to decorating. It is NOT room dressing, it is NOT room staging! Still interested? Read on to discover just how you master all that is needed to succeed in interior design!
You will need a high level of design skill. In practice, this usually means completing an art- or design-based BTEC HND or degree. Several universities offer interior design courses – visit the British Interior Design Association (BIDA) website for a list. As a starting point, you could develop practical skills by doing qualifications such as the following:
City & Guilds Level 1, 2 and 3 Certificate in Design and Craft (7722, 7822 and 7922)
City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Design and Craft (7923)
City & Guilds Level 1, 2 and 3 Award/Certificate/ Diploma in Creative Techniques: Interiors units (7111, 7112 and 7113)
BTEC National Certificate and Diploma courses in Art and Design
ABC Diploma in Interior Design.
You can also attend short courses in various aspects of interior design (such as upholstery and decorating techniques), at many colleges. The ABC Level 3 Award in CAD Skills for Interior Design is available at some colleges. Probably the most widely used CAD packages are Sketch Up and AutoCAD so any additional training you can get with this software will certainly prove to be a big help.
Other useful subjects include fine art, 3-D design and architecture. Entry requirements for courses vary, so you should check with colleges and universities.
Whilst studying for any of the various qualifications, you will begin to build up a body of work. It is vital that you use the best of this work to develop an impressive and extensive portfolio as it this that potential employers will want to see more than any certificates or scrolls. A portfolio can even overcome an unimpressive degree mark if it is well put together and visually arresting.
Self promotion is also a massive part of the training. Your design may be wonderful, your marks might be high, but unless people know about you who is going to care? Whilst studying it vital that you get networking and building up contacts by doing some voluntary work or even an internship. That way, by the time you are fully qualified you could potentially have a job to go straight into. Attending trade fairs and joining professional organisations are also useful ways of making contacts and keeping up to date with industry developments.
Remember, a career in design is a commitment to lifelong learning, trends change, as do building processes and material uses- all of the technical ability in the world can end up redundant if you don’t know what the currently en vogue floor covering is- or at the very least the latest table lamp! But to be honest, once you have trained as a designer, you will not need any prompting, design gets under your skin and into your blood, it will become your obsession. If you are looking for a career that becomes more than mere work, interior design is the job for you.