When I was first interviewed for a place on the interior design course at my chosen university, I was told by the head lecturer “there is a lot of money in the industry but it is an extremely competitive and unreliable one”. With all the confidence of youth I told him that that was fine as in my eyes “competitive” meant “fair”.
Certain I was going to achieve a First, I reasoned to myself that, all things being fair, a graduate with a First Class degree would be welcomed into the arms of any right minded practice lucky enough to get me! Four years later at my graduation ceremony, I strutted along the stage to collect my First from the university chancellor….one month later we entered into the biggest recession this world has seen in decades.
What is the point of my sad little tail? The design world is a tough place to earn money or build a reputation. It is fickle and bereft of sentiment, and much like life itself, is very far from fair. One minute you are at the crest of a wave, the next you are on the seabed. Anybody looking for a steady wage or job that doesn’t tinker with the blood pressure should definitely look elsewhere.
However, if you are stout of heart and don’t scare easily, there is money to be made in interior design- you just have to show a little creativity. The typical graduate or junior designer earns around £16,000, a mid weight designer can expect a salary of around £25-35,000 and a senior designer can command figures upwards of £45,000. Those figures however only tell half of the story, for what interior design offers much more readily than other professions is the chance set up your own business quickly and easily. Once in business you can dictate your own rate of pay. Some designers charge a consultation fee, others do not.
Some require a lump some of money up front, others complete the job before they receive their fee. The way you earn your money really becomes up to you, as does the rate. The development of Computer Aided Design or CAD has been a huge help to interior designers recently as it means that they are now able to work at a much faster rate and therefore earn much more money than in the days of drawing boards and pencils.
If you do decide to become your own boss it is important to closely monitor trends and to try to anticipate changes in how the industry is utilised by public and private clients. The current recession for example might have put an end to any large scale developments or even any advertised jobs but has created a massive opportunity for the smaller interior design companies as there is now a huge number of people unable to sell their property who would benefit hugely from having their homes professionally staged to make them more appealing to potential buyers.
Simply shifting your attention from restructuring old factories to create chic hotels or apartment conversions to cheaply revamping home layouts through new fabrics and accessories such as throws, chests, and table lamps and window dressings like ready made curtains and blinds, means you are back in business.
Other ways you can earn your money as an interior designer is through college or university lecturing, visual merchandizing, set design, product design or urban regeneration.
Interior design is anything but a steady wage, but with the excitement each day brings and the unbeatable feeling when you are at the top of one of those waves, I wouldn’t change it for the world.