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Interior design as a job

An interior designer is involved in the design or renovation of internal spaces. Involved at every stage of a project from concept to completion, an interior designer is responsible for everything from structural alterations, furnishings, fixtures and fittings, lighting, right through to colour schemes.

Designs and feasibility studies are produced for commercial, leisure and domestic properties, and the designer oversees the project from beginning to end. Interior designers work in a broad range of different commercial or domestic settings. The job combines the efficient and functional use of space with an understanding of aesthetics.

The dictionary definition of interior design is…

'...the process of shaping the experience of interior space, through the manipulation of spatial volume as well as surface treatment.....draws on aspects of environmental psychology, architecture, product design and furniture design in addition to traditional decoration.'

Quite a shock to anyone still hung up on the picture painted by the industry killer that was Changing Rooms!

There are two ways of working as an interior designer- as part of a practice or self employed.

The typical day of a practice employed designer will involve an interchanging selection of the list included below.

  • acquiring key information about potential projects, discussing requirements in detail with clients and setting project schedules;
  • understanding individual clients' needs, developing design concepts in consultation with the client and establishing final briefs;
  • considering materials and costs according to set budgets and negotiating project fees;
  • conducting feasibility studies for projects;
  • researching and gathering information and photographs relating to the project ;
  • producing 'sample' or 'mood' boards for presentation to clients;
  • sourcing products (e.g. liaising with curtain fabric suppliers) and providing samples for clients;
  • preparing detailed working drawings, designs, plans, models and schemes, often using computer-aided design (CAD) software;
  • surveying buildings;
  • working in a team with other designers;
  • supervising work at the design stage and on-site;
  • working closely with quantity surveyors to establish costs and work schedules on larger projects, with architects to determine the best use of space, and with manufacturers and contractors;
  • remaining up to date with new developments and new products (i.e. modern table lamps) in the design industry.

And this long list of activities may be carried out in any type of built environment you can imagine. From office spaces to retail units or domestic residences to hotels- a project can quite literally take you anywhere.

In terms of typical working hours, I’m afraid your guess is as good as mine! You will often need to work long, irregular hours, which could include- wait for it- evenings and weekends!

As a self employed designer, add to the long list above, the added responsibility of identifying new business and selling your services to potential clients. You will probably work from home and though this may sound like bliss it can become monotonous and blur the lines between working and resting hours.

If you do go down this route, it is vital that you can trust yourself to remain motivated without a manager looking over your shoulder. If you can do this, you will be rewarded with an extra half an hour in bed every day of the week, exemption from a busy commute, the ability to dictate your own pay and work pace and the satisfaction of being your own boss.


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