Are You Meant to be an Interior Designer?

Students in interior design school may be surprised to find out the amount of work it takes to graduate college and actually become a licensed interior designer. However, for those who have a passion for the art of interior design, it seems much less like actual “work” and more like something they were meant to do.

According to the American Society of Interior Designers, students can know ahead of time if interior design school is the right choice. The ASID says that interior designers “need to be creative, imaginative and artistic.” The report also says:

They also need to be disciplined, organized and skilled business people. Combining aesthetic vision with practical skills and knowledge, interior designers work with clients to develop design solutions that are “aesthetically appealing, technically sophisticated and pragmatically satisfying.”

Areas of Design Specialization

Designers work in a wide range of settings, both commercial and residential. Surveys indicate that a majority of designers practice at least part of the time in both the residential and commercial areas, although they tend to favor one or the other.

Because commercial designers must be knowledgeable about their clients’ business needs, most concentrate within design specialties, such as designing for the hospitality or health care industries. Some restrict themselves to particular subspecialties, for example, designing restaurants or residential kitchens and baths. A few work in highly specialized fields, like designing interiors for airplanes or yachts, or doing historic conservation or restoration.

Skills for Success

As members of a service profession, interior designers’ fortunes depend on their ability to satisfy clients. Thus, they must possess three important skill sets-artistic and technical skills, interpersonal skills and management skills:

Designers must know how to plan a space and how to render that plan visually, so that it can be conveyed to the client. They must also be knowledgeable about the materials and products that will be used to create and furnish the space, and about how texture, color, lighting and other factors combine and interact to give a space its “feel” or “look.” In addition, they must understand the structural requirements of their plans, the health and safety issues, building codes, and many other technical aspects.

Designers must be comfortable meeting and dealing with many kinds of people. They must communicate clearly and effectively, as well as be attentive listeners. Because they often must work collaboratively with architects, contractors, and other service providers, designers need to be both good team leaders and good team players. They must be willing to negotiate and mediate when necessary to resolve problems.

Designers must have excellent time and project management skills, since they frequently work on more than one project at a time, under demanding deadlines, while looking for new projects or clients.

Read more about what it takes to be an Interior Design School superstar from ASID.

More Reading on Interior Design School Success

What is an Interior Designer?

Interior Design News

Interior Design School to Host Symposium on Design

A college’s interior design school will soon host a symposium about the past and future of interior design. The University of Kentucky will shed some light on the industry’s rich history and the future of design to students and other people interested in design.

A professor in the School of Interior Design, Joseph A. Rey-Barreau, shares some information and thoughts that are interesting to all design enthusiasts.

Humans have had an interest in designing interiors as far back as the cave paintings drawn 17,000 years ago in what is now France, but the profession of interior design is relatively new as it is practiced today in the United States.

During the past 40 years, interior design has evolved from a focus on residential work to one that now draws on many disciplines to enhance the function, safety and aesthetics of all types of interior spaces. To explore the changes that have occurred in the profession, and to look at the field’s next 40 years, the University of Kentucky School of Interior Design will host a conference next weekend called “40+: Rethinking Design.” The symposium, open to the public but most attractive to design professionals, will consider the rapidly changing context in which interior design is practiced and analyze the role the profession will play in the future.

Read more from


“40+: Rethinking Design” symposium

What: UK School of Interior Design hosts a symposium to explore how the field has changed and is changing. Speakers include Prataap Patrose on socially responsible design, Robin Guenther on hospital design and Cindy Coleman on workplace design; respondents include Mayor Jim Gray and Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president of health affairs at UK. Continuing education credit is available.

When: March 29-30

Where: UK Student Center center theater, 404 S. Limestone

Get the details here.

More on the History of Interior Design:

The History of Interior Design

Celebrating the History of Interior Design at the White House

Interior Design News

Interior Design Student Competition in NC

Interior design schools often encourage students to participate in interior design competitions. The competitions are high-pressure contests that can show students just what it’s like to try to get a rush job done on-time and within budget out in the real world of design.

Competitions can also help pay for interior design school tuition, as the students at one college found out this month.  Cape Fear Community College students recently participated in this type of competition, where the stakes and prizes were high.

The students, enrolled in CFCC’s two-year interior design program, saw their projects win first, second and third place in the 2012 Otto Zenke Student Design Competition. More than 90 students from two- and four-year colleges in North and South Carolina participated.

First place winner was Justin Nixon who won $1000 for himself and $1000 for the college. Jennifer Corson was second place winner and the recipient of $750, and Kately Thrailkill won $500 as third place winner.

The competition is an annual event sponsored by the Carolinas Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). CFCC students competed against students from such institutions as the Art Institute of Charleston, Meredith College and Winthrop University.

The charge to students was to design an adaptive reuse of a fictional building in Raleigh to house at-risk youth. An eight-page document outlined the features and furnishings that had to be incorporated into the facility, as well as the ADA and other code requirements that had to be met.

“There were a lot of technical details that provided an opportunity for the students to show their skills in creating an environment that promotes the life, safety and welfare of the occupants,” said Patricia Battershill, lead instructor of CFCC’s interior design program. “It goes far beyond the decorative aspect of the design, and it needed to be eco-friendly, welcoming, comforting and healing.”

Read the whole story from the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

More on Interior Design Schools and Competitions:

VSU Places Third In National Interior Design Competition

Local Interior Designer Competes on Nationally Televised ‘Design Wars’

Interior Design News

CA Legislation Requires Interior Design School Education

A national interest group for interior designers and architects is calling on interior design schools and others in the industry to carefully review new legislation from the state of California. A new bill could result in stricter requirements for interior designers, both in their level of education at an interior design school and in their work experience in the industry.


From the American Institute of Architects (California):

“Each year the Legislature introduces thousands of bills, and each year the Advocacy Advisory Committee (AAC) reviews bills that could be of collective interest to the membership. The AAC will make recommendations to the AIACC Board of Directors on how the AIACC should respond to each bill, whether that response support, oppose, ignore, or suggest an amendment.

Among the 60+ bills are proposals to create a sales tax on services, establish a practice act for interior design, require the building code to include methods to reduce vehicle miles traveled by users of the building (we are not sure how this would apply to a DMV office, a car dealership, or a Smog Check station), and exempt license professionals, including architects, who are called up for active duty in the armed forces, from having to pay the renewal fee or complete any required continuing education.”

More on this story from AIACC.

The bill partially reads:

“This bill would create the California Registered Interior Designers Board within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The bill would require the membership of the board to consist of an unspecified number of members who are required to be registered interior designers and an unspecified number of public members. The bill would require the Governor to appoint the public members and the Senate Committee on Rules and the Speaker of the Assembly to appoint unspecified numbers of the licensee members.

The bill would provide for the licensure and regulation by the board of persons who engage in the practice of registered interior design, as defined.

The bill would require the board to issue a license to a person who meets specified requirements, including, but not limited to, completing an application, paying a specified fee, submitting proof of successful completion of certain education and work experience, and submitting proof of passage of an examination approved by the board or a specified examination prepared and administered by the National Council for Interior Design.”

(Read the rest of the bill here.)

More about Assembly Bill 2482:

AB 2482 Assembly Bill Introduced

Important Message – Assembly Bill 2482 Talking Points


Interior Design Classes: Learning the Basics of Interior Design

The basics of interior design are taught by interior design schools through a program curriculum that teaches all of the necessary components to begin working as an entry level interior designer. With a certificate in interior design, students can choose to directly enter the workforce or go on to pursue a bachelor and master’s degree in the discipline, opening doors to higher paying jobs.

The basics of interior design are considered core classes at a typical interior design school. This is because no matter how advanced the classes become, they will always rely on the core skills and principles learned in the basic classes. Technology, colors, architecture rules, concept designs, and art studies are an important part of the core elements in interior design programs.

Students who are pursuing a certificate from an interior design school usually start with the basics of color theory. Color theory discusses the way that color impacts the behavior and moods of people, as well as how light and dark colors influence the aesthetic look and feel of an interior space. Colors can make a space look bigger or smaller and can clash or work in harmony to draw the eye away from or toward a central object of focus.

Planning is another core principle that is heavily explored in basic interior design classes. Planning an interior design begins with an evaluation of the client’s needs and follows up with a conceptual design of how to make the space meet the requirements of the consumer. This may include color choices, scaling items up and down, changing or using innovative lighting techniques, surface treatments and materials, furniture, wall art, draperies, and other physical elements. It also includes human behavior and moods analysis, practical use of spaces, and presentation of the interior design concept.

Interior design classes incorporate drafting technologies to help present the concepts and analyze the plans for an interior space and rendering software is learned so that the student can use a 3-d model of the space during the presentation. Decorating and accenting skills are first taught in the core level of interior design classes and are later expanded upon in advanced classes that cover textures and materials in greater detail.

Because art is an important element in the profession, interior design schools often require various art history and art theory classes in their basic interior design certificate program. This may include renaissance art and the study of foreign culture that greatly impacted modern-interior designs. It may also include historic studies in art and design following the industrial revolution, when American design came to the forefront of the art. Interior design schools typically involve antique history and selection classes in the interior decorating modules as well.

Interior Design News

Top Interior Design School Names New Head of Interior Design

An interior design school in Boston recently named an experienced designer, architect, and instructor as their new head of interior design.

The Boston Architectural College appointed Crandon Gustafson, recently from the Harrington School of Design in Chicago, as the Head of the School of Interior Design.

Gustafson’s professional associations and memberships include the International Interior Design Association, the American Society of Interior Designers, the American Institute of Architects, and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified designers and educator. Although he is a professional interior designer, he is also an accomplished interior design school educator and has worked as the Director of the Center for Professional Development at the Harrington School of Design in Chicago, the Department Chair for Interior Design at Harrington.

He also teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in many areas of interior design. In his professional life, Gustafson is a practicing designer specializing in various parts of the interior design industry that includes commercial and educational architecture and design for several design firms.

The Boston Architectural College’s school of interior design offers Bachelor and Master degrees in interior design. The school boasts staff that remains active in their industry and most a practicing interior designers as well as interior design educators. Instructors have a diverse educational, professional, and cultural background that helps to enrich the learning experience from which students may benefit. (About 80% of graduates from the school become employed in the industry after graduation.)

In Design Intelligence’s list of top interior design programs of 2012, the Boston Architectural College’s School of Interior Design placed twice on the top 10 list. The Bachelor Degree program placed at number 3. The Master Degree program ranked at number 5. The school was ranked at number 6 in 2010 by Design Intelligence among the top 10 interior design programs in the United States.

Interior Design News

Interior Design School Hosts Career Series

An interior design school in California recently announced a new series of seminars for professional interior designers and architects, as well as students who want to one day open their own interior design business.

The Design Institute of San Diego is hosting “The Cycle of Success”, in progress, at the interior design school’s campus this month and through June of this year.

The series has already completed three of the six seminars on the subject of interior design business skills, with the third session occurring on March 10th. The purpose of the interior design school’s seminar series is to provide students and professionals interested in the school’s DI Career Series the opportunity to learn as much as possible about what it takes to run a successful interior design business.

All of the seminars in the series are presented by the founder of Nobelinks, Stephen Nobel. Nobelinks is a company in New York that provides consulting services to people in the market for luxury home goods and it’s well known as a worldwide provider of business strategies that fuse interior design with marketing, pricing, and client experience.

The nest sessions in the seminar series at the interior design school will include Administration and Legal Documentation on Saturday, April 14th; Operations and Business Processes on Saturday, May 12th; and Research and Development on Saturday, June 9th. All seminars begin at 10 AM and end at 3 PM and cost depends on status in the industry. Interior design school students can get in for $15 per session or $75 for the series, recent graduates pay only $35 per session or $175 for the series, and interior design professionals can attend the series for $260 or $65 per session.

All seminars are part of the “Second Saturday at DI Career Series” program at the design school and interested parties can contact the school for more information and reservations.

Interior Design News

Interior Design School Hosts Design Business Lecture

An interior design school in Atlanta, GA hosted an industry expert for a lecture on the important aspects of interior design businesses.

The lecture is based, in part, on highlights from The Business of Design, Balancing Creativity and Profitability by author and lecturer Keith Granet and took place at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center.

Students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta attended the lecture that focused on the art of design and business. Most ideas of art and entrepreneurship seem to conflict, as if one cannot be both a great designer and business owner. However, Granet says that all of that is a myth and that the aspects that rule artistic design and logistical business sense do intersect.

(Read more about Granet and his book here.)

The interior design students and industry professionals were treated to a keynote speech by the designer that discussed the tools needed to create and manage a successful business. This lecture included elements of good business practices, hiring and managing a good staff, and how to properly delegate functions within the interior design business.

Granet’s firm, Granet & Associates, also created the Design Speakers Bureau; an organization that provides lectures and training to interior design schools as well as professionals in the interior design industry. The DSB boasts many expert speakers in the interior design industry, including eight interior designers as well as architects and other related professionals.

The Savannah College of Art and Design provides interior design schools and other forms of art training to students at four campuses, including Atlanta, Savannah, Honk Kong, and Lacoste. It also boasts online classes and studies for distance learning students. SCAD was founded in 1978 and offers studies in interior design, communication arts, fashion design, digital media and film, building art, liberal arts, and performing arts.


Interior Design School Graduates Can Work Outside, Too

Interior design students that love the outdoors can learn landscaping at an interior design school and work on outside projects, as well as inside design. In fact, a portion of the interior design profession chooses to specialize in exterior designs.

As of 2008, there were 71,000 registered interior designers in the United States. According to the recent estimates by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 30% of interior design school graduates work in a specialize field of interior design. They also estimate that 14% of those are working in architectural and landscape architectural roles.  (Another 9% work in furnishings as a specialty, including outdoor furniture.)

Interior designers get to choose the way a room accomplishes a certain goal or aesthetic feel. They can manipulate moods, behaviors, and productivity. The job of an interior designer doesn’t have to stop there, however. Many interiors overlook an outside landscape, so it seems fitting that the interior designer should have a voice in what that part of a design looks like, too. Interior design and landscaping are closely related fields of study and it only takes a few extra classes to be qualified to do both.

At an interior design school, the curriculum to become an interior designer is fairly standard. It includes design principles and techniques, as well as learning to choose interior materials, finishes, furnishing, colors, lighting, and energy use and conservation. Interior design schools teach students to also provide consultation services, manage projects, and work with other allied professionals in architecture, construction, and electricity. Architecture is a big part of an interior design education, and it is one of the commonalities between interior design classes and landscape design.

Landscaping classes at an interior design school also focus on the principles of design and the techniques utilized to bring designs to life. These classes will often focus more on the sustainable aspects of design and proposes unique processes for carrying out the function of landscape designers in the bigger project. Community landscaping, commercial landscaping, and private landscaping consultations and project management skills are also a core part of a school’s course curriculum.

Both interior design classes and landscape classes teach students to use technology such as software programs to draw up conceptual ideas of how a space should look. Professions delve into the way an environment will feel to the inhabitants, how they may behave in the space, and how the design of the space will influence the purpose of the space. For example, an interior design for a home and an interior design for a busy hospital waiting room will have a similar function: to provide relaxation and a place of rest that is away from the critical operations that need to occur nearby. (No living rooms with openly adjacent laundry rooms.)

Interior Design News

Most Admired Interior Design School Instructors

An interior design association keen on furthering the education standards at interior design school recently announced that a prestigious industry publication awarded five of its members among the most admired educators in the design industry.

The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) released the news that Design Intelligence had published its list of the 25 most admired educators in the architecture and interior design industry; a list made up in part by the five award winners who are also members of the IIDA.

The IIDA’s members making the coveted list include instructors from several schools of design around the country. From the interior design school at Florida State University, Lisa Kinch; from the School of Architecture at Woodbury University, Randall Stauffer; from the Savannah College of Art, Margo Jones; from the School of Architecture at University of Texas at Austin, Lawrence Speck; and from the New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University, Karen Clarke.

This is the second most-admired educator to hail from the University of Texas in as many years according to the publications list of 25 educators. All of the interior design schools and programs at the universities provide superior design education, partially thanks to their faculty’s membership in organizations such as the IIDA. Professional network organizations allow teachers and students to stay at the top of their professional game and make sure that while they are away from the industry to teach interior design students, they are staying current in their own profession.

Many instructors of interior design classes maintain their own businesses and working relationships outside of the college classroom. This is important to the quality of education that occurs at an interior design school. Informed instructors who are connected through the professional network at IIDA are doing their part to keep students “in the know” about their future careers.