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What Does it Take to Become a Successful Interior Designer?

Becoming a successful interior designer and staying there can be tough. Interior design can be a hard market to break and it is extremely competitive. Whilst interior design can be lots of fun when choosing colors, fabrics, and furniture to add your flair to offices, rooms or restaurants, it is also hard work. Knowing what you need behind you, such as education and a good portfolio, can aid you massively when trying to attract new clients and get your name out there. Whether you want to work with a company or break out and make it on your own, here is everything you need to know to make it as a successful interior designer. 

Finding the Right Education 

The first step in this process is to get an appropriate education behind you. Although some people may feel that they already have a creative flair and can do it on their own, going into education in interior design gives you the certification to get jobs and aids you in building a network. The things that you learn whilst in education will be beneficial for you throughout your entire career. Becoming an intern is the best way to get hands-on experience and learn whilst on the job. You can also take a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design at many universities and colleges. It is important to save up before this, especially if you decide to intern at the same time. This is because often interns do not get paid. Many interior designers begin like this and although it can be frustrating working and seeing no wage at the end of each month, the experience you gain will be invaluable. 

Your degree will help you to look experienced and gain a job, but even when you have completed your degree and earned your diploma, you shouldn’t stop learning. Interior design is constantly changing, so improving your skills in other ways is also important. This means taking courses or lessons in fields such as construction, architecture, communications, sustainable building, and building codes. This allows you to stand out from the crowd and gain a competitive edge on others in the same role as you. The more you continue to learn, the more you will stand out to companies as a dedicated interior designer.

Communication Skills Are Essential

As with many careers, interior designers need to be able to communicate with a myriad of different professionals and clients. In one day as a successful interior designer, you may communicate with homeowners, tradespeople, other interior designers, architects, and business owners, just to name a few. This means being able to communicate effectively, in a way that both other designers and homeowners can understand, knowing when to use jargon and went to explain things in layman’s terms. You will more than likely communicate a lot over email too, so your tech and grammar skills need to be faultless if you want to look professional.

Interior design is a creative career, but communication is essential whether you create a space someone loves or create a space someone hates. This doesn’t just mean being able to speak to others, but also to listen and understand what people want. Sometimes life as an interior designer is rushed and people can talk at you very quickly. You need to be able to retain information and understand what others are asking of you. This is why we recommend taking courses in architecture and other fields, as this gives you more of an idea of what an architect is speaking to you about, so there are no crossed wires. There is no use being an amazing interior designer if you can’t communicate your beautiful designs to clients, architects or builders. 

If you want to learn to be a good communicator, becoming an intern is a great way to watch other professionals at work and watch how they communicate. This will ease you in gently to the work, rather than being thrown in at the deep end and not knowing where to start. There are many communication courses that you can take at local colleges and even online. When completing your degree, your language skills will improve as you write essays. If public speaking or speaking in meetings is something you struggle with, here are a few ways you combat this anxiety to improve your overall communication skills.  

Successful Interior Designers Can Detect Non-Verbal Cues

Communication is key in interior design a lot of the time, but communication isn’t just written or verbal. A successful interior designer can detect non-verbal cues from clients or architects and are able to know when a client really isn’t happy with an idea. Sometimes, clients don’t speak up, so this means you need to be a mind reader. This may sound silly, but once you get out there into your role you will understand why this is so important. Understanding body language is a key skill that will enable you to advance in your interior design career. 

Some clients will come to you with exactly what they want, with lots of pictures, notes, and ideas. But this is what happens in an ideal world and, unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Some clients expect you to know what they want with just one short conversation. This is something that will come in time but getting to know your client very well will ensure that even with the pickiest of clients, you create a space they love. A successful interior designer will be a smart listener and sometimes a mind reader to make their client happy.

Staying Current and On Trend

Continued education is essential, and this includes keeping on top of current trends and staying current in the field of interior design. There are several ways to do so, including visiting trade shows and subscribing to interior design magazines. There are trade shows, either in the U.S. or worldwide. There are many interior design shows and exhibitions too; the more you can attend the better your network and knowledge will be, until you make your own name out there and find an interior design mentor who will allow you to be their understudy, teaching you and allowing you to share their connections.

Social media is your best friend in interior design and it a great way to advertise, connect with other professionals, and look at other people’s work for inspiration. Joining in Twitter conversations, using Pinterest to pin different design images, and setting up your very own website with a professional portfolio can aid you in expanding your network, knowledge, and client base. Reading current websites that specialize in interior design and inform designers of furniture design trends, such as Interiordesign.net and Cuddly Home Advisors, will further assist you in staying on trend. LinkedIn is another website that is fantastic for professionals to network and you should set up a profile as soon as you begin your education. This way you can contact companies to intern, or you may even be approached by companies.

Brand Yourself

Last but not least, you need to brand yourself to be a successful interior designer. This means marketing yourself, setting up your own website, and giving your brand a name and a logo. Whether you want to be a solo worker or work as part of a business, having your own brand ensures that people know who you are and come directly to you. If there is something that is unique in your interior design skills or you have found a niche that you enjoy, ensure that your brand shows this. Perhaps your interior design work tries to be eco-friendly, if this is so, let your clients know this is part of your brand or slogan. The more memorable your brand is, the better. If you are unsure of how to make your own logo and website, perhaps think about hiring a freelancer to help you. 

Look at other interior designers’ websites for inspiration and to make sure that you do not use the same name or similar logo to anybody else. This is something that may take a while to think of. Your brand is something that you need to be extremely happy with, as it is going to represent who you are as a person and your work. If you are completely stuck at this step, check out this great guide to choosing a brand name that is both relevant and memorable. 

Whether you are thinking of getting into interior design or you are an interior designer that is struggling to get their name out there, following these tips may help you break through the cracks and become successful in your career. Keep yourself relevant by following trends, always endeavor to improve your communication skills, understand body language, gain knowledge in a myriad of design fields, and brand yourself! Interior design is a busy and exciting role if you have a creative mind. Keep current and have fun! Clients will be more likely to hire you if you throw yourself into your work and you love what you do. 

Alec Neufeld is a retired builder, now freelance writer and part-time general fix it man. He has strong opinions on the use of alternate energy and is also an avid sports enthusiast.

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