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The World of Interior Design


What is Interior Design?  That is the question! Lucky for you, I have prepared a little article on the ART that one sees and feels everyday but may not acknowledge or understand. Interior Design involves more than just drawing a straight line and fumbling a couple of cushions. Essentially it is about planning the architectural interior of residential or commercial structures, from little houses on the prairie to enormous shopping centers such as Westfield.

Confidence, charisma, passion and innovation are needed to succeed in the design world.  When people hear 'Interior Design', they automatically think “ahhh Changing Rooms.”  Wrong answer!  There are many areas of design, what’s seen on Changing Rooms is solely Interior Decorating.  It’s not considered better or worse, just different!    
Interior designers initially conceptualize a design. It is then planned to meet complex engineering and structural criteria whilst also considering the appropriate materials, forms and dimensions to convert the concept into a real life structure.     

Design can be interpreted in many ways. For me, I see it as a significant part of our world. Entering a newly designed room or observing a captivating building evokes human emotion, be it stimulating, blissful or even bewildering. However, being a designer goes a step further than that, it is about trying to create a reaction. The work is driven by interpretation which always makes it remarkably interesting. The next time you’re walking past a building that catches your eye, even for a split moment, take a closer look at it. Observe the detail; think about the inspiration behind it, the rawness of the material and the presence it creates in its surroundings. Everybody's thoughts and reactions vary, that is the beauty of human interpretation.  

The profession can be very rewarding and uplifting but getting there doesn’t happen overnight. I took a gap year after studying Art and Design at sixth form. I wasn’t sure of the field of design I wanted to specialise in; graphics, interiors, architecture, etc. so I enrolled myself in a few short design courses to familiarise myself with the various forms. I also travelled widely, spending time in Egypt, Italy, Cuba and Hong Kong, where I was astonished by the feel and elegance of some of the structures. After these visits I realised that I wanted to get involved in both internal and external design.
In this industry a BTEC HND or diploma is accepted however a degree is desirable. I enrolled in a 3 year degree in 'Interior and Spatial Design' at Chelsea College of Art and Design. The tricky part is trying to get your foot into the industry whilst being fresh out of university. If you have no luck finding a permanent position, it is best to apply for a work placement. Use this opportunity to showoff your ability, work hard and publicise your talent. It is all about selling yourself in this business, believing and portraying that you will be an asset to a company.

After my gap year I joined a Retail Design agency 'Rawls and Company' for a three month placement as a Junior Interior Designer. This was my starting point. I was offered a permanent position and now aspire to reach a senior position. One can remain a senior designer, become a creative director, manager or even form their own company to progress up the career ladder.  As with any job, there are negative aspects to the design industry. Being passionate about an idea, visualising it then putting it forward to a client and then getting shut down is typical and can be disheartening to some. You have to take rejection very lightly and continue to persevere. Determination, remaining optimistic and strong, will help you survive in this dog eat dog world. Competition is rife, but do not fear it; relish in it and never give up! 

Although designing is about creativity and aesthetics, your ideas also need to be feasible and cost effective. Your design should meet a client's brief within their budget. You need to be able to evaluate potential durable materials, think of the construction, calculate costs, and consider planning and building regulations – not forgetting risk assessments.  Having the ability to sell your idea is also vital and a sound business mind is crucial to succeed.  The design company I worked for provided particular expertise for UK and International retail businesses ranging from Interior Retail Design, Retail Design Management and Architecture, to Graphics and Brand Management. Clientele included Land Securities, Tesco, Hammerson and Pravins Jewelers to name but a few.
One of the most exhilarating projects I worked on was revitalizing the street elevations of Broadmead and the £500 million design of Cabot Circus in Bristol. This architectural masterpiece is partly sheltered by an exclusive shell-shaped glass roof; the only one of its kind in Europe. Work for this project involved rendered conceptual sketches, project coordination, client, supplier, contractor and architect liaison, material specification, site visits and producing technical drawings for planning submission.   

If you want to succeed in this industry you need to establish why you want to design. For me the essence of design is capturing an idea and turning it into a beautiful environment for people to live and work in. After all, we live in an extremely chaotic world. If we can create a form of beauty through design, we shouldn’t hold back!    

Currently I’m focusing on retail design, but who knows; maybe soon I’ll divert my attention to the residential side. One thing is for certain, I’ll always be drawn to the world of design, it’s where my innate passion and enthusiasm lies. Watch this space…..
"Design, in its broadest sense, is the enabler of the digital era - it's a process that creates order out of chaos, that renders technology usable to business. Design means being good, not just looking good."  Clement Mok

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