While you do not need to go to design school to pursue a career in interior design, here are our tips for those who choose the formal or advanced degree path.
While you definitely do not need a certification to be a successful interior designer (some of my favorite self-taught designers are not certified), there are some benefits of getting an education in the field. Like many new designers, one considerable debate that we continually go back and forth on is the decision of whether or not you need to get your certification or master's degree in interior design.
Of course, there are pros and cons to both decisions, but luckily there is no wrong path. Besides the obvious of acquiring accreditation post-graduation, below are some tips I've gathered since enrolling in design school at UCLA's extension program earlier this year.
Top things to know about making the most out of interior design school:
Even if your classes are virtual, you can still connect with your classmates via Zoom or Canvas to meet like-minded individuals. Like any education, it is not cheap, and it is a big commitment, so your classmates are likely equally as serious about getting their certification as you are. It's also an excellent way to network and get to know other interior designers outside of the classroom. You never know — maybe you will get recruited for a job by putting yourself out there!
The technical classes take time to get used to and become comfortable with. Like any new skill, do not beat yourself up if you are not perfect on the first, second, third, or 20th try. This is natural, and most professional designers were likely not technically savvy with AutoCAD, SketchUp, Revit, or similar programs on the first go around. This applies to hand drafting too! It can quickly get overwhelming if you put too much pressure on yourself. Good things take time. Trust that your dedication to getting familiar and comfortable with new tools will eventually come, maybe even sooner than you think!
schoolworkYes, interior design is FUN. However, it is very intricate and requires more than just creating mood boards or picking out a sofa for a client. As mentioned above, the technical classes require a lot of your time, similar to learning a new language. Another thing to note is that the material covered in your other design classes is likely hardly mentioned (if at all!) in any of your undergraduate study classes. It is vital to space out your homework assignments to give yourself ample time to do your best work without overwhelming yourself or pulling all-nighters.
If you particularly like or are inspired by one of your professors or guest lecturers, I recommend reaching out to them after your course has finished. Most of the professors currently work or have worked in the design world and are very knowledgeable about the industry, hence why they are teaching! It does you a favor, but it also makes you stand out when you reach out to them to learn more about what they do or inquire about an internship or job opportunity. Again, networking is SO important in this career path. The more you can do to make yourself known when getting started will put you ahead of most others. If anything, it can only help you. You never know when someone could come back around in your favor.
As designers, we typically tend to lean towards one design style or blend a few that we like best. However, I have been exposed to worldly design styles over many centuries and from my own classmates' preferences during my classes. It is easy to get stuck into one style for all projects, but the fun challenge that I enjoy taking on is going outside of my comfort zone and designing spaces that I typically would not prefer. It challenges my creative eye by still curating a space that I am proud of but outside what I usually see myself in. I believe that it is crucial to see a design perspective outside of your own to become your best version of a designer. This way, you can stand out once you create a specific style or brand that someone can easily identify as your own. (Think Kelly Wearstler!)
Photo Credit: (Left) Design Milk
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