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29 June 2017Last updated
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Ask the expert: I want to pursue interior design

Interior design can be done independently as a fine arts degree

Sanjeev Verma
12 May 2017 | 10:55 am
  • Source:iStock

I am a grade 10 student and want to pursue a career in interior design. Do you have any advice?

Do you sometimes look at a room and think you could have made it look better? Perhaps rearranged some of the furniture or added a ‘little something extra’?

Interior design can lead to a successful career if you have a flair for making the best out of the space you have and have a good aesthetic sense.

But interior design is more than mere aesthetics, drawing sketches and thinking about material and fittings. You will need to calculate costs, prepare a budget, recommend people to carry out the work and supervise its progress.

Those in the field must possess creativity, technical proficiency, and business acumen to be truly successful. Luckily, a variety of interior design programmes exist and instil these skills at every level.

Design is a profession that requires excellent communication skills, both in communicating one’s ideas on paper and to other people. It is essential that the designer is capable of translating ideas onto paper through drawings and specifications, and that he or she is competent enough to instruct and manage builders and craftsmen.

Interior design can be done independently as a fine arts degree, though it is not uncommon for many people to study courses in the basics of architecture. Always remember to enrol in a programme that is accredited by the appropriate regulatory authorities in the country you wish to work in.

In high school it is recommended that you study English and maths, and if possible, physics. It is always beneficial to study maths as one of your grade 12 subjects. It provides a foundation that opens up a variety of courses for you, and won’t restrict you to a few niche options.

Having said that, most universities do not make it mandatory to have studied these subjects as they admit students who have broad academic backgrounds and a demonstrated interest in, commitment to, and aptitude for design.

To gain admission into the better design schools, you will need to show strong artistic and creative skills through the submission of a portfolio. This is the most important part of the selection process, so start preparing it now.
In addition to photos, include a selection of your designs and sketches, and don’t be afraid to present examples from a wide variety of projects. Additionally, many interior designers today maintain online versions of their portfolios that make it easy for potential clients and employers to reach out to them.

Obtaining relevant work experience while studying is of paramount importance. Try to gain experience in about three or four different companies.

The industry is very competitive, and clients are becoming more and more knowledgeable and demanding. Breaking into the industry and finding the ground to allow one to develop a respected reputation requires dedication, hard work and talent.

Due to low barriers of entry, getting industry placements and work experience is critical and the best way of doing this is through your university. Check for past alumni, internships, placements and more when deciding which university to study at.

The top design schools include the Pratt Institute, New York School of Interior Design, Florence Design Academy, Interior Design School, London, VCAD, Vancouver, UCLA and Interior Designers Institute in California.

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Sanjeev Verma

Sanjeev Verma

is a leading international education counsellor