What does an Interior Design portfolio typically include?

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What is an Interior Design portfolio?

Whether you are starting a business or an experienced designer, a portfolio is a physical representation of your work for prospective clients to see. It acts as a sales brochure to show off your creative talents as a professional interior designer. Therefore, a dynamic portfolio is crucial to the profession.

Most people have heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words. Over the centuries, many have received credit for the phrase or its paraphrase. Journalist Fred R. Barnard in 1921, stated: One picture worth ten thousand words. There is a Chinese expression: Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once. Henrik Ibsen (Norwegian playwright 19th century), Confucius, Ivan Turgenev (Russian writer in 1861), and Napolean Bonaparte have supposedly made similar statements.

Regardless of the source, a portfolio is worth a thousand words. A dazzling display on paper or digitally is much better than a lengthy and possibly futile attempt to explain your work to a client or employer. Scientific studies prove that the brain processes color and brightness first. Contours, movement, and orientation follow. Researchers at MIT found that humans can interpret images viewed for as few as 13-14 milliseconds.

A 1998 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America (PNAS) concluded that pictures have more bilateral visual and medial temporal cortices’ activity than encoding for words. In less medical terms – humans can remember over 2,000 images with 90% accuracy.

The above research confirms the necessity for a visual representation of interior design examples for the most significant impact.

When to start?

Students can start a portfolio while enrolled in a college or university undergraduate program. Maryville University near St. Louis offers a bachelor’s degree that holds the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). The coursework covers architectural principles, color, lighting, and computer-aided design, as well as a senior capstone project. Your knowledge of 3D printers and technology affords the means to create a portfolio displayed at the Interior Design Senior Show. One innovative student used virtual reality (VR) for the first time in a capstone project. The design consisted of reworking a historic luxury apartment building into a revamped space with modern materials and décor.

Individuals new to the business want the portfolio to include their school credentials, certifications, recognitions, capstone project, sketches, internships, brief personal description, and small work examples for friends or family. Before and after photos work well. Quality is more important and quantity of projects and designs.

Choosing a school whose curriculum incorporates portfolio preparation and creation is beneficial. You learn from professionals in the business how and what to include in one. The Bachelor of Science in Interior Design at Liberty University consists of a Portfolio Review at the end of the Sophomore year. Courses in 2D and 3D design, digital drafting, materials, and specifications supply the creative and technical skills to build an impressive portfolio.

With the trend towards digital formats, programs that emphasize state-of-the-art technology will provide the skills to prepare a computerized portfolio. With campuses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Pratt Institute has a Revit Architecture class used at the professional level. Revit is a 3D software used in architecture, engineering, and construction.

Your interior design selection may influence the ease with which you can put together a portfolio. Some programs have local field trips to view, inspect, and analyze historic buildings. From this, you visualize how to renovate the interior in 3D rendering or as the Maryville student did in VR. This classwork becomes the genesis of your portfolio when seeking employment.

Experienced designers advise including a photo with your brief resume using correct grammar and punctuation. Include all your technical skills, like AutoCAD (computer-aided design), VR, 2D and 3D, drafting, and more. You can add design plans, electrical plans, hand drawings, and elevations. However, the focus should be on visuals: 3D views, sketches, and photos. You want to sell creativity, not technical skills, which are secondary.

As a recent graduate, you can create an imaginary design project in your portfolio. One possibility is to model it after an existing building or space where you have access. Some cities are refurbishing warehouses and old office buildings into lofts. If so, in your area, visit one of these and start redesigning the interior using your creative talents and knowledge.

Remember that a portfolio’s purpose is a visual sales technique. To paraphrase one expert in the profession:

An unskilled interior designer with impressive sales skills will be more successful than a skilled designer with poor sales skills.

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