Interior design demands creativity. You don’t decide to be a successful painter, as in the art form, if you don’t have the inherent ability to draw and understand perspective. You can learn some aspects, but to excel in interior design, you must have a flair for creativity. You should possess strong creative and artistic skills to make the designs aesthetically pleasing for clients. You select a variety of colors, textiles, fabrics, and interior furnishings with the clients’ interests and tastes in mind. This talent probably manifested itself long before you thought about a degree in this field.

This profession is not to be confused with interior decorating. If all you want is to help clients select the appropriate paint colors, furniture, draperies, and other accessories, then interior decorating could be your calling. More importantly, interior decorating requires less education. An interior designer must obtain a license to practice, but an interior decorator isn’t required to do so. As a result, interior designers may decorate, but decorators are not permitted to design. These laws require designers to provide documentation of their formal education, including degrees and training certifications. Some even require practicing interior designers to earn an official National Council of Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) Certificate to demonstrate their expertise and qualifications in the industry.

Career Opportunities

Even before selecting a college, you may want to think about where you want to work. Here are samples of specialty areas:

CAD Technician

Good visual presentations are vital to the field of interior design, and so most design firms hire talented illustrators, either as part of the staff or on a freelance basis. For example, a company that fabricates and installs custom countertops employs CAD technicians to create drawings that include countertop dimensions, details of edge profiles, sinks, faucet holes, and more. A solid understand of drafting techniques, and familiarity with casework construction, interior design, or remodeling industry is preferred.

Closet and Storage System Design

People with limited space or have too much stuff require sophisticated systems for storing and organizing their belongings. Individuals, who have downsized, might need a more creative approach to designing closet space and storage areas. Others may have adequate space, but they are not using this space effectively. All of these situations require the talent of someone who knows how to add storage space and/or knows how to best utilize the available space.

Some interior designers create custom closets fabricated out of exotic woods. These closets could have unique fittings and details such as hidden safes, packing counters, shoe racks, built-in benches, telescopic clothing rods, and other amenities.

Another industry in this arena involves the design of products to maximize space. For example, furniture designed to function as both a wardrobe and a desk. Or a set of shelves using a minimal amount of materials that you can easily fold, put away, and move.

Commercial Office Design

There are firms devoted to creating workplace environments that inspire collaboration and employee health to commercial office buildings geared toward attracting exceptional tenants. These designers have to coordinate with contractors, and vendors, and therefore understand building and fire codes. The designer must have an understanding of the client’s business strategy. This means knowing the types of meetings, presentations, and collaborations that must happen on a regular basis. The corporate culture may also be a factor influencing the design work. A Silicon Valley technology company may reflect a different ambiance through its decor than a company whose roots are in Germany or Great Britain, for example.

Kitchen Design

The residential kitchen has become an active, social environment with amenities such as comfortable seating, entertainment centers, computer work areas and a wide range of appliances and equipment including warming drawers, built-in woks and barbeques, integrated food steamers, inline water filtration and convection ovens. For these reasons, many interior designers choose to become specialists in residential kitchen design. Furthermore, at the commercial level, interior designers work for full-service design/remodeling companies that specialize in kitchen remodeling projects. Most of the job postings in this field require AutoCAD, or other design planning software skills.

Architecture Firms

Architecture firms may also offer design work as part of their services to clients. Generally, there are firms that offer their services to either commercial or residential clients. On the commercial side, you would be working with Project Designers, Principals and other senior level staff in design, production, and detailing of commercial interior projects. These include tenant improvement, corporate office, medical, retail, and industrial space.

Firms specializing in residential interior design/architecture hire designers to be involved in kitchen, bathroom, dressing room, bar, library or other cabinetry/paneling furnished projects. The Designer will be involved in all aspects of preparing comprehensive architectural construction drawings and specifications and coordinate the documents with project consultants, contractors, and clients.

Whether it is residential or commercial design work, the job requires a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design or Architecture.

The List Goes On

Consider these jobs as appetizers to a much larger menu of potential occupations related to interior design. Please check this Design Institute for a greater offering of the many job prospects available in this field.

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