Hello, today’s blog post is about
Why I decided to work at an interior design studio as opposed to study an interior design diploma.
How did I get here in the first place?
Let’s not beat around the bush. This is a very contemporary issue. I realised I was very unhappy in my work situation and wanted a change.
I asked myself if every day you aren’t having any fun, what is the point? Moreover, after 7 years of working good jobs and renting in London, I asked myself. Was it really worth it, where did I see myself in the future etc. Yes, you could call it an early mid-life crisis if you will. I worked really hard at it but felt frustrated over it. Like the train already left the station but I kept running behind it.
What happened next
My energy was drained. Something had to change.
A couple of months before that sudden change, we bought our first property. I thought about using this blank canvas to start this blog.
Then while I was learning to blog, I questioned myself about what makes me happy and what I am good at. And, designing 3D spaces, calm interiors, delivering projects, helping companies with my Marketing & Tech skills make me happy. And above all, the idea of setting my own rules and be financially independent is important for me.
So I learned “by-doing” new skills, from scratch, to earn my new career. I focus on space planning, CAD Software SketchUp, sample mood boards, Digital Marketing, create a project planning schedule. Eventually, I figured, if I wanted people to hire me for Interior Styling and Design; I would need “traditional” experience either a diploma or work experience at an architect or interior design studio/practice.
The option of studying full-time again
Considering the reality of going back to school when you are in your early thirties is brutal.
Being financially independent at 23y old also meant that sitting in a classroom for 8 hours a day for a year or two wasn’t going to be an option solely for my mental health. What time would have I had to work as a freelancer and bring money to pay the bills?
Not to mention that the cost of studies is crippling. Depending on what you want to study. But after buying our London fixer-upper with my partner I had no spare cash to pay for a shiny degree.
With a masters degree in project management from a reputable Parisian University, I knew I could handle that side of interior design projects. What I was missing I think was space planning and creative skills about hard and soft furnishing.
Analysing the Academic Options
I must admit after googling for Interior Design certificates, diploma, courses, I was surprised by the huge number of options. Sure, I understand it is popular.
It sounds like a glamorous job, but after doing my own house renovation, I knew most of it wasn’t pretty at all.
Besides an Adobe Indesign BTEC evening course and PRINCE2 Found. & Practitioner Project Management, I didn’t study in the UK’s educational system. I had to understand the difference between High Degree Diploma, Certificate, Bachelor, Bachelor (Hons), undergraduate, Level 3, 4, 5 on the RQF, classroom, distance learning etc. And they all seem to be in the area of £1000-£15000+.
I concluded that studying wasn’t going to be an option at least not for now.
Work vs Studying
Later, I met with someone who had a career change in his late twenties. From being a school teacher to working as a graphic designer at a reputable communication agency. Doing an internship helped to get first experiences that later got him a full-time job in his newfound career. It opened my mind to consider going that route.
Finding the Right Interior Design Studio
Considering doing the same approach, I started looking at practices looking for interns or graduates. I was happy to do it just for a few months. I wanted to actually see if the role of a professional Interior Designer was really for me!
I emailed a few with my CV and what I could do and to my surprised quickly found a great interior design studio specialised in High-end Residential Design & Build Projects that would take me on board! My role was to shadow the Senior Interior Designer and at the same time, I would provide support for various Marketing activities and blogging content which I was happy to do (check my work with me page for the links).
What do Interior Designer think ?
One of the first questions I asked at the start of my work placement was what education/degree would they recommend? And to my surprise, they said what matters most is your portfolio and what you can do rather than which degree you did. I was told that the previous interior designer formally trained at UAL said that you can learn better on the job “by-doing”. And that what she took from the school were contacts, relationships and a good networking environment. Interesting I thought!
This experience gave me confidence in my interior decorator skills. It was actually for the first time I was told I had a good eye for design (outside of social media, my immediate friends and a couple of clients, thanks guys!). HOW COOL
As a conclusion, I would recommend any 30 something at a career cross-road to consider doing aa work placement first vs spending years on the educational route. Interior Design as I learned is a self-regulated market and many successful Interior Designers actually do not have a formal qualification.
Finally, I will write more about this experience which has definitely been eye-opening regarding a possible career in Interior Design so stay tuned!