Career Choice

What does it take to be an INTERIOR DESIGNER?

By Angela deFreitas

Have you ever walked into a room, an office or a building and immediately felt comfortable; that the flow was right, the blend of natural and artificial lighting was just right and the space was well-thought-out and utilised? 
Well, the thoughtful and skilled person behind all of this, before doors were even opened to the public or a family moved in, was the interior designer – no, not decorator, but designer. Working closely with architects and builders, an interior designer has a full understanding of how the client will use the spaces created, ensures that their expectations are fulfilled and also ensures that interior spaces are safe and free of hazards. They can sometimes also do the work of interior decorating. 

At some time during the work day an interior designer might:

  • Have consultations with architects, builders and clients to discuss their ideas, budgets and timelines for creating office, commercial, residential or any other types of spaces 
  • Outline their concepts for fixtures, equipment etc.
  • Create designs of their visions using computer aided design programmes or by doing hand renderings
  • Work closely with architects, builders, skilled persons and clients to complete the interior space as agreed

Most designers are employed in the construction industry and in modern work environments will be expected to use computer software in their design processes as hand renderings are less used these days. 

Works schedules will have to take client’s time into consideration which might mean working after hours or on weekends. Work will be on new projects or refurbishing projects for corporate spaces, restaurants, courthouses, fitness centres,  libraries or many others. Designers should be as comfortable wearing a hard hat and boots on a project site as around a meeting table in a boardroom.  Remember, this is not a desk job! 
A good interior designer needs to have strong creative, imaginative, communication and visualisation skills but that is not all. They must also have a knowledge of the practical skills which will go into their work as they will work, not only with the architects and engineers but also with the plumbers, electricians, painters, carpenters, tilers, wall and floor finishers etc.  It’s clear also that good teamworking skills are essential.

This will depend on the size of the company for which you work and this could range from medium to medium high depending on your skill level.  Designers can command a higher salary than decorators.

At the secondary level get a good foundation.  As with interior decorating, business subjects, art and design and textiles would be great options.  Keep up-to-date with trends in the business, do lots of research and reading in order to refresh and improve your ideas. 

You can speak to the Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts and also the Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies at UTECH about their modules and short programmes. Be prepared to formalize training and education outside of Jamaica if you want a full degree programme and/or advanced degrees.

Angela deFreitas is General Manager of CHOICES Career & Education Advice – 
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