What does a successful interior designer look like?

February 4, 2014

One of the questions I hear most from students is ‘how to you become a successful interior designer?’

This is one hell of a difficult question to answer and to be honest there’s no one answer that completely addresses the question. Often the ‘best’ or most successful designers are not necessarily the people who are able to skillfully use CAD software, nor are they always the most creative they are often just the best listeners.

1)      Remember your client

When we get a new project to work on, it’s very easy to get swept up in creating an amazing design using a variety of colours, textures and finishes that we love, but we need to remember that our client is not paying us to create something that we love. They’re paying us to create something that they love. If your client doesn’t love your design and can’t visualise it working for them, then we’ve missed the mark.

As people, we have a tendency to like to talk about ourselves, and what we like and dislike to get our point across and feel heard – your client feels the same way. As designers it’s important for us to ask questions and listen so that we can determine what it is that our client wants and/or needs. Your client wants to feel that they have been heard, and that we have taken their feelings and concerns into the development of our design concepts. A client who feels as though their voice has been left out of the design process is more than likely going to pass on your design.

2)      Welcome the word ‘no’

None of us like hearing the word ‘no’, especially when we’re passionately wanting to hear the word ‘yes’. As Interior Designers, our clients and employers may not always agree with every suggestion that we make, and that’s ok. Don’t become defensive and take it as a personal attack on your talent or abilities (remember it’s not about you), but try to see it as an opportunity to negotiate and refine your design, and develop something different and maybe even better.

3)      Stay Creative

The way I approach any project is to find a source of inspiration, and I never find inspiration from looking at other interior projects or designs or even furniture or accessories. I find it in artworks or nature and then translate elements or aspects into my design. Of course every designer is different, but it’s so important for us to exercise/practise our creativity so that we can stay ahead of the game and begin to view things differently. That’s what people pay us for. If we see everything the same way that everyone else does then why would anyone pay for a designer?

There are a lot of different creative thinking activities and exercises that we can use. Something that I love is the book ‘Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain’ by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield.

There’s a lot more to being an Interior Designer than meets the eye and there’s not one hard and fast way to succeed at it. It’s important to love what you do and have a natural talent for it, but the rest is really just hard work 🙂


One Response to “What does a successful interior designer look like?”

  1. Couldn’t agree more! Great positive suggestions, thank you!

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