It’s easy to stare dizzily at design sites and dream of the wonders you could create in your home, like a nosy neighbour peeping through their neighbour’s windows. But your daydreams are no good to anyone without concrete talent, an eye for detail and a great deal of hard work. You might be on the verge of a design breakthrough every day – you restructure your friend’s homes in your mind’s eye, merging every detail around some coffee table you saw online. Those sleek colours will match the overall aesthetic, you think to yourself, like a Kirstie Allsop tribute act. Yet thoughts mean nothing without application, so how can you fulfil your interior design dream?
Get an education
While your instincts for style can be useful, they won’t be half as good without a spot of tuition from design’s finest minds. With a BA interior design, the world of fabrics, furniture and spaces will be uncovered in solid details and in-depth courses. Moreover, a well-designed space needs to do more than look good – the ideal room should communicate with its user, moulding itself around people rather than remaining inert. Natural talent will only take you so far – with a degree under your arm, you’ll find clients will take you far more seriously.
Build a folio
Imagine if you showed up to a potential client’s house, claimed you were the Michelangelo of interior design but had no evidence to back it up. You might as well arrive claiming you’re Tom Cruise or a unicycle-riding ostrich. Without a great folio, those high-rolling clients will always remain out of reach. This does mean, no matter what your pedigree, you’ll have to start from the bottom. Offer to design friend’s houses for free, or do up your own, and use those shots to illustrate your keen eye.
Also, the perfect folio is concise. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” as Shakespeare said, so don’t pile in all your crud designs or mediocre spaces. A folio is your greatest hits, not a dodgy B-sides collection.
Keep ‘em happy
The large majority of interior designers are self-employed, and you know what that means – whether you like it or not, you’re the head of your own business. And being the boss means you can’t simply shrug off customers like they were irritating bluebottles. Keep them happy with great customer service, speedy replies to enquiries, good manners and a timetable that won’t eject them from their homes for aeons. The more customers you can keep happy (on all fronts), the more likely you’ll be to gain repeat clients, positive word of mouth and, in turn, an ever-expanding customer base.
Images from Belgrade Design Week 2013 exhibition by ArchiScene.