Many people think of interior design as oriented to home design and remodeling. In fact, interior designers are involved in the design of space in office buildings, shopping malls, hospitals, hotels, airport terminals and nearly every other type of structure that has human traffic flowing through it.
While most designers focus on decorating, increasing numbers are getting involved with architectural details such as molding, and room detailing. Some are also tackling large building projects that have issues such as traffic flow, window location and lighting combinations. Here is a list of the skills that interior designers must acquire and the education options that will develop those skills.
- Interior designers are going to be working with architects as often as not. They must be able to read blueprints, be familiar with local fire codes and federal requirements such as the ADA ground rules that establish access for the disabled. They may also find themselves in negotiations with contractors, electricians and/or carpenters, seeking a compromise between construction practices and design requests.
- Once an interior designer has reached an agreement with the client, the design plan is reproduced in sketches and then on a computer in CAD format. Both the original design and the alterations or changes are recorded in the CAD program. A designer needs to be comfortable with CAD software and the types of presentation material it produces.
- Once the plan is completed, the designer orders the raw materials – which in this case are things like furniture, lighting, draperies, flooring and possibly art work. The next task is working with the contractor to get lighting fixtures installed properly, flooring laid and draperies hung. An interior designer has to be able to hold his or her own in a debate with a contractor or his crew.
- The educational options for an interior designer vary. There are two and three year programs offered by some institutions that result in an associate’s degree. There are also bachelor’s degrees in interior design offered by many schools. A graduate with an associate’s degree will probably spend time as an understudy in the business. Someone with a bachelor’s degree in interior design is considered sufficiently schooled to participate in a formal apprenticeship program with a designer or a design firm.
- After a one to three year apprenticeship, an interior designer may sit for a licensing exam. About half the states in the Union and the District of Columbia require licensure. Membership in a professional association is also recognized as a credible asset.