Wednesday, August 19, 2009

i recommend our viewers read something else

The lovely lady from English-Rose-Darlingg left me a comment yesterday asking about being an interior designer - how did I get here, what do I do everyday etc. I started writing her back and realized it could make for an interesting post. Interesting if you're interested in being an interior designer. Otherwise you may want to stop reading now because it will be loooong and probably turn into a rant of some sort about my angst against decorators (Will Ferrell shout out coming: once again I'm going to recommend our viewers watch something else. That being said...)
How I got here:

When I was young I had a thing for floorplans. I remember asking for graph paper and architectural stencils for Christmas. I loved to draw these elaborate plans of homes and buildings - it was like a puzzle, placing each room and thinking about the windows, doors and furniture. I also loved to think about the colors in these imaginary spaces. Thank god for my patient parents because my other obsession was my bedroom. I rearranged my furniture, covered my walls, uncovered them, covered my furniture, rearranged my furniture, put up art, took it down, rearranged the furniture. I told everyone that I was going to be an architect when I grew up.
In high school I decided to take a drafting course, it was me and 13 guys (preview to my typical meetings) and I hated drafting. You will see the irony in this in a few paragraphs. Bless my drafting teacher's heart, he basically taught me that architecture was the least creative thing I could ever do (its not.) I abandoned my childhood direction and entered college as a graphic design major.
Somewhere in my freshman year I met an interior design student and began to realize that there was this magical career where people laid out rooms like puzzles and studied color and loved art. I changed majors that summer. I spent four years finishing my degree (standard for accredited schools.) For those considering it, know that it is a time consuming major. I was occasionally jealous of my roommates and their seemingly endless amounts of freetime while I spent late nights in the studio building models and drafting - but I loved it.
My program was almost completely focused on commercial interior design - in four years we did one residential project. Which brings me to a quick sidenote. There is a big - huge - difference between commercial interior design and residential interior design. And there is an even bigger difference between interior designers and interior decorators. I do not do living rooms. I do not want to help you with yours. I do not do trinkets. I think basically every 'interior design' show on HGTV/TLC/Bravo etc is kind of bologna. My college counselor used to tell incoming students that if you like the show 'Trading Spaces' this major is not for you. This doesn't mean I don't appreciate awesome residential design though!
What I do:

I won't say exactly what I do because well ...because. I work on large public spaces. I spend an enormous amount of time drafting on the computer (see that irony?) I also work on finishes - selecting carpet, counters etc. I learn about fire codes and handicap codes and safety codes. I think there is a large disconnect between what tv tells us interior designers are and what reality is. You never see the characters on 'Design Star' stressing about turnaround radius in the bathroom do you?
So English-Rose-Darlingg I hope I have not totally crushed your dreams - I'm just being honest about my experience in my path of interior design. You should find a residential interior designer and talk to them as well to see another side of things. I definitely recommend you call up local interior design and architecture firms (both residential and commercial) and ask if you could come tour their office and sit with a designer for a few hours. We have students do that all the time and its a great way to really see what the career is like and how many different options are out there.
I like what I do. The end.

The top image is the title of an article about Florence Knoll. The rest of the images are lovingly borrowed from the internet...


Ady said...

Hahahahaha! I worked as a commercial interior designer back in Michigan (before I moved to KC) and I totally get what you are saying. I don't know how many times I had to explain to people that I was just meeting that I was not a "decorator" and that I had no interest in helping them get their living rooms to look like it came out of a magazine. Also, people tended to look at me like I had a frivolous job where I just looked at pretty things and matched colors all day... grrr...

english-rose-darlingg said...


This actually opened my eyes so much more!
I think I will have to check out and maybe go for work experience at different places, Im at that stage where Im confused about what I want to be etc, but your job sounds really interesting.

I too always change my room around and swap pieces of furniture! :)

Thank you so much- that was really sweet of you to dedicate a post to me :D


Rhianne said...

"I do not do living rooms. I do not want to help you with yours."

I'm sending this to my Mum so she can stop telling her friends that I might help them when they move house... grrrr!!

I miss my old interior design job - we used to do offices and I loved it. Shame there are no interior design jobs in Leeds at the moment, sob!

Anonymous said...

I did one semester of Interior Decoration and then decided it wasn't for me - this was a good read!

Amber said...

I also spent hours as a child drafting houses on graph paper. I also changed my room around and redecorated, created cubbies and styled the rooms, however when I took up drafting at school, I was HOPELESS! My paper was always filthy, my pencil lines always smudged and that was it. Im glad you found your calling though!

drollgirl said...

very interesting! and the best part is that you love your job!

i took an architectural drawing class in junior high. i pretty much sucked at it. i quickly figured out that i was better at CHOOSING what i liked in architecture, rather than dreaming it up and getting it all on paper. plus, the teacher pretty much told us that becoming an architect was a bad idea. years and years of apprentice work, and not much money for most.

Courtney said...

Does the mafia have to approve of me if you come to Houston and we get together? What sort of test might I have to pass? :)

one little simitopian said...

It's so cool that you're doing a job that you LOVE! It gives life more meaning ,I think, when you enjoy what you're doing :)
haha, wow, I used to draw floorplans and imaginary buildings when I was little too! Hmmm...maybe I chose the wrong path?!