Sometimes I question how I ever ended up being an Interior Designer, it hasn’t happened by accident, it has taken a lot of hard work and dedication! But it is a question that comes up when I am teaching.
I like to think that I have always been interested in Architecture, from drawing houses and planning a series of house types, aged 9, to knowing at 14 that 3D spaces interested me and looking at Elle Deco and taking ideas and making my own version of the magazine.
I did however doubt my ability to get to University and certainly whilst doing A-levels, back in the day when teachers discouraged you from University if you weren’t academic. I was always a mid-range pupil, only excelling in Art and just scraping through all my other subjects! I did think about Fine Art, but my portfolio didn’t reflect my strengths in painting. I did however show that I had a love of interior spaces.
But while many students are waiting on A-Level results, it seems appropriate to say that I got my place at University through clearing and I managed to get on the BA (Hons) Architecture course without fully understanding that if I wanted to be an Architect it would take at least 7 years!!
So I started in 1995 at University to then decide after a stressful first year at a London institution that I was useless at designing exteriors of buildings and that I should have followed my first love so I swapped to Interior Design.
Well after working incredibly hard I achieved a 2:2 in Interior Design in 1999 and working , I then had to find my first job!
It was at a time when interior jobs weren’t readily available, but I spent all my time sending CV’s off in the post (no access to email then) and getting rejection letter after rejection letter! I would have taken anything to work in the industry and did manage to get my first job in an Architectural practice, doing admin!! The joy of dead-filing was far from my ambition of being a high-flying Interior Designer. But in retrospect it fuelled the fire to become more determined to become successful and to do what I loved!! So when I finally left after only managing 8 months in the role, I knew my way round the administrative side of a build project, which has been extremely invaluable.
By my second role, I felt much more equipped to push my way forward and ask to be involved in designing the interiors whilst in an Architecture practice. Working with people who inspire you and encourage you to be a better designer is important for your career.
Throughout the years I have met mentors, bastards, ruthless clients and great ones, brillant architects, fantastic visionaries, useless designers, mean business types and supportive colleagues. With each encounter and each relationship, I may have learnt a little or may have learnt a lot. But most importantly I have never lost my ambition and determination.
I may not have been the academic type but it hasn’t stopped me from working on a vast range of projects from residential to public and commericial. I am a true believer in chasing your dreams and not to let the bastards grind you down. If someone say’s you can’t do it, prove them wrong (I’d love to list all those who said I couldn’t).
I love what I do, I get to take my ideas put them to paper, work with great clients, make their space(s) become a reality and see them inhabit that space. I may have made it sound easy but it does take a lot of hard work and it is stressful. So if you are thinking about becoming an Interior Designer or an Interior Architect be prepared to work hard. But if you love what you do it does make the hard work less of a chore.
I’m still here 15 years on and the industry is proving to be on the up. Jobs in interior design are on the increase and Interior Designers are now proving to be a valued members of the design team.
10 years of having my own company is achievement in itself but also having the opportunity to teach my discipline is an even greater achievement as I get to see others do what they love.
If you are thinking of becoming an Interior designer or Interior Architect but think you are not academic enough, just remember grades alone wouldn’t get you there without ambition! Believe in you!