Today we spent a few hours talking about passion, creativity, interior and how to be successful in the interior sphere with Brigita Lengenfeld, an interior designer from Lithuania, that most of her time now she spend in Spain.
“Before you decide to integrate yourself in the interior world and leave your previous life behind, you should know a bit more about the challenges and requirements you need to have, to start a career in interior design. First what you need, is to know more about the industry you are aiming; Secondly find an institute, at least to inquire professors regarding studies and the interior culture.”
Together with Brigita we have come up with 8 lessons and things to help you know more about the beautiful industry of interior design.
1. There are interior decorators and interior designers. What’s the difference?
In our discussion, Brigita mentions that there are two main differences between interior designers and interior decorators. To become an interior decorator, you need a lot of passion and understanding on what you are doing, as a start you need to know how to combine colours and decorate the environment, so that there are no mismatches. To become an interior designer you need to complete interior designer studies. Brigita herself has mentioned to us, that she has finished studies in Latvia, Riga‘s university, she also said that there are so many institutes where you can get a degree in interior design, that the only issue you face, is choosing the right one for you.
2. There’s work and then there’s passion.
It might seem obvious, but in order to make money from interior design, one must have knowledge of architecture and an innate taste for: colours, spatial arrangement and fabric textures. Simply receiving praise for the taste of your home design, does not mean you will be able to become a successful interior designer, thought it might lead you to it in the end.
“The first step to a successful career is finding your spark, one does not feel like he’s working while doing their favorite thing”
3. There’s more to design, than just colours.
Combining materials, furniture and colours is very important when designing home décor, but that’s not the only designer’s responsibility, there are a lot of other things designers need to do – some of which are quite complex and require a great deal of skill and effort. Interior designers must be aware of the structural integrity of the building, special concepts, knowledge of design history, ergonomics, ethics, psychology, ability to use an automated CAD design program and so on. There are many tools to help you in decorating your projects and be great in what you are doing.
For example: just a few years ago, to work with window treatments, you had to know how to calculate fabrics, their sewing and a variety of other complex details on how to make curtains. Now, there exists an app for almost everything, and Curtains Calculator is a web app for just such a thing, this app allows you to transform your 3-5h curtain calculation times into 5 minutes while your customer is enjoying his coffee.
4. Money can’t buy happiness, but money is integral to having a happy life.
A designer’s salary depends on a lot of things. Statistically a budding designer in Europe earns an average of 26,630 Euros per year. Of course, it depends on many factors, such as their education or previous work experience, where they work and for who they work. A designer working for a furniture company on average earns less than a designer hired by an architecture company. If you have the skills to work with different types of fabrics, like curtains. You can get more customers and that in turn increases your salary.
“basically, the more experience you gain and the more visible you are, the higher your rates become. Working with curtains was the most difficult thing for me (as she laughs). I spent more than two years in a curtain salon, but I am still making mistakes in my calculations and calculating curtain orders by hand, with the help of a basic calculator is just terrifying for me”
Tools such as Curtains Calculator, help window decorators be better in more positions and this doesn’t change for businesses, such as – curtain and blind stores. This way you can let your best designers and students express their creativity and work with your clients without any restraints from pesky calculations or 6-month long trainings.
5. Understanding your customer.
Almost all interior designers have a scary story about a former client, some even have multiple. Most customers tend to be prejudiced, especially when setting up their homes. Some clients come prepared with a clear vision in their head, but some don’t – they come in thinking they know what they want, but when they finally see the end-product, they become dissatisfied with your work. A successful designer is the one that can steer their client towards the right result, allowing their client to feel as if they have complete control of the situation and they are the ones who make all the decisions. Interior designers need to strike a balance between the right solution and the customer’s wishes every day.
6. Your digital fashion show.
A single image can say a thousand words – especially an interior designer’s work folder. You can post about colour matching, materials and textures all day long, but unless you have an illustrated folder showing your previous projects, you can hardly expect great success. Create your to-do folder. How do you make one you ask? If you have just graduated and a fresh to the market, you will initially have to offer your services, either for free or for a small price. This will not only create a to-do folder, but will allow you, to get to know your local manufacturers and suppliers, it will also help you build relationships for future projects.
7. You need to be ahead of the game.
The interior design market has quite a high competition, being noticed – is key to growing big in this field. With the help of a carefully crafted portfolio, you have better chances of being noticed and attracting customers. Another key to success in this area, is diversified education. The more you know, the more successful you will be, this is true for almost everything. Think about future trends – growing populations, design for the elderly, modern architecture and green design. Education in these topical areas will certainly give you an edge in the market. It is also advisable to keep up with the latest design trends – read publications, communicate with fellow designers, consult with a supervisor. It takes hard work to be noticed and to emerge in a highly competitive environment.
8. help your customers, but don’t make choices for them
The designer can offer the client a full range of design styles, but ultimately it is up to the client to choose the ones that suit them best. Both novice interior designers and old design wolves should not forget, that despite the good taste of the designer, the variant he offers is no better than the client. If the client is struggling or is indecisive, the designer can offer and steer the client towards the choice they believe is right, but a designer must never make a choice for a customer. It is possible to work for many years as an interior designer, and never to create an interior that fully matches your personal taste, as the customer’s taste is more important than the designer.