Even though I love interior design, I have to admit that I sometimes find the industry a bit... well, elitist, if I’m honest.
There is a certain snobbery about the brands you choose to specify, noses turn up if you recommend retail products and your own personal style is constantly under scrutiny.
Added to this the fact that Interior designers rarely share their pricing or their methods, and the whole industry feels shrouded in mystery, which makes it even more inaccessible to newcomers
In actual fact, whether you have a degree from the KLC, a diploma from the NDA or you have no qualifications at all has little impact on whether you’re a good interior designer or not.
Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not knocking interior design qualifications at all. I firmly believe that education is a positive thing, and I encourage all interior designers to get themselves qualified. Indeed I run UK qualifications in interior design myself.
But a qualification isn’t everything.
As an interior designer, you wear many hats. You are a designer, yes, but you’re also a marketer, a diplomat, a negotiator and a business person. In fact, the actual design work is one of the smaller parts of running your own business!
I see so many self-taught interior designers that feel inadequate because they don’t have the right letters (or any letters) after their name, and it makes me want to weep. Designers that have years of experience, designers that have a talent for empathising with customers and being able to translate that into a concept, designers who can manage complicated projects without skipping a beat, designers that just have a darn good eye for it.
Many interior designers I meet have a wonderful mix of skills, acquired from a lifetime of rich experiences in many different fields, all of which contribute to their design interpretations. They also often have a burning passion for design and a thirst to grow their business.
Would these designers’ skills be enhanced by an interior design qualification? Possibly! But does that mean they are not good enough?
Of course not!
An interior design qualification gives you a foundation, a background and understanding of processes and concepts.
But an interior design qualification doesn’t give you the skills to manage a tricky customer, it doesn’t show you what to do in a crisis, it doesn’t give you a network of trades and suppliers and it doesn’t give you creativity that you don’t already have.
In fact, some of the world's most talented interior designers don't have an interior design qualification to their name! Ever heard of Kelly Hoppen, Nina Campbell, or Vanessa Arbuthnott? All self taught. You're in good company!
So, this is a shout out to all self taught interior designers. Stop comparing yourself to others. Are people buying your services? Are customers happy with your work? Yes? Then that’s good enough. Your work is good enough.
You are good enough.
Hold your head up high and stop hiding your light.
In the words of... ahem... Mark Owen from Take That ... Let it shine!
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