Color Specialist: Has a strong understanding of how colors interact and work with one another. In college, they will study the psychology of color (among other related coursework), and usually, work in residential and commercial settings to create the perfect color patterns in the various spaces.
Design theory attempts to attach a reason to why some designs work and others don’t. Certain colors, shapes, lines, and textures evoke different feelings. Other principles of design such as balance, symmetry, contrast, and repetition make a space desirable or undesirable, depending on how they’re used.
The Baroque period emerged in 17th century Italy and continued to expand north. The term means “irregular,” and was initially a product of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Massive, bold, rich velvet lambrequin, marquetry furniture, and crests characterized the style. Symmetry and precision in intricate depictions of “putti” or young boys and foliage are characteristic of the period. As it spread, it was increasingly transformed by secular influences. Powerful monarchies utilized the approach to demonstrate power, pageantry, and strength. The opulent and robust architecture and interior design notably and profoundly affected European countries and cultures.
Lighting Design: Some argue that this is not a specialty of interior design. Even so, you may choose to become a lighting designer, which is attainable with a degree in interior design. Lighting has a substantial impact on how we perceive a space and how we feel in it; lighting designers focus on the effect lighting has on all aspects of our lives. Lighting designers work on stage productions, in the theater, in galleries, and other places where lighting is a focal point.
Formal concepts are the terms and ideas that shape your design. These include color, shape, line, texture, scale, proportion, and other concepts. Having knowledge of these terms helps you figure out how to design an interior space.
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In the mid-18th century, the cities of Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, and Genoa rejected Baroque design elements in favor of what would be known as Italian Neoclassical interior design. Based initially on Greek, Roman and Renaissance architecture – Great Britain and France would become leaders in the development of Neoclassical Art. Examples of the period can be seen in furniture that resembles the Louis XVI style and exaggerates recessed furniture backs and necks, as well as geometrically shaped Venetian armoires. Italian designers adopted the French-styled secretaire and encoignure cabinet by incorporating intricate signature designs. Gold, precious stones, exotic ornamentation, and jewels served to make the French Louis XVI armchair a uniquely Italian creation.
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Business Advantages: Clients seeking to hire an interior designer are looking for specific solutions to their design needs. If your portfolio shows a little bit of everything, then the client may be hesitant to hire you. However, if your portfolio highlights a particular style or subject matter, it is far more convincing, and your customers will be far more confident in your ability to deliver excellent results. If your customers ask questions, you are more likely to answer them confidently and provide actionable solutions which only increases their confidence level in your ability to provide value!
Living Spaces Designers: Responsible for developing all aspects of living spaces; from choosing paint for the walls, carpet, floorings, light fixtures and picking out furniture. They may work in a residential or corporate environment and be versed in different styles such as traditional or modern. They understand how to maximize the space based on the customer goals.
When you think of the term “interior design,” it is unlikely that you would associate with a mud hut. The roots of interior design have been scholastically attributed to clay-like structures built by the Ancient Egyptians, otherwise known as mud huts.
Technical skills, design prowess, and business knowledge aren’t learned all at once and continuing education can keep a designer’s competencies and skills up-to-date. You can also participate in life-long learning through the Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC), or receive training for established interior designers through a variety of nonprofit organizations. This training and business support is especially helpful for self-employed and freelance designers looking to better market their skills.
Commercial Interior Design: Popular amongst larger corporations and some smaller businesses looking to maximize their spaces. Similar to residential design, individuals choose to learn many types of commercial spaces and make one or two their specialty. For example, healthcare design specializing in this area, imagine the interiors of hospitals, clinics, treatment facilities, nursing homes and other healthcare-related spaces. In hotel design, interior designers help with floor coverings, furniture, wall coverings, color schemes, etc. You may choose to design hotels which are broad or decide to specialize in bed and breakfast boutique hotels, hostels, or business hotels – all unique opportunities.
While is typical to start out as a generalist, and dabble in many different areas throughout the early stages of your career, most designers will choose to focus on one or two specific areas of interior design. There are many reasons why choosing a specialization is preferred to being a ‘jack of all trades’, including:
Inspired by Egyptian concepts of décor, both the Roman and Greek civilizations utilized mosaics, wall paintings, and vases. Home interior styles varied, however; the Romans focused on beauty and comfort, as a means to demonstrate wealth and status. They made furniture from a variety of wood, stones, and metals. Consistent with their emphasis on luxury and aesthetics, furnishings included comfortable and fashionable cushions; while wall coverings displayed decorative designs. In contrast, Greeks focused on the decoration of intricately crafted furniture designs. Precious metals and ivory were used to create elegant furniture. Romans and Greeks also invented doomed-roof buildings
A thorough survey of interior design reveals one obvious fact: the evolution of each style never occurred in a vacuum. Just as river-rock is shaped by variations in the currents of flowing water, each of the unique interior design styles was determined, to a great extent, by what was happening on the exterior. Politics, war, economics, technology, architecture, education and climate change have all contributed to designs which have accurately depicted the artistic passions and needs of the prevailing artists, as well as those of the participatory populace.
Historic Conservation & Restoration Designer: Many of these designers will travel the world, visiting and restoring ancient buildings. They will need a thorough knowledge of history as well as design, and carefully plan interventions to prolong a building’s heritage.
International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Interior Design Society American Society of Interior Designers BIID Designers Guild Design Guild Interiors Designer Society of America Society of British and International Interior Design
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There are many other specialties not mentioned above. Some of the lesser-known include:
There are many areas of specialization within the field of interior design. Many aspiring designers may not know of all the interior design specialties. Here are some of the more popular specialties:
Universal Design: As society continues to advance and become more empathetic and willing to help those with disabilities, the design specialty of universal interior design will continue to grow. A Universal Designer will make spaces more accessible to persons with disabilities, such as those who may need a ramp for a stroller or wheelchair.
A thorough survey of interior design reveals one obvious fact: the evolution of each style never occurred in a vacuum. Just as river-rock is shaped by variations in the currents of flowing water, each of the unique interior design styles was determined, to a great exten…
Bathroom Design: This is another specialty that is becoming increasingly popular. Designers help clients create a bathroom that is as functional as it is comfortable and tranquil.
But in the end, an interior designer will have more freedom to create a design envisioned by their client. Plus, they are likely to be paid a higher salary when working for an interior design firm, a department store, or as a self-employed designer. Aspiring interior designers should expect to attend classes such as lighting design, interior design, sustainable design, the psychology of color, computer-aided design (CAD) and so on. Most interior designers choose a specialization while in school.
The NCIDQ, National Council for Interior Design Qualification, defines an Interior Designer, as, “The Professional Interior Designer is qualified by education, experience, and examination to enhance the function and quality of interior spaces.” However, as the industry evolves, designers are redefining what it means to be an interior designer. Some interior designers say that interior design enhances the function, safety, and quality of inside spaces. Others say that outside spaces, merchandising, and architecture are also disciplines within this field. Within the scope of Interior Design are specializations such as residential and commercial. But, before tackling the topic of specializations, an important question to ask yourself is whether you are looking for a career as either a designer or as a decorator.
A great way to start making industry connections is to become an American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) student member while still in school. Participate in a local chapter or organize your own if your school doesn’t have one. Then, participate in ASID chapter events to meet future colleagues and employers, receive additional training, and get your name out there.
As members of a service profession, designers work with a wide range of clients and complete both commercial and residential projects. Although most favor one or the other, many designers work at least part time in both fields, or try one field for a time and switch later on in their career.
The Renaissance period was known as the sacred “rebirth” of art, architecture, literature, science, music, and interior design. Originating in Tuscany and Florence, Italy, the design influences of the Middle Ages, such as pointed arches and markedly delineated lines in design, were softened into rounded arches and hearty columns. Decoratively the bestial gargoyle was replaced with gentle depictions of European life.
About 3 out of 10 interior designers are self-employed. Many more provide design services in architecture, furniture, and in home furnishing stores. Still others perform freelance design work while holding a salaried job in design or another field.
Restaurant Design: These designers focus on providing the right look and feel, and ultimately the patron’s experience which could be impacted by the lighting, tables, paint colors, and so on. They are also responsible for the health and safety regulations of kitchens and staff. Those who choose this specialty must be knowledgeable with all safety codes and ordinances issued by the city or state.
Get involved in career-related extracurricular activities to start crafting a personal brand. Participate in art, architecture, language arts, and other programs. Take business classes that teach you the basic fundamentals of how to run a business. The goal of self-branding is to highlight your talents, interests, and accomplishments.
Interestingly, the Renaissance was partly the result of the “profane” political ambitions of kings and rulers in the form of wars raged, as well as artistic pursuits driven by ego. One example of this is the massive influence of Francois I, King of France. François’s appreciation for the arts and ongoing war with Italy served to provide inspiration for a resurgence of creativity within France’s cultural, scientific, intellectual and artistic communities. In Francois’s mind, he was strengthening the crown as well as his political position by bringing Italian masters and their works to France. Most famously his acquisition of the services of Leonardo da Vinci and the painting of the Mona Lisa which he used to decorate the royal hunting lodge, the Château de Chambord.
Green Interior Design: If your passion lies in creating a sustainable environment, you may want to look at specializing into this specialization. Designers in this area create amazing designs that are environmentally friendly and use sustainable products, methods, and supplies. For example, they may choose to incorporate a large tree in the entrance of a home, or only use reclaimed materials to construct a kitchen.
Color can alter a person’s mood, incite anger, evoke happiness, or call to mind feelings of indifference and sadness. Even so, most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the effects of color in their homes or offices. Yet, the color and design in our home …
Before the 19th century, art and interior design were enjoyed, commissioned and promulgated only by a country’s powerful, wealthy and influential individuals. However, as feudal and ancestral determinations of societal value were increasingly diminished by socio-technological-economic developments; the importance of the individual citizen became the firstborn and all-important prodigy of modernization.
To achieve any of these career paths, your inherent creativity and design prowess probably aren’t enough. This is an extremely competitive field, and to get noticed, you should seek a college degree in interior design, experience in the field, and professional certification.
Residential Design: The most common area of interior design is residential. In this area, designers will be knowledgeable about all the various areas within a home. There are even sub-specialities within residential. Some choose to focus on being experts in a niche such as bathrooms. Residential designers work with clients to design or improve the function and form of their living spaces while reflecting the client’s style.
Subject-Matter Expertise: Clients like to know that if they need a kitchen remodel, they are hiring a designer who has designed many kitchens as opposed to an interior designer who focuses on hotel room layout. Working in one or two specific areas allows interior designers to devote themselves and eventually become experts.
Feng-Shui Interior Design: A Chinese philosophical system that looks to harmonize the environment around us. In design, it is commonly used as a guide to foster positive energy and balance, by arranging furniture and using color and light to make environments functional and comfortable. Although an ancient practice, it is wildly popular today throughout the world.
Kitchen Design: Another specialization that is becoming more popular is kitchen designer. Kitchen designers help clients create the kitchen of their dreams; from flooring and cabinets to appliances, and paint.
Interior design technique is all about “how.” How to use CAD and Google SketchUp to create floor plans, how to render drawings by hand, how to find the right furniture, and ultimately how to please the client.
While still in design school, take high-quality photos of every completed project to start building a strong portfolio from day one of your training. Include pictures of hand-drawn sketches and drafts, sample boards, CAD and SketchUp drawings, models, as well as your resume.
There’s little doubt that a career as an Interior Designer can be fun and diverse. You may decide to generalize or specialize, but either way in this field you will impact the lives of many people in many different environments. You will always be learning and improving your knowledge about the field or specialty, and you will work alongside industry partners on a daily basis as you lead clients to their goals and vision. Your career as an interior designer is like no other, so nurture your potential and do what you are destined to do – design.
Corporate Interior Design: Incorporates many of the same duties of Commercial Interior Design such as creating attractive and functional spaces in a retail or office building. For example, they may enter an office space and see nothing but rows and rows of cubicles, and decide instead to create co-working spaces and open concept rooms for the workers.
To enhance the living spaces, families added functional furniture which they covered in animal skins or other textiles. Over time, versions of pottery such as painted vases, wall murals, and sculptures became popular.
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The good news is that not only does one enjoy a wide-range of design styles from which to choose; you also do not have to decorate solo. In the early 1900’s, professional interior design emerged as a career and never again would an individual, family or business have to brave the oceans of décor alone. In fact, in 2016, there were over 53,000 practicing interior designers in the U.S. alone specializing in styles such as Traditional American, Country, Shabby Chic, Scandinavian, Nautical, Hacienda, Minimalist, Industrial, Asian, Bohemian/Morrocan and Eclectic, just to name a few.
The High and Late Middle Ages witnessed Romanesque architecture evolve into what was termed Gothic in style. First appearing in the 12th century in France, the design is characterized by ribbed vaults, pointed arches, and flying buttresses. Consistent with European countries devotion to their religion, the most celebrated examples of the Gothic style are to found in churches, cathedrals, and abbeys. Christian worshippers believed their creator judged their faith based on the expanse and grandeur of their religious structures. The taller and more grand the building, the more blessing would be bestowed upon them by the Christian God, here on earth and in the afterlife.
To succeed in the fast-paced interior design industry, it’s essential to not only be creative, artistic, and imaginative, but also disciplined, organized, and business-savvy. After all, interior design is about more than just achieving an aesthetic vision – it’s about finding clients and satisfying their need for a functional space; on budget and on time. Interior designers must be comfortable meeting and dealing with potentially difficult clients. They listen effectively, convey ideas clearly, work collaboratively with contractors, architects, and service providers; and have excellent time management and budgetary skills.
As the industry evolves, designers are redefining what it means to be an interior designer. Some interior designers say that interior design enhances the function, safety, and quality of inside spaces. Others say that outside spaces, merchandising, and architecture are…
Design methods create the systematic framework for how you implement your designs. Perhaps one designer’s method includes hand-drafting and space planning while another prefers to walk around the space to be redesigned and make changes on an iPad they carry with them. It’s common for two designers to use the same design methods and come to completely different conclusions on how to design a space. That’s what makes interior design specific to each individual, and individually distinct.
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Emerging after WWI, Art Deco was born into the roar of the 1920’s. Wealth in the U.S. doubled between the years 1920-1929 and brought with it an attitude of new opulence, extravagance, and indulgence. The interior design style of the period was identified by the use of chrome, stainless steel, geometric and streamlined shapes. With increased urbanization came mass culture and an interior design style which hosted bold shapes, broad curves, black leather and even a dash of zebra skin.
An impressive portfolio is the key to landing a job after graduation, where you can continue to build your portfolio and achieve your career goals.
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Although it only lasted three decades, from 1880-1910 Art Noveau movement was profoundly influential on the history of interior design. Predominantly characterized by geometric shapes, arcs, and symmetrical parabolas; the style led to the creation of Tiffany lamps and an overall adoption of stained glass. The world- famous Eiffel Twoer is symbolic of the artistic design of this period.
A career as an interior designer is exciting for creative and passionate individuals who want to make a living in an artistic field. If you have the right technical and creative skills, an inclination to conception and composition, interior design could be a great career for you.
Passion: You must love what you do otherwise your work becomes tedious and unsatisfying. Do you enjoy residential real-estate and working one-on-one with clients? Then, a residential specialty may be a good fit. But, if you would rather design the inside of corporate offices, then look instead at corporate interior design. Identifying a specialization that you are passionate about will lead to a more fulfilling, rewarding and fruitful career.
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For more information about the Interior Design career field, experts in the field of Interior design, and schools to further your education, as well as the 100’s of other art careers, check out The Art Career Project career page
Interior designers might also focus on one particular style, such as classic, modern, Zen, Japanese, or Asian. Focusing on one style has both it’s advantages and disadvantages. You will be considered an expert in the one area, but you may find work sporadic or infrequent. That’s something to consider if choosing to go this direction.
Airplane Interior DesignRV’s and Yachts Interior DesignExhibit DesignSet Design
To certify your professional status, you must sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. To qualify to take the exam, you must have six years of combined education and professional work experience.
That said, there are similarities between the two careers. A designer must be properly trained, which typically involves earning a certificate, associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and become credentialed in the state he or she wishes to practice. An interior designer must also understand the many laws and regulations around building permits and zoning laws as they often work with architects and contractors to help achieve a particular look for the space. A decorator, on the other hand, can offer consultation on the visual aspects of an area, but typically cannot consult on breaking down the walls. They are ideal for entering a room and sprucing up the space by helping their clients choose the best paint colors, fabrics, and furniture. They do not need formal training, and they don’t work with contractors or architects.
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