How to become an Interior Designer

becoming an Interior Designer

Do you love to restore old furniture, lose yourself for hours in haberdasheries and frequently fall asleep under a copy of Vogue Living? Then a career in interior design might just be for you. But where to start?

Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration graduate Briellyn Turton gained experience in both commercial and residential interior design whilst studying for her diploma at Torrens University, which now sees her running her own freelance business, and in parallel Head of Product and Interiors at ZUBU LIVING. You can check out Brie’s six things to know before breaking into the interior design industry. Alumni Alex Morrison on the other hand knew residential interiors were her future, captivated by spaces and all that could be possible. Alex was featured in Belle Magazine recently and shared a little inspiration about how she approaches her projects.  We hope this blog will provide inspiration to help you get started in a career in interior design. 

Education To Become An Interior Designer

To be an interior designer is having the expertise to make a space inspiring, functional and safe. It’s important to develop both theoretical and technical knowledge about fundamental interior design and decoration principles and practices.

The first step is to find which path to start your learning. An interior design course is one of the best ways to gain both theory and practical knowledge. And there are many options ranging from a certificate, diploma or undergraduate degree - all of which are steppingstones towards a career in interior design. 

It’s important throughout your studies to showcase your skills by creating a strong portfolio of your work. The interior design diploma will contribute to your professional portfolio and as graduate Briellyn Turton states ‘think of your assignments as your resume’. Whilst studying at Torrens University Briellyn completed a Billy Blue x Vogue Australia internship, where she learnt skills she was able to apply to her future roles – not to mention many-a-great industry contact.

Interior Designer Qualifications

If you’re an aspiring interior designer it’s important to know qualification is highly regarded by employers in Australia. Although it is possible to create a successful career in interior design without formal training, over 87% of interior designers hold a certificate or higher-level qualification.  

What’s also great about formal training is you can sometimes undertake work experience through your university, being introduced to clients and assisting with live briefs or completing internships.

If you’re not sure which area of interior design you want to work in, the good news is you can gain experience in both commercial and residential projects in the Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration. This program includes a great range of electives and subjects to help you learn the ins and outs of interior design.

A diploma can help you identify what kind of career outcome you’d like to achieve, but if it’s commercial you’re really after then look in our Bachelor of Interior Design (Commercial) or if it’s residential you prefer then the Bachelor of Interior Design (Residential) would be right for you. If you’re already certain about your career path, you can dive right into one of the above Bachelor's degrees.

To find out more about each of these courses in detail listen to our National Academic Co-ordinator to hear more about the courses.

Typical Personality Traits

Successful interior designers have a balance of great people skills and creative skills. A few key personality traits will hold you in good stead in this industry: 

  • Be open-minded and welcome the opportunity to gain experience working with an array of different clients
  • Be a good listener first and foremost, developing your communication and presentation skills too
  • A passion for design is good, but an eye for detail will add more value and trust than you can imagine
  • Be excited to learn new ways to translate that creative vision in your mind onto both paper and screen 

Responsibilities of An Interior Designer

Alumni Alex Morrison completed her Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration at Torrens University. She is featured in Belle magazine showcasing her incredible work and shares the responsibilities she took on, in a newly renovated Darling Point apartment. 

Whilst undertaking this much-loved Darling Point home Alex spent time:

  • Identifying what the challenges were in the space and thinking of practical and desirable outcomes
  • Understanding what the focal point was, in this instance the harbour view and ensuring she complimented the view and did not take away from it
  • Playing with textures and one-off pieces to help tie in the history of the location

When you are evaluating course options, consider the following:

  • Start with a diploma to get a feel for the industry first if you are unsure where you feel a fit
  • Find a course that lets you test-run various design processes and collaborate with industry along the way
  • If sustainability is a key factor for you, explore whether the course addresses the issues of sustainability and ethical design?
  • Assess whether the course will help you discover ways to design appropriately for a range of clients, and learn about the different materials, finishes and design processes that shape the environments in which we live and work.
  • Review the technologies and workshops provided along the way to ensure your skills will be at work-ready professional standard when you graduate.

Most importantly though, spend the time to talk to those in the industry. Return to those haberdashers, joiners, and tilers, and talk to suppliers in the industry. You can also set up a time to talk to our success coaches or academics and course and career advisors on campus.

Check our Interior Design and Decoration Courses to learn more
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