How to Be a Successful Interior Designer
The definition of success is certainly subjective. In terms of what makes a career successful one could measure success as it relates to salary, benefits and professional advancement. Interior designers strive to create intentional, fresh and personalized spaces for their clients. It’s a business of helping others.
Designers are hired for their expertise in a variety of categories, not for their own personal style. Clients want their designer to be the facilitator of their own personal style. A designer’s reputation is a result from the positive, personal experience with the client. There are specific core strengths of an interior designer that correlate with success.
Creativity is certainly the origin of the desire to pursue a career in interior design. Beyond color, fabrics, furniture and schematics, successful interior designers have an innate ability to imagine spaces that their clients cannot. There’s a mystery to that and it creates interest and excitement, especially for the client. People who choose to become interior designers thrive on developing and executing a plan of their own interpretation. It’s a hands-on career that is truly ever-changing.
Stellar communication skills are of supreme importance for the interior designer. Clear communication between designer and client is necessary, and also with business partners who interface on specific projects. Listening to a client’s objectives, understanding budget and style direction are key elements to the outcome of any project. Additionally, understanding a client’s lifestyle, schedule and personality beyond an initial meeting or two add depth to the designer-client relationship. Successful interior designers are astute detectives. Having a more personal understanding for a client’s life allows an interior designer to make suggestions beyond what is requested, and that reinforces the value of the designer incrementally. The ability to balance practicality and aesthetics is a prized characteristic of an interior designer.
It really is all in the details. Interior designers create a sense of calm for their clients, when all the details have been thought through. In some cases interior designers act as project manager, and with preparation, planning and pro-activity even the most challenging circumstances are more manageable.
Interior designers are multi-taskers and collaborators. They may be reviewing blueprints with an electrician while also re-scheduling furniture shipment dates in the same hour. Clients depend on their designer to stay focused when they cannot. Their creative and technical eye is critical at every turn of a project; otherwise, why should consumers shop beyond the pages of a catalog or the aisles of big box stores? Quality interior designers offer tremendous value saving their clients time and money.
Professional ethics in business is certainly not an oxymoron in the design industry. Since the services provided are from an individual – not a product – the quality of service completely transcends to that interior designer’s reputation. Exceeding a client’s expectations is the gold standard. The same caliber of service is applicable with business partners. A designer is only as good as the company she/he keeps.
Designers are team leaders and team players. An interior designer’s good reputation correlates directly to a thriving business. Simply put, professionalism is having a sense of pride, follow-through and let’s not forget – good manners – and allows an interior designer’s talents to stand above the rest!
A business savvy interior designer needs to stay current and maintain a competitive edge with trends and innovations. Professional memberships and continuing education provide industry-related conferences and classes. Successful interior designers remain students in their trade. Embracing technology and learning how to take advantage of social media is a means to promote and share one’s talent and design services. Target-marketing, brand-building, networking, blogging and publishing are all avenues for the business savvy interior designer to connect with new clients, current clients and business partners. Whether working as an associate in a firm or operating as a sole-proprietor, there is tremendous value with “back office” efforts.
A successful interior designer has more than a sense of style; he or she has talent, professional credentials, experience and business know-how. The core strengths described are the foundation to a thriving career in design. Interior design is a people business above all else. Relating to clients and producing outstanding results is an experience; those experiences are what clients remember and share. Those shared stories produce new clients. Now that’s a successful interior designer.