Friday, December 30, 2011

5 Lessons Learned as an Interior Design Student

I have learned a lot these past few years as an interior design student. I still have SO much that I don't know and haven't experienced yet...but here are a few of the biggest lessons I have learned while being a design student so far. I hope these will either just be interesting, or be helpful for someone considering going to school for design. (PS: I tried to categorize them...but they might kind of all blend together in some way, ha)

1) Real design is not like HGTV
In my first design class freshman year, the professor said, "If you don't know already, being an interior designer is not as glamorous as it seems on HGTV". I sat in my seat and slowly nodded my head as if I knew...but really I was thinking, " this won't be like Candice Olson on Divine Design?" I wasn't completely naive...I knew it was going to be more challenging than that. But at the time I had only really considered the glamorous parts of the industry. I really had no idea what I was in for (and I still have so much that I haven't experienced). It would be a dream to just frolic around shopping at home stores, wearing cute outfits, decorating a home for nice clients who have unlimited funds. And sometimes, that might be part of design. But there is much, MUCH more to design than that. 

2) Patience, patience, patience
Every student in this major will be creative in some way. But that's not enough. To actually do well on our design projects, it takes a whole lot of patience and attention to detail. First of all, there is so much detail that has to go into each project that something can always go wrong. You might have measured incorrectly or made a mistake while drawing the room, causing the furniture to not fit. You might choose the most fabulous light fixture to hang over a dining table, and then realize that the fixture has an 8 inch diameter and would look ridiculously small with the large table you chose. Because of this...I've learned that even though I'd like for everything to go according to plan, it's not unusual for the plan to need to be altered as I go. I've learned to pay really close attention to details, as well as being flexible when things need to be adjusted.

3) Designer vs. decorator
Before college, I never realized how offended interior designers are when they are called interior decorators. I had always thought they were interchangeable. Now, I'm only a design student and I completely understand why they are not. Here's the thing. There are so many creative and talented people out there. You could be a great interior decorator because of pure talent alone. But being an interior designer is so much more than the talent of picking out cute pillows that match the curtains. The difference is in the technical knowledge learned while going to design school. I'm halfway through my junior year and I've yet to have a class that mentions 'how to decorate'. I have literally been told before, "You are so lucky that your major is just like...drawing rooms and shopping online. SO JEALOUS!" ....oh no. Nooononono. No. I don't think I need to expand much more on that or I would probably start to rant. But no. I would not pay to go to school if I was just learning things like 'how to choose a cute rug'! 

4) There is always more to learn
No one will never fully master every aspect of design. There will always be more to trends to discover, fresh products, new ideas to be inspired by.  This is both exciting and overwhelming. Mostly exciting.

5) I am so glad this is what I'm studying
I think at some point everyone in college has at least a small moment where they freak out and wonder if they're doing the right thing. I definitely have, but it was short-lived. I had the thought that maybe I'd rather just DECORATE my own home some day, and wondered if I even cared to learn the technical designy stuff. Now I know for sure, I do. I feel blessed to be able to study something that I'm so passionate about, and really learn the ins and outs of the industry. Even in the times where I'm annoyed that I'm staying up until 5:30 AM perfecting a color board for my 8 AM presentation...I'm thinking, "At least I'm staying up this late for something design related instead of examining bacteria in petri dishes". There's nothing I'd rather be doing.

Lisa Leonard


meesch said...

I really like this post! I'm a graphic designer for publication layouts, and a lot about this post relates to my job as well... it's more than just pretty colors, shapes and textures - It gets really stressful trying to make everything work in one cohesive, flowing design!


Anonymous said...

LOL! I had to respond, mostly because of your "...instead of examining bacteria in petri dishes" line! I love your blog, I was following your mom's blog and I'm glad I'm now following yours.

I laughed when I read this because I'm a microbial ecologist, debating if this is really what I want to do with my life, your comment resonated with me.

Jenna // The Life of the Wife said...

I LOVE that post! I almost went to school to be an Interior DESIGNER, but alas, I chose Education instead. I still love "decorating" my house, but I can truly appreciate you girls/guys who go to school for it. ITS HARD WORK!!


Jadyn @ Dutch.British.Love said...

Love the photo with the bowl, that is a great saying. I am taking an interior decorating course, which does get somewhat technical, but not nearly as deeply as a degree would. I definitely respect what you go through and it was really fun to read about some of your takeaways from design school! I love the decorating aspect, but even that, as you say, is so much more than just picking a pretty pillow or rug. I can't wait to experience more and put tings into practice!

Anonymous said...

Hi Courtney ~ I love your blog! It's so interesting to hear what being a design student is really like. I would have studied design way back then if I had known what I know now! The picture of the bathroom with the mirrors and gray cabinet is so pretty ~ so much character. Enjoy your break and Happy New Year!

ARK said...

Such a great post...I am jealous of you...not because you are online shopping and drawing rooms all day, but because you get to study DESIGN all day. I moonlight reading design textbooks after the kiddos go to bed, in the bathtub, waiting at the doctor's office... You are truly blessed and I can't wait to read more!!

Lizzie Ann Designs said...

This is so true! I graduated with Interior Design a year ago and I can say that I thought the same thing going into it my freshman year! It's a tough major but it really is rewarding when you get to hand in your final project!

hope in high heels said...

This is such a great post... it's so lovely to get to "know" you a little given I have just stumbled across your fabulous blog!

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