Are Interior Designers In Demand?
"I’ve been fascinated for as long as I can remember with interior design. It seems like it might be more approachable than architecture to learn, but it has a lot of the same appeal. I’d still get to work on peoples’ houses, and interiors really are just as important as exteriors when it comes to creating a certain ambiance in an environment. Interior designers are needed for public buildings too, aren’t they? I’m sure I’d love it, but what I’m worried about is the practical aspect. Do people really need interior designers? Or do they think they’re a waste of money and that they can design their interiors on their own? Do architects typically take care of interior design as well? Can I really build a career doing this, or is there no demand?"
asked by Abdul from Long Island City, NY
It isn’t the kind of soaring demand you would find in a more practical field like medicine, but it isn’t staying the same or declining, and that’s something. And again, if you look up other fields which are artistic in nature, you are not going to find nearly as much demand in most of them. What is causing demand for interior design to grow? We have a growing population, and more buildings are going up every year in the public and private sector. That necessitates a lot of different occupations associated with all aspects of design—including interior design.
Interior designers take on both residential and commercial projects. Which types of projects you choose to work on will depend on a number of factors, including your own personal preferences, demand in your area, and your expertise. Some interior designers choose to focus exclusively on interior design for homes. Others may focus primarily on interior design for businesses. Still others may focus entirely on public buildings. Others may take on a wide variety of projects and excel at all of them.
Design projects relating to homes and small offices often are contracted to increase the accessibility of the space or to make it more environmentally friendly. Large companies also contract interior designers regularly to make improvements to their structures. Oftentimes these companies budget their projects years in advance. This plays to your advantage, because even during challenging economic times like these many companies still have the budget necessary to hire interior designers for projects because they planned ahead. This is one reason there is a unique amount of demand for interior design, despite the fact that it is aesthetic in nature. Companies may not set money aside to buy artwork or other non-essentials, but they may very well have plenty to offer an interior designer.
Specializations in Interior Design
There are a couple of things you can do to try and increase your chances of finding viable, reliable work in the field of interior design. Firstly, you can consider specializing in a particular design area and joining a specialized design firm (or starting one on your own). The fastest growth rate is expected in the area of specialty interior design: 27%. That’s quite a bit higher than the overall growth rate for the occupation.
For example, you might specialize in the design of kitchens. This requires some unique knowledge, and keeps you focused. Bathroom remodeling is another popular specialty. Online, if you look up kitchen and bathroom remodeling and design firms, you will be able to look at portfolios for companies like this, and also have a look at the services they provide. This can give you an idea for what it would be like to do this particular type of interior design.
If you do not want to specialize in designing a particular type of room, you could specialize in particular types of public spaces, like airports or hotels. These types of spaces have unique needs which must be met. An airport must have a certain functionality to the layout of its space and décor. Good interior design in an airport can help passengers wait comfortably for their flights and make it to the gates on time. Poor interior design may cause them to be miserable or miss their flights. A well-designed hotel can make it easy for guests to find amenities and feel welcome. A poorly designed hotel interior can make guests feel uncomfortable and may make it challenging to find amenities.
Not interested in specializing at all? Another thing you can do to boost demand for your services as an interior designer is to stick to an area where people earn higher incomes and have more expensive lifestyles. Those who can afford life’s luxuries are more likely to contract with an interior designer for residential projects. Those who cannot will not be able to pay for your services. The fact that you’re located in Long Island City is beneficial—you are already in one of those high-income areas. You would probably not find the same level of opportunity if you moved to a small town in rural mid-America. Urban and suburban areas are likely to offer more opportunity, especially those which are expanding quickly.
Getting Started in Interior Design
You should get in touch with an academic advisor at a local school and talk about local demand for the occupation. Professors are used to working with students to help them find internships, establish professional connections in the community and around the world, and get started in their fields. An academic advisor in interior design will be able to give you an idea as to what you could expect in your area, as well as what kind of demand you can find throughout the country and around the world. The advisor may also be able to provide you with some ideas as far as specializations are concerned.
You’ll need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related field to get started. A degree in interior design is more involved than it used to be, as are careers in the field. In the past, interior designers spent most of their time decorating environments, but now many interior designers are directly involved in architectural planning and detailing, including built-in units which are a part of the domicile or public building. They may also get involved in architectural renovations.
You will need to be familiar with CAD if you want to stand out to employers in the field, and you will also need to become licensed to work in most states. If you are trying to specialize in a particular field in order to find demand, you may also want to pursue a certification in that particular area. For example, you can apply for a certificate from the National Kitchen and Bath Association if you wish to work on kitchens and baths.
Another thing you can do to boost your access to opportunity when you are first starting out is to participate in the Interior Design Experience Program. This is a program offered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, and aimed at entry-level designers. Through this program, you can access mentors who can help you to get a foothold in the market and also take a look at your work to make sure you are meeting all quality standards. With work experience, particularly in a design firm, you can advance and move up the ranks, eventually working your way up to a position such as chief designer.
One more thing which you should know before you jump into interior design is that you may very well be looking at work as a freelancer.
You will still find more demand for designers in design firms and other companies, but if you are a self-starter, you may find significant opportunity to run your own business. Start looking into programs in your area, talk to an advisor, and see if there is anybody you can talk to who is an interior designer. The more you learn, the better placed you will be after college to make the most of the demand that is out there!