Interior Design Career Paths: Which road will you take?

There are a number of career paths that a designer can take and there are many fields within the world of interior design. Interior design is packed with opportunities in residential design, commercial, hospitality as well as more specific specialised areas. Whatever the path a designer takes, they must first come to grips with the basics of interior design. Many students in the academy have reported their surprise and indeed, joy that their course was so much more than picking curtains and rearranging furniture. Much like architecture, interior design is a complex marriage of design and problem solving which is why it includes so many fascinating and dynamic career options. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular and rewarding careers to aim for.

The many careers in Interior Design

Residential Interior Designer

This may be the most well known area of inter design but it is also a largely misunderstood field. It is in residential design that an interior designer will need to sharpen their soft skills and practise a lot of empathy. A home is a sacred space where families or individuals need to shut out the world and feel they are their own private space. The design should feel like a personal expression and the occupants need to relate to the design. This is where clients and designers need to find a common ground where they can trust each other and work together. It can be a delicate situation when a client is either unsure, or indeed too sure of what they want. But regardless of their differences, it is a collaborative effort and a design is only a success when the client is a happy client.

Commercial Interior Designer

Commercial interior design can include anything from offices and hotels to restaurants or retail outlets. While many of these spaces allow for great creative and imaginative expression, the design choices must also adhere to professional branding guidelines and high functionality. If there is going to be a lot of human activity, furnishings and surfaces may need to work extra hard in their lifetime. Commercial design is more than creative branding though, it is an opportunity to introduce a better way for people to live and to work. Designers are focussed on creating spaces for people to better move and work and to factor room for improved productivity or indeed serenity.

Sustainable Interior Designer

While sustainability is a necessity, it can also be considered a specialist area of design. Designers who prioritise sustainable practices and materials are in high demand for both their expertise and their ethos. People want to work with designers they can trust to make informed and responsible decisions with textiles, materials and waste

Hospitality and Wellness Designer

Hospitality can fall under the commercial design umbrella but it is also more specifically involved in designing spaces where people will spend time socialising and pampering. This market focuses on hotels, spas, resorts, and healthcare facilities. The human experience is central to this area of design and creating an appropriate ambiance is a vital aspect of any project.

Exhibition Designer

This is an area that can be overlooked by the uninformed but let it be known that exhibitions, trade shows and museums also need interior designers. Exhibition design can be on a very large scale and needs to be as efficient as it is interesting to visit. Designers need to account for large volumes of people, informative and thematic events and the overall immersive experience that a visitor will enjoy. There is a lot of fun to be had with exhibition design but it is not without its challenges.

There are numerous other speciality areas such as lighting designer, textiles or furniture design. As designers progress through their career, they may dip in and out of various areas, depending on projects and their field of interest. There is no one place that an interior designer must permanently remain. Continual learning and growth as a creative is always a positive approach to the work.

Building a Career in Interior Design

While much can be learned in a hands-on work experience environment, there are some vital skills that are best learned through education. Many employers will look for some level of qualification as they are acutely aware of the skills that may be too demanding to learn on the job. For example, the principles & elements of interior design are fundamental starting points for a designer as well as an insight into design history and various design movements. An understanding of basic architecture is also a necessary skill that is vital for any designer. Designing a space to its full potential is basically step one of interior design. There is also CAD, sketching and various communication and project management skills that are required.

Through education a designer will also learn how to build and curate a strong portfolio. This is the calling card for any design work and must be constantly maintained and updated. But it’s not just the portfolio that must remain relevant. A passionate designer will have a natural curiosity but it’s also important to make the time and effort to seek out new developments in design and see how you can make them work for you. 

Many interior designers begin with their childhood bedroom, moving furniture around and painting walls. Then they experience life, learn about the craft of interior design and find their calling in residential, commercial, hospitality or something entirely unexpected and fascinating.

With the right education and some passion and commitment, you too can take that inner designer and allow them to blossom.

The Interior Design Academy of Ireland understands how difficult it can be for people to commit to learning new skills, which is why we offer flexible study modes and affordable payment plans. You can study from home, in your own time or you can choose a classroom if you would prefer.

Our experienced tutors will guide you through a plan that combines artistic principles with practical applications. Our courses are designed to not only educate but also inspire, with hands-on projects, industry-standard software training, and a focus on current trends and sustainability.

Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to improve your current skills, our academy is the first step toward a successful career in interior design. Enrol now to begin creating spaces that tell stories.

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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