My advice to school leavers thinking about a career in interior design is based on 3 decades as a magazine stylist, designer, and author of my Pure Style titles which show you how to live more simply and creatively.
All photos are Jane's work.
Q:Where would you suggest school leavers start if thinking about a career in interior design? A:
Firstly, you should start thinking about the areas in which you’d like to work. It could be as an interior decorator, interior magazine stylist, or set designer for TV and commercials. You might also be interested in working in a specialist design or fabric show room. You should also think about what really interests you, whether it be modern spaces, or period schemes, or whether you simply have a passion for furniture, or paint or fabrics.
The way to go about this is to start reading and looking at everything you can on the subject. There are some brilliant interior blogs, such as Remodelista and Dezeen. Trawl your local library for design books. Also read up on architecture to understand different architectural styles.
Magazines are expensive, but I would recommend a subscription to the World of Interiors for the last word in brilliant interior design inspiration.
Go to every relevant design show and art exhibition that you can. The Chelsea Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour in London is well worth visiting and also advertises job vacancies. Go to as many art exhibitions and design shows that you can afford. Really important and full of inspiration is the London Design Festival
Start a notebook cataloguing your ideas. Write down useful addresses and potential contacts. Sketch room plans and ideas; it’s good to get visual thoughts down on paper. Play with making your own mood boards. I make mine with scraps of fabrics, paint samples, and photos of room objects that inspire me. Take photos of your own still life set ups – such as a simple table setting or style a corner of the room. Set up a blog where you post your favorite buildings or spaces. Also learn some basic DIY or how to sew, these are useful skills for anyone interested in interior design
Q:Are there any specific GCSEs or A Levels they should think about? A:
At GCSE I think art, maths, English are key and a language such as French, German or Spanish is very useful if you want to think about working abroad.
At A level, art, Design and Technology, History of Art and photography are key and also a language such as French German or Spanish or even Mandarin if you’re thinking of working abroad or in a company that has overseas links.
Q:How important is work experience in interior design? A:
Work experience is essential and you should try to find it in the following ways, even if it is just being asked to make the tea and pick up fabric samples for a couple of weeks.
Try the following:
Work for an interior designer/decorator/ interior architect. Look through interior design magazines, House & Garden, Homes and Gardens, Elle Decoration and The World of Interiors are best, and target the designers whose work you like. Also look for the lists of the Top 100 designers that are often put together by design magazines. Send your CV and follow up with a phone call.
Assist an interior magazine stylist: Many are freelance and you can track them down by looking at the credits for design features. Or you should contact HR at the relevant magazines and see what internships they offer.
Work in a design shop or fabric showroom. This could be anything from a local junk shop to the fabric department of a store like John Lewis.
Q:Is a degree necessary? A:
No a degree is not necessary for a job in interior design. What is important is that you have a passion for design, a feeling for colour, an attention to detail and are organised, numerate and enjoy working with other people.
Q:What do employers look for on a CV in interior design? A:
When I am looking for someone to assist me in my work, a candidate with some practical skills will take the lead over other applicants. Stylists love an assistant who can whip up a seam or use a paint brush and have computer skills such as photoshop illustrator, and indesign.
Q:Your best piece of advice to aspiring interior designers? A:
Look, look, and keep looking all around you for visual inspiration.