Interior Design and the Profession

IF YOU THINK it is a fact that artistic people are not business people, you must remember that the client is also aware of this fact, which can result in the designer being put at a disadvantage. Artistic people are more vulnerable. For that reason I recommend finding and working with the best legal and accounting minds.

How to Become a Successful Interior Designer?

interior designer

It is not enough to want to do beautiful things for other people. A successful interior designer should have goals, one of which is to achieve the lifestyle that he or she is advocating or designing for the client. A successful job is when the client and designer are both satisfied aesthetically and financially. JAY SPECTRE Designer, New York

THE OPPOSITION has been nurtured in the schools where anything other than design is a lesser breed, if not mongrelian. Those smart enough to go on for a business degree generally discover they would be wise to forego the profession if they intend to marry, have kids, buy a home, and have change left for bus fare. Those of us trained in the “hairshirt” approach to design in the early forties (i.e., if you’re making money you cannot be contributing to society) are in for the joy of it, but are having a hell of a time financially. The rise of contract design has forced the schools to be a little more holistic in their approval to an approval curriculum. NORMAN R. DeHAAN, AIA, FASID Chicago

BASED ON WORK WE SEE depicted in the professional journals and on visits throughout the land, we believe the state-of-the-art of our profession is the highest in recent history. Furthermore, it has been our experience that major design occurs when we, as practitioners, have direct access to the highest level of authority. As top-level management abrogates its responsibility and leaves critical decisions to the age’s new creation, facilities management, quality deteriorates. POWELL, KLEINSCHMIDT Architects, Chicago

The Basic Requirement of an Interior Designer

THE DESIGNER NEEDS a basic grasp of these business fundamentals…

  1. first and foremost, the clients must be well-served;
  2. secondly, happy employees are more productive than unhappy ones;
  3. lastly, suppliers need to be treated with respect and need to feel confident that they will be paid for their product or labor.

One goes into this business because he wants to design beautiful furniture and create wonderful rooms. A designer should make the time to attract and develop a clientele, but most importantly, he must have the time to think…to dream…to create. BRUCE GREGGA Designer, Chicago, IL

THE NOTION THAT artistic and business skills are necessarily in conflict is simply the perpetuation of a myth. There are any number of examples of great and famous historic figures, musicians, actors, artists and architects whose skill in both was legendary. In our own times, the myth is fed by the inclination of students, practitioners and teachers to take advantage of the idea that incompetence in one area is an evidence of superiority in the other. Most often, in our fields, it is the claim of idiocy in practical matters that is used to bolster a matching claim for genius in the creative realm. What nonsense!

Design education has a responsibility, a responsibility that the best schools and educators have long recognized, to insist that the practical (including business matters) and the artistic abilities must both be developed in a way that makes each support the other. Excusing a “no head for business” attitude in the hope that creative genius will compensate makes no more sense than encouraging a design bumbler because of outstanding business skills. We are surrounded by the work of professionals whose success results from the latter situation. JOHN PILE Author and Educator, New York

WHILE I DO BELIEVE that many interior design professionals are not properly trained, I cannot accept that good business practices and good design are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Indeed, one could suggest that they are not only mutually compatible but perhaps even necessary to a successful career.

The problem is not how to properly teach business ability, but to start teaching it in the schools: with business, ethics, legal, and estimating courses. Incorporate business principles in the design studio by critiquing each project as a real job with real problems, using realistic budgets, and demanding and inquiring clients.

The problem is that students are taught “designer arrogance,” and are left to learn about the real world when they start working. On the job training is haphazard at best: the design department only designs, and the production department only produces. What if you are a designer who can write proposals, produce, and perhaps even have some knowledge of costs and materials? You are most likely shunted to the ‘business’ side of the office, set for life trying to keep your ‘designer’ partners out of hot water.

The business contribution to achieving innovative, quality design: making the successful, profit producing, proposal to the client; bringing the design in on time and under budget; and satisfying the client’s needs; is as important to the design process as the original concept. That is what needs to be taught in design schools. LENORE M. LUCEY, AIA New York

Artistic and Business Abilites

ARTISTIC AND BUSINESS ABILITIES are compatible–they are certainly not mutually exclusive. One must recognize interior design as a profession, and not as a form of art or as a business. A professional education for the field of interior design should be predicated upon a solid liberal arts baccalaureate followed by professional education.

The realization places part of the responsibility for educating young designers on the shoulders of their employers. And, indeed that is the way it is in all professions. Schools must not let themselves be pushed into the position of becoming mere service stations to the professions and to the business community. Accepting this point of view, it follows logically that design education is the joint responsibility of educational institutions and the profession for which they prepare their students. ARNOLD FRIEDMANN Educator and Author, New York

THESE DIVERGENT AGENDAS would blend more gracefully if education met its responsibilities. It should be as imperative for design students to learn about and respect commerce as the reverse for business students. These integrated attitudes should be structured into the learning process by assigning architecture and interiors problems that foster an awareness of how economy and imagination interact and business projects that accomplish the same objectives. For example, in artistic development, use and financial restraints can be treated as the inspiring subject matter of art, providing the student is persuaded to accept such conceptual challenges.

A new and revised education should weave art and business together at every stage of a student’s development. The issues of separation would thus disappear because the value of one to the other would generate a common language where neither is compromised and both enhanced. JAMES WINES, SITE New York