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Tricks of the Trade: Helpful tips not taught at Design School

Design Schools are great in giving us tools to work in a studio environment and help us understand our capabilities. Many seasoned interior designers however, talk about how their valuable interior design lessons were learned post graduation, through trial and error and experience. Design school and design students can be focused on creativity and aesthetics without fostering the skills needed to survive and thrive in the industry. Here are some valuable tips that you may not learn in college:

Treat your business like a business

Design is a business: If you truly want a career as a designer, You must know how to do goal-driven work. Mike Monteiro states (in his essay “10 things you need to learn in design school if you’re tired of wasting your money”), design does not sell itself.

Design school teaches you how to hone your aesthetic, to develop your palate but many times fresh design school graduates struggle in finessing their business acumen and treating themselves like a business. You will need to analyze data and know how to measure effectiveness. You need to know how to build and extend brands, and ultimately sell your designs to your clients. Being an interior designer is as much about learning how to negotiate and manage finances as it is about finding the perfect couch for the living room. If numbers and finance elude you, try taking courses or outsource that portion of your business to someone more capable.

Learn How to Communicate

It may seem obvious, but making sure you and your client are on the same page, is perhaps the most important thing in ensuring that your job is easier and that your client is satisfied. “Communication is key” in this industry for the sole reason that it is so interactive, and it is always good to check that everyone understands all the work that is being done. Whether it’s a concept that needs to be relayed to your client, presentations that need to be put together or chains of important emails that need to be sent between the manufacturers, designers, showrooms and everyone in between, knowing how to write is an important skill to master.

Embrace Your Community

Being someone in the interior design community means that you are constantly working with others, whether it is craftspeople, artisans, manufacturers, showrooms and other designers. It is important to develop meaningful relationships by talking to like-minded people in the industry and growing with them as a business. A lot of the jobs present in this industry are through referrals and word of mouth, so if you have a good reputation, people are likely to refer you to their resources and potential jobs. This helps facilitate trust between clients and fellow tradespeople. Put yourself out there, whether it is through interning in a showroom, getting to know the people who work in the design center, networking with interns at your and other design firms.

Always Keep Learning

Whether it is familiarizing yourself with different design concepts from other parts of the world, or reading up on new technology launches that can help with your workload, the world of design is ever-evolving, and there is no limit to what can be learned. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from your vendors, look for book launches and talks by successful designers, a lot of which you can attend for free. Attend events that introduce you to innovative platforms and allow you to mingle with the industry’s up and coming names.

Keep Up With Technology

Keeping up with and knowing the best technology that can help your business is key in being the future of design. Take RoomScan Pro App as a perfect example in how technology has made creating floor plans an easy task. Visualizing is very important in this field. Apps like Gather, help you collect images and information from any website and share them easily with your client. If you are having a difficult time visualizing how your designs will work together, Homestyler Interior Design is an amazing app that lets you use the camera on your phone or tablet to snap photos and see how actual furniture products, light fixtures, decorations and even wall colors can look in a specific space. These kinds of apps can be used as a tool to reassure clients and help them understand you vision. Our personal favorite app (we may be a little biased) is Bellvine’s new app that launches this year. It is an exciting avenue that streamlines sourcing and buying wholesale luxury furnishings by connecting manufacturers, showrooms and designers online. The more you know about how the industry develops, the more your business can grow!

Bellvine, is a marketplace for the interior design industry that streamlines sourcing and buying wholesale luxury furnishings by connecting manufacturers, showrooms and designers online.

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