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2013/02: Interior Designers – Get Out of the Box! PDF Print E-mail


out_of_the_box-title.gifcontributed by Aga Artka, Allied ASID, LEED AP [designer / blogger / entrepreneur / mentor] and Jenny Schrank, Allied ASID [writer / connector / mentor / marketing agent]

As creatives we are out-of-the-box thinkers, right? Then why do so many designers stay “in-the-box” when it comes to thinking about their careers? Interior designers gather information, find inspiration and create innovative solutions to complicated problems. Yet when it comes to our own careers, we aren’t always open to the world of possibilities.

The Interior Design Box

When we refer to the “interior design box,” we are talking about the traditional career path for an interior designer that is discussed in school. In many cases, the textbook definition presents opportunities in two directions: residential and commercial. The classroom may further explore settings such as architecture and design firms, furniture dealerships and showrooms or corporate facility positions. And these are all great career options, positions that we have both explored during our career journeys. There is nothing wrong with these more traditional paths. We have many colleagues with thriving careers in these environments. But, the economy and job market has limited the number of positions available for educated and experienced designers looking for these more defined commercial or residential career opportunities.

Getting Out of the Box

In order to get out-of-the-box, there is one very important first step -- STOP LOOKING FOR A JOB.  Not that we don’t want you to find a “job.” Getting out-of-the-box starts with a new mindset, a new way of thinking. Yes, you want to find a place of employment, but the goal is really to find an opportunity that will allow you to apply your strengths and gain valuable experience--an opportunity to help you move one step in the right career direction.

And the second step is to -- OPEN YOUR MIND TO THE POSSIBILITIES. When you stop thinking that your education and experience only qualifies you for a defined job description, you can start to remain open to the world of possibilities. The foundation of your design education prepares you for so many things, something that you may not have even considered before. Combine that education with previous degrees, experiences, likes, passions and strengths and you all of a sudden have interesting opportunities ahead of you.

Event planner, brand specialist, set designer, blogger, architectural photographer, bakery owner, personal shopper, project manager, real estate agent...These are some ways we have seen Out-of-the-Box interior designers make their mark.

How Do I Get Started?

Grab a piece of paper, a notebook, your computer or hand-held device and start thinking about you – the Brand of You.

1| What are your strengths? (drawing, conceptual thinking, project management, dealing with the details, accounting, color, graphics, computers, networking, writing, presenting, etc.)

2| What are your weaknesses? (Be honest with yourself!)

3| What are you passionate about? (Health/fitness, photography, children, helping others, fashion, cooking or baking, painting, traveling, foreign languages, etc...)

4| What type of environment do you excel in? (Large corporate environments, retail settings, small businesses, running your own business, large cities, rural towns, foreign countries, etc...)

This will get you started. If you can honestly answer the above questions and then look for patterns in your responses, you can start to imagine the possibilities. And if you have trouble answering some of the questions, ask your colleagues or creative friends to help you see yourself in a new light.

Networking Helps

Sometimes people think of networking as a way to get something that you want...in many cases people are in the mindset of -- I want a job. Or as a business owner -- I want a project.

Networking is also a research tool--a method for getting out to meet new people, learning about other career paths, exploring the world. If you are truly open to the possibilities, these networking experiences can truly open your eyes. Be an art teacher, go into advertising, write a book...other people may help push you in the right direction, a direction you never even considered before. And one person may say, you should talk to another, and that person will direct you to another, and so on and so on. All of a sudden you have a diverse network and you are thinking about your life in a whole new way.

The Moral of the Story

A design education provides a great foundation for a variety of career paths. While some of you may be driven to be a senior designer or principal in a design firm, others may be thinking they have no idea what to do with their degree. And with the world economy and job market changing on a daily basis, the clear goals you have for yourself may experience a few bumps in the professional road. The moral of this story is that you have options as long as you are true to yourself and remain open to the possibilities.

If you like the way we think and want to learn more, we plan on keeping this conversation going. Join us through our career building monthly newsletter! We feel blessed to have used our design degrees to create a career path that gives us personal and professional satisfaction on a daily basis. We want to help you find the same joy in your career journey. It is not easy, but trust us, it is well worth the hard work and dedication.

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Some News

Congratulations to the winners of the Council for Interior Design Accreditation [CIDA] 2013 Innovative Interior Design Education Award, which recognizes and celebrates innovative teaching and program-related practices that advance the cause of excellence in interior design education. First place went to Tilanka Chandrasekera, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Design, Housing, and Merchandising at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Associate Professor, Interior Design, at the University of Minnesota, and Deborah Schneiderman, Associate Professor, Interior Design, at Pratt Institute, were also recognized. GO HERE to learn more about the winners and view their entries.

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