An interior designer is a professional that furnishes living spaces that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. Interior designers may work for homeowners or for large corporations.
Their job may include revamping simple outdoor and indoor home environments or lavish mansions and hotels. Regardless of the size of the area, an interior designer works on, the primary objective of their job is to design spaces that are attractive, functional, and safe.
What Does An Interior Designer Do?
An interior designer has to satisfy the client’s needs. Their work should reflect a sound sense of colors and designs. They have to make sure what they are doing is stylish and does not hinder functionality.
Safety is also a major concern. They have to work on elements like lighting, artworks, floorings, and window treatments to achieve an overall look that satisfies the client in all aspects.
An interior designer can pursue many career paths. Every individual has a unique aesthetic sense and they can venture into any career path according to it, as long as they are happy with it. Types of interior designer jobs that are directly relevant to the interior designing degree are:
- Interior and Spatial Designer
- Exhibition Designer
- Production Designer
- Visual Merchandiser
Responsibilities of an interior designer depend upon the type of interior designer job. Responsibilities of each type of interior designer have been discussed ahead.
Interior Designer Job Options
1. Interior and Spatial Designer
Interior and spatial designing make use of architectural knowledge, creative design skills, and project management. Interior and spatial designers work on designing and renovating internal spaces. Their areas include lighting, furnishings, fixtures and fittings, color schemes, and structural alterations.
They may work in domestic, commercial or leisure settings. The primary objective of these designers is to make use of the space such that the area appears to be attractive and functional.
The responsibilities of the interior and spatial designer are:
- Discussing the client’s requirements in detail and acquiring all the basic information, developing initial ideas, and setting project schedules and timelines
- Understanding the needs of clients and the people using that space (domestic or commercial) to develop tentative designs and final project briefs
- Considering the costs of materials, analyzing the budget, and negotiating on the price accordingly
- Conduction of feasibility studies
- Research about the project and gathering any relevant pictures that may help in developing the final design
- Preparation of samples for presenting to the client to get their approval before moving ahead to implementation
- Sourcing all the products that will be required for the project including lighting, fittings and fixtures, decorations, and furniture and presenting samples to the client
- Preparation of detailed drawings of the layout, model, and the scheme using the CAD (computer-aided design) software
- Work in teams with other designers having different specialties
- Surveying buildings
- Supervising the work on site during the design stage
- Working in close coordination with architectures, other design professionals and surveyors to ensure the space is being utilized in the best possible manner
- Identifying new businesses and potential clients
- Staying up-to-date with designs, trends, and developments in the area of interior and spatial designing.
Salaries and Working Hours
Salaries of interior and spatial designers depend largely on the location and reputation of the clients. In high-profile projects, a high cost can be charged.
As for the working hours, one can expect flexibility. The role of the designer is integral to a larger construction and developmental process. Hence, one may have to work extra hours but not in well-defined shifts.
2. Exhibition Designer
Exhibition designing is suitable for someone who is highly skilled in designing, enjoys working in collaborations, and can meet strict deadlines.
An exhibition designer works on large, commercial-scale, public exhibitions, events, showcases, trade conferences, trade shows, and cultural exhibitions (for libraries, galleries, and museums). Working on temporary displays for retailers and businesses may also be a part of the job for an exhibition designer.
The job demands you to work on the creation of an exhibition that has aesthetic appeal and is practical enough. It will be your responsibility to communicate the message, image, and concept of the client to the customers through the design, doing all while staying in a budget.
The ideas that an exhibition designer presents are based on the requirements of the client and the interpretation of the idea that the client has in mind. Sometimes, the job may also involve supervising the implementation of all ideas and plans at the exhibition site.
The responsibilities of an exhibition designer depend upon the nature of the exhibition they are working on. In a commercial exhibition, the responsibilities of an exhibition designer are as following:
- Discussing the idea, theme, and the products that will be exhibited with the client
- Discussing the design ideas and concepts, finalizing the proposals and presenting them to the client
- Developing a sound understanding of the client’s brand, products, concept, objectives, and needs
- Creation of initial sketches, prototype/ models or 3D visuals of the design that is being proposed
- Designing a variety of possible designs and artworks for different exhibitions and displays
- Working on the cost of the project to ensure the project is financially feasible
- Attending meetings with the finance and sales departments to present the designs and the ideas and also to take briefs from respective departments
- Ensuring that the budget constraints are met
- Handling all orders that have been placed including those of electronics, and materials for site services
- Transporting the displays and any other exhibition material to the site and getting them installed. It is the responsibility of the exhibition designer to dismantle all installations after the exhibition has ended.
A designer who is working on a museum exhibition has the following responsibilities:
- Ensuring that all the material that has been prepared for the exhibition is aligned with the theme, history, and collections of the museum
- Ensuring that the exhibition is aligned with the conservative requirements of the museum
- Traveling to other museums and exhibitions to get a hold of the way things are to be done
- Working with other personnel of the museum including education, conservation, marketing, and the curator for outlining the plan and for supporting material
- Coordinating with the animatronics, audiovisual and graphic video designers to create a sensory experience for the visitors
Salaries and Working Hours
Salaries of exhibition designers depend upon the size of the company. A freelancer exhibition designer usually gets paid for each exhibition or per day.
As for the working hours, they are usually from 9 am to 5 pm. However, depending upon the workload, one might have to work extra hours or over the weekend.
3. Production Designer
To be a production designer, you got to be a creative powerhouse and have an excellent flair for visual arts. A production designer looks after the designing of sets, props, lighting, graphics, costumes, and camera angles for theatre, film, and television productions.
After agreeing upon a concept, an art department is appointed which include construction and design teams. In theatres, production designers may be called set or stage designers.
The responsibilities of a production designer are:
- Reading scripts thoroughly to identify factors that are indicative of a particular visual style
- Taking into consideration the production brief which may get documented or delivered verbally
- Producing design ideas based on research on art history, the background politics and historical information that supports the script
- Preparing and monitoring the budget
- Preparing scale drawings of the sets or studios
- Producing ideas for the costumes, graphics, special effects, and props
- Identifying the potential locations and studios
- Sourcing of appropriate materials that will be required during the course of designing
- Presenting the idea to the entire team including the camera operators and the actors
- Appointing and managing an art team
- Overseeing the construction of the set and instructing the construction company, special effects team, and scenic artists as per the plan
- Coordinating with the designers of the costumes and props to ensure they are following the initial design sketches
- Coordinating with photography and sound team to make sure the lighting and sound is as per the requirements
- Conducting progress meetings and attending rehearsals and filming to advise on presentation
- Monitoring the set and locations throughout the filming to make sure all requirements are met and maintained.
Salaries and Working Hours
A production designer is not an entry-level position. Those who get hired are either very experienced or had been part of a certain production house at a junior position, making their way up gradually.
Salaries for production designers working for high-end television drams and feature-films are higher than those working for theatres. Salaries also depend upon the nature and the number of projects you have worked on.
Working hours for production designers are extremely long and exhausting. You may end up working on weekends and also lead a very unsocial life as long as the projects are running.
4. Visual Merchandiser
A person suited for visual merchandise is one with a flair for brands and fashion. Having a sound understanding of presenting easy-to-buy looks to customers is also essential.
The job of a visual merchandiser involves the development, delivery, and communication of visual strategies and concepts for the promotion of services and products online, in-store or catalogs. A visual merchandiser may also work at galleries or museums to create visual strategies for different events.
Most of the times, visual merchandisers are employed in retail stores or head offices where they collaborate with other departments for the creation of strategies and promotional events. They work towards engaging, exciting, entertaining, and maintaining the target audience of a particular brand, agency, store, or gallery.
The responsibilities in this type of interior designer job are:
- Coordinating with different teams such as marketing, designing, and buying to prepare design plans and themes several months prior. These plans include window and in-store display ideas, signage, and pricing
- Researching on the current as well as the future market trend in designing industry
- Conducting meetings with marketing, business, and sales managers to discuss sales strategies
- Identifying the sources for props, lighting, fabric, and hardware
- Working on the budget and maintaining it. The job also includes negotiating with suppliers who are supplying visual materials
- Working with architectural teams to maximize the available space in a store
- Working on CAD (computer-aided design) software and others to create designs and visual effects and communicating these visual guidelines. The visual guidelines include layout plans, signage, and visual dressings
- Making store visits to coach in-store visual merchandising and ensure that the guidelines and the plan are being followed
- Assembling the visual displays in stores as well as dismantling them
- Conducting market surveys of other stores for comparative purposes and to be aware of what concepts other stores are working on
- Leading teams to meet deadlines
- Seeking customer feedback on the visual impact of all the material displayed
Salaries and Working Hours
Salaries of visual merchandiser depend on the size of the brand they are working on. Also, visual merchandisers are likely to get benefits such as company car, allowance for fuel and mobile phone. As far as working hours are concerned, they are about 35-40 hours a week.
Starting early in the morning and finishing late at night is extremely common. The job requires work to be done before the business opens. If complete store redesign is underway, overtime and overnight stays may be required.
The job of an interior designer is stressful and hectic. It demands a lot of mental work. Depending on the type of interior design job, one may be subjected to different levels of pressure.
The work dynamics, the employer demands, and the deadline pressure vary with the size of the company you are working with.
Non-interior design job ideas that use interior design skills
Many people these days work in jobs different and unrelated to what they trained for in school. In some cases, people make big career changes but move into different occupations that still use some skills learned in their previous job and training.
The same goes for interior designers. They can use their skills in different positions.
Here are some ideas for interior design job alternatives:
Freelance space digital designer
If you develop solid skills using various advanced architect design software, you can be a freelancer where you get hired to create digital designs.
Interior designer writer
Anyone with any particular type of knowledge and some writing skills can be a freelance writer. In fact, there has never been so many writing jobs with the explosion of online content. If you’re very good and build up a clientele, you can earn $.08 to $.40 per word.
When you get started, you’ll likely work for less but as you build up a clientele and able to work faster, you’ll earn more per word. FYI, to command more than $.12 per word, you must be very good or very good at landing high-paying clients.
Teach interior design
All interior designers with a degree or certification were taught by a teacher or teachers, right? That means once you have sufficient experience and/or education, you too can teach interior design. Teaching is a different kind of job but it’s pretty good at post-secondary levels.
Stagers fall under interior and spatial design, but I’m adding it here because it’s a concrete job option. Stagers help homeowners make their homes look better when listed for sale. This position relies extensively on interior design skills. It’s a growing industry and a relatively new industry.
Real estate agent
Real estate agents come from all walks of life. It’s a people-person job where interior designers may thrive by having the opportunity to work in homes.