29 September 2023

A Guide to Cruising up the Interior Design Career Ladder

What the best in the ID business do

If you’re reading this, then we’re betting good money you’re the type of person who casts a critical eye over every interior detail you see, whether you want to or not. It makes no difference if you’re in an office, a restaurant, or the corner shop, if you see something you don’t like, you start to clench your teeth. Come on, we know you do… just a little bit. If we’re correct, then you’ve got interior designer fever, you’ve got it bad, and there’s no cure.  

But this isn’t a terminal diagnosis, as interior design enthusiasm at this level is not only in your DNA, but, if it’s channeled in the right way, is a massive ID career advantage. 


So, for your pleasure, here’s mustard ID’s guide to some of the better habits to hone and paths to follow during your quest for interior design infamy. 


The first rung on the career ladder is, of course, getting the right qualifications under your belt. This is a biggie, and is officially regulated, so have a good look at the ‘training’ section of the BIID’s interior design guide by clicking here. To cut a very long explanation short, any interior design course needs to be recognised and accredited by the UK government. All ID courses are rigorously inspected and have to reach the same high standard, so students understand the level and quality of work they’ll be expected to submit. 


It’s also important to understand that in the UK, the job title ‘architect’ is a legally protected term, which means that only fully trained architects registered with the ARB can refer to themselves as either an ‘architect’ or ‘interior architect’. Significantly, this means that even if you graduate with an ‘interior architecture’ degree, unless you are an ARB registered architect, it’s illegal to practice as an ‘interior architect’. 

Even years after you’ve got your degree, if you’re a true professional, you’re just never going to stop learning. New materials and products hit the interiors’ marketplace almost daily, and techniques evolve alongside cutting-edge fashion and client needs. You’ll not only be on top of all of this, but eventually a part of the process, and likely dictating product demand. 

Beside this, your interpersonal skills will be such that you’re often the most charismatic person in the room. You’ll also be dogged in your determination and enthusiasm and will come up with solutions to the trickiest of issues. 

But what’ll make you truly stand out is by doing it like Madonna, via a constant shape-shifting of ideas. The best in the business make no secret of their fascination with what’s happening within the profession. They watch what other great designers are doing with different spaces, and how this is spreading onwards from the last trending focus. 

To break away from the flock, you’ll also be soaking up inspiration from everything, wherever you go. This may seem like a bit of a stretch while you’re speed walking through a damp underpass… but, just a minute – has that unique style of graffiti given you an idea for the bathroom of a converted factory apartment? For sure, it has.  


This simple act of trusting your own inspiration will turn you into an interior design trendsetter, rather than a blind and passionless fashion victim.  


This will inevitably lead you to keep creating new sets of colour palettes that will become the essence of your brand, and an unwritten signature on spaces you’ve touched.  

What you do with lighting will also rubber stamp your vision. It highlights how well you understand the space you’re working on, what it’s for, and the effect it’ll have on the mood of its inhabitants. 

All of this will be achieved with the help of the latest design technology. Know your software, and upgrade to the best you can afford, as often as you can. Walkthroughs in 3D aren’t just for clients. You can quickly turn all of your wildest fantasies into a digital reality, and then press delete if they don’t make the grade. The creations that’ll Wow! the clients can then be presented alongside traditional drawings for uber-professional posturing. 

Above all, never compromise on your passion for design, and accept that there’s always something new to learn.  

And if you’re just starting out? You’re never going to get better advice than this from interior design guru Howard Sullivan 

“Try anything and everything. Internships get a bad name but they’re a really good way to broaden your experience beyond your college work. Do your research on the company interviewing you and arrive prepared. Shuffle the order of the case studies in your portfolio to fit with the practice you are presenting to. It’s also always good to relate your work outwards by linking with current influential case studies to show that you understand the broader context of design. And don’t forget to do a couple of dry runs with a friend to get your presentation locked down.” 


If you follow Howard’s wise words you’ll soon be in a position to study the habits that work for the best in the biz, who’ll, in turn, be studying the best in the biz.   


Do we sound like we’re describing how you already work?

If so, first off, we haven’t been stalking you. Secondly, you’re good, and we need to chat. Our brilliant mustard ID team has head-turning job opportunities for the cream of interior design candidates, so give us a call. Our telephone hotline is 0117 929 6060.

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