Interior Designer Roles and Transitions




One thing seen in creative fields such as interior design is a transitioning of roles and careers aligned with the need to create – yet different. A person may start out in one area of expertise, get the training and pursue the career with all the enthusiasm and vigor necessary. Then they see how another peer in a different yet similar field is going about their business and think, “Well, I could do that – perhaps even better.” And so begins the transition. It’s easy to have this happen in interior design and decorating. That innate creative spirit gets a little bored. Creativity urges trying on new pursuits. That’s the nature of the beast.


A typical scenario is the person who is naturally gifted with the ability to paint. They get asked to paint murals and are thrilled to get that first job and influence the ambiance of a dining room and have their work on continuous display. They get noticed by an interior designer and go on to do more work with them. The artist even transitions into painting scenes on ceilings. Then the day comes where their body starts protesting. Their work is strenuous and joint stressing. The interior designer they are working with becomes more difficult to work with and the artist, inwardly, finds fault with the designer’s methods and taste. Dissatisfaction, stress and looking for a new solution is solved by the artist thinking she could design and take on easier jobs as an artist and begins to put herself forward in that role. Over time she collects her sources and materials and becomes the designer full time.

Another scenario is the sole proprietor workroom owner. She does great window treatments and even upholsters. She understands the engineering and has the sources to solve so many problems. She uses social marketing and allies herself with ambitious interior designers. With the influence and seeing how the designers create rooms and how much help they need to understand costs and what is feasible, she begins to see how she could do it better. She ups her contacts in the marketplace and voila, puts herself forth as a designer.

The interior designer who got their education and certification, spending six years training and interning then taking a very challenging test still steps into a career path that is publicly fuzzy. Those who keep up with the trends in business and eventually build a firm must be frustrated by others who transition into the field through other doors and label themselves “Interior Designer”. They are protected by law in only some states and must obtain a license to practice. They are still often limited in their capacity to offer services in which they are already qualified. After all their training, many states do not give them permission to obtain building permits or execute non-structural alterations. They would need an engineer or architect for that. The public who wants interior facelifts with color, fabrics and furnishings will enlist a non licensed decorator just as easily based on their “taste”, ideas and personality. The field is fraught with those who never dipped their toes into the International Building Code to understand what constitutes structural safety, codes and licensing and are not qualified to offer advice on finishes, renovation etc. etc. .   The future can be fuzzy  for interior designers. There are older more established factions such as architects who want the licensing and permits to stay within their domain. The professional designer is definitely a creative person but having spent the amount of time and money to establish their career path and include the additional education required will more often keep them anchored to the  path they established in the beginning.  Their transitioning will only be within how they brand their individual firm.  With even their own industry being divided on legislation to protect their field, it is still a conundrum as to where the future of the design field will go.

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