Interior design is the one constant that I continue to be interested in and find myself day dreaming about since I first saw Trading Spaces on TLC at the age of 15. Granted, by now my ideas of interior design have shifted and my taste has grown a bit more sophisticated. I've spent the last 8 years in typical office environments and while I love my stable, well-paying job and have no intention of going anywhere, I am aware that there are options for someone like me. Mostly, I'm aware that there are a lot of people like me. A lot of people who took one career path and later realized they should have gone another way. I think most people believe it is too late - they lost their chance and should just keep on trucking in whatever role they find themselves in currently. I felt this way, too, until this year. This year, I'm pursuing something that felt out of reach.
I was so pumped to begin my research on the different schools in the SF Bay Area that offered Interior Design degrees. My spirits were high and the excitement for what was to come pushed me forward. After digging in further, I sadly became a bit overwhelmed. I wasn't overwhelmed by the multitude of options for schools (there were really only 2 or 3 in my area), I was overwhelmed by the coursework, the timeline and the end goal.
If you want to study interior design, you first have to ask yourself how you will use the degree or certification. Do you want to work for a big design firm? Do you want to do residential or maybe commercial design? Will you benefit from attending an accredited CIDA program or taking the NCIDQ exam? For me, as soon as I started marinating in those questions, I quickly decided I didn't want to work for a design firm - I want to work on smaller, more personal projects. I am interested in both residential and commercial design - but, I don't want to choose! And finally, I for sure don't want to take an exam - I'm done with school, thanks. All of these hesitations and reservations I was feeling around going back to school led me to realize there had to be another way. Curious, I researched many of my favorite designers to see how they got to where they are (more to come on this!). Yes, some went to design school and did the whole shebang - I assume those were the wise ones who followed their instincts off the bat. But then there were the ones who fought to get where they are simply by connecting with the right people and projects which each led to the next opportunity until they were able to sustain something on their own. All of these trajectories had their own struggles, I'm sure, and I expect the same struggles as I begin to dig deeper. I have my own fears and doubts - of which there are probably enough to do a single post on - but I push forward with the idea that maybe I can do this without going back to school.
With all of this being said - what is my plan? Where do I actually start? As an executive assistant, my go-to is to create a project plan with a timeline documenting which goals, skills and tasks I would like to accomplish along with all my resources. If I'm looking at this in terms of school, I should have a curriculum, a guide, a plan, a 'Student Will Be Able To.' I looked at various Interior Design degrees at multiple schools (usually schools attended by the designers I love) and the classes that make up the certificate or degree. I pulled together my own curriculum based on that research and will try to follow it in my own way. I will focus on what those classes are teaching, but I will try to learn using the resources available to me. In some cases, I can't do it alone and will need to take a class. I'm more than willing to shell out the cost for a one-off class if it will propel me forward and instill the knowledge necessary to continue. My first draft curriculum will help me navigate through this process and ensure I'm focusing on the areas that will help me learn and grow as a designer. As with anything, this is a work in progress.
My curriculum is broken down into levels. Many of the curricula I researched began with a Foundation Level and then moved from Level One (sometimes Semester One, etc) all the way to the Portfolio stage where the students were completely immersed in real design work with real design teams. I will start by revealing my plans for the Foundation Level. This is where I will learn the basics and lay the 'foundation' for what is to come. It was important for to me to link my sources as many of these key words and course titles are derived from real curricula. I will slowly but surely focus in on a course or a topic of study until I feel I have been successful at the Foundation Level and am ready to move on to Level One.
|Course||Topics of Study|
|Principles of Interior Design|| - Scale, Proportion, Light, Circulation and Progression
- Interdependence of Space and Form
- Color, Materials and Texture
- Design Theory, Vocabulary and Psychology
- Human Element in Design and Sustainable Design
- Design Decisions around Function, Aesthetics and Expressive Needs
|Historical Styles I|| - Furniture, Interiors and Architecture from Ancient World through 1820
- Development of Major Forms, Period Styles and Ornament
- Man-Built Environments as Influenced by Geographical Location, Social, Religious, Economic and Political Forces of Each Period
- Major Monuments in terms of Function, Symbolism, Methods of Fabrication, Style, Use of Color, and Significance
|Two-Dimensional Design / Visual Communication|| - Composition and Design, Contour and Line, Proportion and Scale, Plan and Section, Form and Space, Tone and Shadows
- Plane, Shape, Pattern, Value, Texture, Color, Balance, Rhythm
- Visual Organization, Placement of Elements and Architectural Vocabulary
- Figure-Ground Relationships, Color Interaction, Perpetual Skills, Sensitivity, Creative Awareness and Technical Ability
|Drafting + Rendering for Interiors|| - Construction Drawing, Floor and Ceiling Plans, Layouts with Dimensions and Notations, Presentation Renderings
- Bubble Diagrams, Block Plan, Adjacency Requirements, Layout Sketches, Elevations and Sections, 3D and 1- and 2- Point Perspectives
- Color Media, Color Pencil, Watercolor, Computer Paint and Photo Retouch Software
- Final Application of Light, Shade and Shadows
- ADA Codes and Clearance Requirements, Required Circulation and Exit Paths
Each of these topics of study - whether combined or looked at individually - will render a unique opportunity for me to go in search of the lesson at hand. I don't have it all planned out right now - scary, I know - but, I feel confident this process will come naturally as I expand my network in the space and uncover the intricacies of each element.
But first, before we officially dig in to the Foundation Level, can I point out that I did quite a bit of research leading up to this post and that research most definitely should not go to waste? I feel it only makes sense to reveal this research via a review on a few of my favorite designers, their work and what led them to their current standing in the design world. If they can do it, so can I. Right? Tell me I'm right.