Define your career. If you are a doctor, you diagnose and treat people’s ailments. If you are a hairdresser, you cut, color, perm and style the hair. If you are a police officer, you follow the law, investigate crimes, and generally protect the citizens of the district in which you work. Almost anyone can at least briefly describe most careers. If you have one of those races, you are very lucky.
Before entering the workforce and opening my own design firm, I never would have guessed that I would get calls to fix curtains, remove carpet stains, find out why a light bulb in a chandelier wouldn’t work … I’m an interior designer – design interiors; but I can recommend a seamstress, a carpet cleaning company, an electrician … Then the dreaded question arises: “What do you mean by interior design?”
I once thought it was an easy question to answer. Somehow, it is now easier for me to explain to a child why the grass is green.
Instead of trying to define interior design, I have dedicated myself to explaining the interior design process.
I analyze, ask questions, draw, review the budget, draw some more while asking more questions. Slowly, what started out as sketches turned into floor plans and other technical drawings. Some of the drawings are colored. I help my clients make informed decisions regarding the use of space, materials, products, color, lighting, design, construction methods, other professionals … The drawings / plans then go to contractors and specialist contractors. I review the shipping process with my clients – one shipment is higher, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because others are missing things. A contractor is selected, the contract is signed, and work begins; I will be there routinely while work is in progress. I basically act as a representative on behalf of my clients, as well as a protector of my own design. The schedules are reviewed frequently, the problems that arise are handled in such a way that my clients can later know the solution, but not the headache of understanding and solving the problem. The work is ending, only the finishing touches remain but I am already preparing a list of things that need to be finished, repaired or touched up.
What had been a noisy, dirty and smelly construction site has now fallen silent and has already been cleaned up. I walk looking and examining the life-size and life-size drawings of all the drawings that I made weeks, if not months ago. Back in the office, I edit the list of deficiencies started a few days before and send it to the contractor and clients. The work is soon completely finished, but my work is not finished yet.
My clients call, happy with the finished space. There are some last minute questions about the maintenance of some of the new items, where to find certain decorations and accessories that suddenly matter, the location of these items, etc.
About two months later, those customers are likely to call back. The voice on the other end sounds a bit annoyed or even a bit scared. The tile grout is cracked in one area of a wall. It’s probably just because everything has had time to settle; I’ll stop by to see it and then get in touch with the contractor.
Define my career. I am an interior designer. I am an analyst, artist, educator, questioner, project manager, site supervisor, buyer, space planner, specifier, decorator, technician, draftsman, problem solver …
But can I help a client plan an outdoor project? Can I design a cabin or gazebo for a client’s patio? Can I design custom furniture or lighting? Working with other professionals to provide technical drawings for things that do not fall within the scope of an interior designer? Do you work with clients and your real estate agent to assist in selecting the perfect home or commercial space to meet their needs? Provide consultation services to DIYers? Manage the expansion of a building? Do you work on both new construction and renovations? Are you planning to expand or relocate a kitchen or bathroom? Do I know the building code? Can I help obtain renewal permits from the municipality? Design spaces for the use of people with physical disabilities? … Yes, and more.
Quickly, I sometimes describe interior design as the race that bridges the gap between architect and decorator, but the precision of that statement is something that even I have debated. So I am still without a solid definition of my own career.