Part 3: QUESTIONS every interior design student should ask WHEN LOOKING FOR YOUR FIRST JOB

There are so many questions interior design students and recent graduates have. Well I’ve found a wonderful source that taps into a wealth of knowledge that I am so excited to share it with you.

The Interior Design Community (IDC) is a social media network just for interior design professionals. Their mission “is to connect designers and give them a space to get advice from their peers, to find information about products, to support them through the difficult situations they face day to day”.

This series of articles highlights some of the best questions and answers for design students and those just graduating.  Part 1 is geared towards student internships and mentoring, Part 2 answers questions for recent graduates looking for employment in a design office and Part 3 addresses what it’s like for up and coming designers in the industry.

The question is:

I just finished school last semester and have been looking for a job as a designer. I have been on some interviews but I have not gotten hired yet. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. Can you ask what designers look for when they add someone new to their team?”

I just finished school last semester and have been looking for a job as a designer. I have been on some interviews but I have not gotten hired yet. I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. Can you ask what designers look for when they add someone new to their team?”

Meredithheron: I always look to hire my weaknesses. I’m not interested in hiring someone who wants to be me – I don’t need that competition. I know my strengths but I also know what I find tedious and dull and look to hire people who possess those as strengths so we can come together as a powerhouse.

Ricallison: That they own it like their own. And can embellish rather than squash. Large egos have no place. Nor does entitlement.

Simplesquaredesign: I feel it’s just as important to know why one gets a job and why one does not. It is a hard truth, but may help one realize what to do better or skills to improve upon. Another aspect I’ll like to share with current design students is to intern before graduating. Don’t wait until you finish school to find a job. Have your school help with job hunting/placement. Sometimes the school may learn from your interviewer what went “wrong” and should share that information with you. Good luck and stay strong. The right job will always come along.

Hudsonhome: I need partners who don’t mind MANAGING ME and taking the work off my plate that I don’t find inspiring. It’s also important to have impeccable language skills (no sloppy emails to clients allowed!). My job is to run the business, manage clients, cultivate new business, and keep design plans in sharp focus.

Thelovecrime: Real passion for work, technical skill, ability to take the hard days with the good ones. No ego. No embellishing one’s experience and abilities. Easy going, and someone who wants to work with other to achieve a goal. Biggest short coming in recent graduates that I have had, they don’t realize how tedious the work is, they want to do concept but not day to day, can’t take constructive criticism, and don’t respect how much responsibility we have for often the largest purchase a person will make in their life. You have to have respect for your role and your clients. And you have to love hours and hours and hours of computer time. 😉

Thelovecrime: oh and patience. Great careers are not built in a month or even 12. Social media really feeds the story that you need to be an overnight success, and I know literally no one in design who was. It’s hard work, it can be demoralizing, frustrating, stressful. But if the end result is worth it to you, then it’s a good career choice. The burnout rate is high in design. Clients often don’t realize how hard they are being when they change their minds a million times etc. and contractors, some can be very difficult and not willing to go the distance with design details.

Kbdesignseattle: For someone fresh out of school, you need to be ready to learn. Ready to soak up the experience that schools do not give. Design skills are somewhat less important than the ability to keep positive attitude and pick up odd tasks from the shoulders of others. Before everyone believe that you can design you need to make them believe that they can work with you. And I do not mean brining coffee to superior, I mean we all do non designing work. Do not be offended when part of it comes your way. As you cannot yet generate new business, or guide client to a direction….

ambience_inspired_interiors: I had an assistant that didn’t end up possessing the confidence to bring her ideas, be creative, be original, and collaborate with me. She was always looking to me for direction. It was fine at first, since she was new and wanted to please, but be ready to find your wings and be mentored, work hard (no “poor me” people!!! You have to WORK at this!) and be passionate – it will show! People who aren’t self-starters probably won’t last long!

rizwan_architect: The first 6 to 10 months it’s the boss that invests in the newcomer because all they have is a degree but no experience of the REAL WORLD. They have to be humble, hardworking, creative and organized and first of all be very sure which design firm they want to work with and agree with their design philosophies

jccrossdesign: I haven’t reached the point of hiring on yet, but when I do I will be looking for these attributes: confidence, not the false kind but honest, sincere confidence that allows them to push through complicated tasks and ask questions when they need to. Attitude is important because having a positive attitude allows them to get through the tough times without overly dramatizing them or undermining its importance. And lastly I think integrity is key, I live by the integrity of who I am and how I act both personally and at work, so I need to be surrounded by others who place importance on their integrity as well. It’s the fiber we are woven from and helps us to decipher how to make good decisions, from how to make poor decisions. I need that on my team.

Judithharrop: A busy design office is wary of being distracted from projects by the needs of new staff. At interview let them know how much you know, that you can hit the ground running, initiative is so important, even if it means you tidying up and making tea. We all muck in and do it but when under pressure having a new team member around who can just get on is brilliant. Again at interview don’t bang on about how much this practice can help you, how much you want to learn from it, these points are valid and show your eagerness to learn but the bottom line is how much can you bring to the practice, how can you make everyone’s life easier. The lesser drain on other’s time initially will mean you become part of the team quickly. Then you can begin your own development as you have the team’s trust. Its business!

Reginasturrock: Whether the applicant is a seasoned designer or fresh out of school, they must have passion! I can recognize it instantly! Do they light up when they talk about their work? It’s an attribute that drives greatness and that gets you through the difficult times. We all know that this is a high-pressure job! And it’s not just about the polished portfolio or great CAD skills. I look for an innate understanding of balance, scale, proportion, harmony…those things that bring beauty into design. It’s surprising to me how many are lacking the fundamentals. I believe today’s tools, as useful as they are, are also a creative crutch. Whatever happened to hand-sketching and good architectural penmanship? My interview process is a two-tiered one; the initial interview that touches base on qualifications, personality, and aspirations and the second interview that hones into what the designer is made of. I prepare an in-studio design assessment that is, in and of itself, relatively basic, but that gives me a clear picture of where the strengths and weaknesses are. It’s amazing how much I can learn. I take the hiring process very seriously. It’s a big commitment to bring in a new team member.

paradigm_texas: I cannot stress the importance of excellent communication skills. To be able to clearly communicate ideas and questions so that you are efficient and effective. People skills are equally important. If you are timid or insecure, this is not the industry for you. Passion and aesthetic sensibility should be a given and physical drawing skills are so appreciated. If you have to drag out your computer and start clicking your way through images time can sometimes be wasted, but if you can pull out a pen and pad and begin to explain the process as you draw in front of your client, you will be amazed at how they light up! Organization! You must also have personality and be able to handle criticism.

Part 2: QUESTIONS every interior design student should ask UPON GRADUATION

There are so many questions interior design students and recent graduates have. Well I’ve found a wonderful source that taps into a wealth of knowledge that I am so excited to share it with you.

The Interior Design Community (IDC) is a social media network just for interior design professionals. Their mission “is to connect designers and give them a space to get advice from their peers, to find information about products, to support them through the difficult situations they face day to day”.

This series of articles highlights some of the best questions and answers for design students and those just graduating.  Part 1 is geared towards student internships and mentoring, Part 2 answers questions for recent graduates looking for employment in a design office and Part 3 addresses what it’s like for up and coming designers in the industry.

The 5 questions are:

  1. How did you get your first client
  2.  We want to know a general idea of how much design assistants mak
  3. Are professional design associations and organizations worth the investment? What are some of the things you like or dislike about them?
  4. I’ve studied in design and worked in it for over 6 years but i don’t have nciq or apdiq certifications. Was wondering if those who took it, if it was worth it?”
  5.  Is sexism still a problem in the interior design industry?

1. How did you get your first client? I advertised way back in a local magazine

maciainteriors: A friend trusted and believed in my skills. Forever grateful

dalecarithers: A referral from someone I met at an event and we started following each other on social media.

Webbsmithinteriors: At a cocktail party! Met a business owner who was expanding. We bid the job, did a vision session and nailed it!

Kristykaydesign: My neighbor

Jessicaboudreaux: Craigslist actually and she was a great client!

Interiorsbyjustdesign: It was through another interior designer they were busy and they wanted to stay local was a great first client for me

Fitteddesigns: A true friend trusted me and understands my passion for interior designing and introduced me to her Sister’s in-law . I did a fantastic job and used most of the pictures for my beginner presentation which fetched me lot of clients afterwards. @funke_s thanks a bunch for being such a wonderful friend

Davidwdesign: My First Client is my Dentist & asked to me to Design his office which ended up being two properties side by side valued $2.5 million Reno Design. & yeah I was a whole lot nervous 😬

Vividinteriors: My first client came from Craigslist. Crazy enough I actually found some great clients and projects on there 😉

Abuelapeaz: It was a friend’s first apartment in NYC…he’s still one of my biggest advocates. I wish I could hire him to do my PR! 😂

Ricallison: Teachers/professors hired me ASAP

2. Is sexism still a problem in the interior design industry?

lala_takes_pics: Weeeeelllll….yes. I find I just expect it so much from trades that I (sadly) just think of it as normal.

Shapirojoyalstudio: Yes

winklepie_pics_life: Yes, to a point! But being strong minded and knowing what your talking about changes their mind 😆🤗

jjonesdesignco: Yes. Many interior design firms I know tend to hire women over men. That’s why you see so few male interior designers for these firms. 🙁 I believe in equality.

kendrakaydesignI was the only female in the design firm I originally worked in- only males were hired

tawnaallred: Definite yes from the construction trades. However, even though my voice is quiet, I stick to my guns and they finally realize I’m not someone to mess with. Finding friendlier crews makes the difference between a fun job and jobs from hell.

chinoiserie_galore: Honey, Sexism is still a problem in ANY industry..PERIOD!

calebrhodes23: As a Builder its our responsibility to lead everyone on the job site to abandon stereotypical ideas of what a Designer should look like and talk like. We don’t allow our crews to have bad attitudes around designers, Architects, or owners. The more eyes on a project, the better! After all, we are here for them.

Kristynschultz: Yes. I work in the architecture/interior design field as a draftsperson and my firm appears to make an attempt at equality but sexism definitely plays a major role.

Victoriatuckerinteriors: Hmmm, If I were a foot taller and were a Mr., I wonder if trades would hear me the first time… For me, truthfully, the trades are usually wonderful. It’s getting the builders and site foremen to thoughtfully consider my input beyond specs and color schemes.

victoriatuckerinteriors@interiordesigncommunity: Sometimes ideas come up, small changes would improve design or function, but builders will have the mindset of “it’s fine like it is, don’t mention to homebuyer.” I’m not referring to expensive change orders, just tweaking. I feel like less of a teammate when timeline or the easy way wins over my fine tuning on a job. I, too, am vested in the timeline and profitability. The fine details are why I’m there. I don’t like being made to feel like I need to be a “quiet, obedient girl.” I may not know all the framing code, but for damn sure I can spot a dozen things that will make the home a joy or a nuisance at a glance. Not sure if it would be different if I were a man, or if I wasn’t ‘only the designer.’

3. Are professional design associations and organizations worth the investment? What are some of the things you like or dislike about them?

ajc_design: ASID was a waste of money for me. The events weren’t strong in NYC. I get more out of NEWH a nonprofit organization and IIDA.

Simplesquaredesign: It depends. It is worth it from a national perspective as a recognizable name like a brand (same reason people prefer brand names for goods), but most importantly is what the local chapter does – speaker, Lunch & Learn, study groups, etc.

Lauraboisvert: Nope. No one even knows what they mean. And they don’t care. They care about your portfolio and whether your personality and theirs hit it off when meeting. Business is about selling and closing deals. You’re either a good salesman or you’re not.

Mdorydesigns: For national organizations, it depends on the chapter. I personally would like to see IIDA and ASID combine. There is more than enough advocacy work and consumer education/marketing to be done to keep both current national offices busy.

Interiordesigncommunity: I do think the right organization can bring you closer… Designing can be pretty solitary and it helps to check in with peers when you have a question or issue… I’m not sure if the big organizations are giving updated info or not. What WOULD be helpful to you?

lauraboisvert: I don’t need organizations to connect with peers. I don’t believe in paying money to network. It’s counterintuitive. I build relationships with all my contacts and peers when we text daily, or meet for coffee or breakfast on occasion. These are people I met on my own time by calling them or emailing and saying “hey, I would like to meet you!” Cause of Twitter or their website-Or people I work with on a regular basis.

catherine_mcroberts: I would guess between $12 & 25/ hour!

Nataliereddell: Mine makes $20/hour. She just started and I live in Richmond, VA.

Jedijanuary: I pay mine $17 w/ medical & dental benefits. designer and decorator assistant. Hope it helped.

Serenitydesign: I have two , my junior assistant was getting 42000 with a raise coming up , but he wanted 50 so now he’s gone

Houseofdietrich: 17 per hr here in Boston. 42k with benni’s would likely be the highest I would go to and they would need to be very self motivated and efficient at that rate.

Megmichele: $15 / hr plus benefits…. In North FL.

Officialkellyoneal: The sky is the limit in this industry, but you have to have a very good work ethic to achieve top $’s. I’ve always included commission incentives as the billable hours and placement aspects of the trade are the bottom line.

Mjgdf: NOT ENOUGH! Lol.

brandnyuAZ: approx$10-$15/hr for design assistant. Up to $20/hr for an over the top one. No benefits.

4. What is the salary range for an interior designer in your area?

playworksdecorApproximately $15,960 yearly 😳omg!

tawnaallredIf: I can get my earnings in the 40K range it is a good year. I’ve had years around 7K. #justbeinghonest. I am very rural though and know I am fighting a different battle than many others.

kristin_emily31I: just started post college with a small commercial and residential firm here in CT at 40k but they don’t have any benefits. In undergrad the average salary was 45k in early 2000’s 😯 we totally need to come together we designers are worth more !! Also I know 40k sounds nice but in CT it is really not much at all especially with no benefits and student loans and a wedding 😖😖😖

jwana2021: 64k per year excluding bounces Doha Qatar. I work for real estate developer

jsbeauchampdesign: 65$ to 175$ an hour (can). + % sometimes from what I have gathered

tawnaallred@amare.housedesign: I think I have my prices in the right spot, but the jobs are so few and far between. I average 1-3 design jobs a year and it has been that way since I started 8 years ago. Sometimes one job will be 40K. Most are 3-5K, one room deals (usually kitchens when people get in over their heads).

Omforme: In my area, designers make anywhere between $90-$200hr with an average of $135hr overall. Of course there are a few superstars that make more. But question is how do you define success? Some designers are part time and others are voracious in their goals. Wouldn’t that determine your success quotient?

5. I’ve studied in design and worked in it for over 6 years but I don’t have NCIQ or APDIQ certifications. Was wondering if those who took it, if it was worth it?”

Jillkalmaninteriors: If you want to do commercial design or in residential if you want to redesign – moving walls etc and be responsible for construction then yes-

Meredithheron: Cities have different codes of what will and won’t pass and these are always changing.

Weaferdesign: I took the NCIDQ, the company I was working for paid for it at the time. If licensing happens in my state I would be qualified in. I think it validates your profession, because you deal with life safety codes. The difference between a decorator and a designer.

Meredithheron: In Toronto we need a BCIN Number to stamp drawings. City course. We prefer to run our drawings past our architectural draftsman who has had his BCiN for decades as he has an in at the city. Our drawings get reviewed before submission and we can make revisions at no additional cost should the be required. Knowing the code as we do we still have the craziest of city loopholes to overcome. Each inspector has their own “must haves”. I’ve seen many accredited designers spin their wheel up against the city despite the letters after their names.

Designlineworks: I think it all depends on which lane you are in. If you want to work in commercial, yes. For residential not always. I don’t care what they call me so long as they call me.

Klyndsay: The majority of provincial Interior Design associations (such as ARIDO) require members to complete their NCIDQ within a certain number of years after registering as an intern member. Once you pass NCIDQ you can become a registered member and use the term ‘Interior Designer’ as per the titles act. They are trying to protect the industry from people who loosely use the term and getting credit for it. I personally think it’s a valuable exam especially for young professionals because it covers all aspects of interior design not just universal codes.

Interiordesignsbytracy: @domooredesigns to learn more in depth the national building codes, and also in commercial design some clients demand for that.

Domooredesigns: @interiordesignsbytracy the NCDIQ tests you knowledge. Do you have a design degree? If you want to do commercial design or work for a firm then yes, most require you to be certified.

Interiordesignsbytracy: @domooredesigns yes I do have a design degree, I’ve done 4 commercial projects. But I feel for restaurant design clients always ask!

Delointeriors: Yes, definitely worth it in my opinion! We have the titles act in Ontario and it allows you to call yourself and Interior Designer. If you don’t take it your considered an Intern Interior Designer until you qualify.

adg_lights: it is worth understanding the difference between design and decorating, business and support that the trades provide to support the designers ideas…. a certificate is just wall art otherwise.!

Teresammorgandesigns: Absolutely!!

Slshomeinteriors: I think any time you have the opportunity to strengthen and broaden your skills through education, it’s a win for everyone involved – no matter what path you choose: advanced degrees or further accreditations.

Liddlelizzie: Yes! It speaks to your professionalism.

Allisongambadesign: I think it is good to have but not necessary. I got my start in this business by renovating and flipping homes in my town, I was on Wall Street and did the designs on the side and had my architect draft construction plans. I went to school at night to further my skills but in order to take the exam I need more credits. I have a BSBA from a major university so to get a full interior design degree is a waste for me because I already have an undergrad. I have now transitioned to do this full time and just don’t have the time at this point to fit in the schooling. I think if you don’t have it you should really align yourself with educated people and use them for the areas that you are unsure of. I have learned a ton from my architect, contractor, and even from the local trade showroom that I source furniture from. Someday I will get my license but for now, I have yet to have a client who asks for it.

Part 1: QUESTIONS every interior design student should ask WHILE IN SCHOOL

There are so many questions interior design students and recent graduates have. Well I’ve found a wonderful source that taps into a wealth of knowledge that I am so excited to share it with you.

The Interior Design Community (IDC) is a social media network just for interior design professionals. Their mission “is to connect designers and give them a space to get advice from their peers, to find information about products, to support them through the difficult situations they face day to day”.

This series of articles highlights some of the best questions and answers for design students and those just graduating.  Part 1 is geared towards student internships and mentoring, Part 2 answers questions for recent graduates looking for employment in a design office and Part 3 addresses what it’s like for up and coming designers in the industry.

The 6 questions are:

1 What do you wish you learned at design school to prepare you for a career?

2 Have you ever had a bad mentor?

3 Do kitchen designers make more money than interior designers? Is it better to have a specialty?

4 What are your favorite design apps?

5 What skills does a modern design intern need to have?

6 We know some fantastic self-taught designers as well as those who attended design school. Should you have a design education to call yourself an interior designer?

 The questions and their answers included in this series are just are a fraction of the inquiries and replies on the site. For additional questions and the responses check out

  1. What do you wish you learned at design school to prepare you for a career?

Monetmasters: Business. Design is only 20%.

sudasistudio: Business & pricing

spaces_by_design@sudasistudio I agree 100%!!

Thriftychicmcm: Business!

Thatsyourqdesign: How to give my clients verbal smackdowns when they get cra cra.👊🏾

Jillseale: Business practices and negotiation. Always a good idea for people –especially those who love what they do and would do it for nothing.

apro_arch: business and material sourcing.

Slshomeinteriors: A few more psychology classes

Gruvercooleyinteriors: I wish they focused more on budgeting (mainly this) and also custom furniture.

Marbe:  how to deal with subs/workers/installers. It can be a nightmare especially when you are not only the designer but wearing other hats like contractor, superintendent, etc. It is crazy. I don’t think there is a book or a way to teach that.

kenziemac907: Self marketing

shakah_design: Revit

rbrennerl7325: How to charge the client without giving away your ideas!! 😞

robinsoninteriors: It seems like most designers know almost nothing about custom draperies after design school. It’s an important part of the process!!

timothy.kempf: That it isn’t all Cosmo’s, cocktail parties and gallery openings. Design is hard, HARD work. Often when I pass other designers in the hallways of our design center, loaded down with chic bags full of memo’s, or when we are loading carpet boards or wallpaper books into our respective cars, I will look, smile and say, “Remind me again about how glamorous our jobs are…

gordonandjohnsondesign: How to sell! Need more on this in school. If you can’t sell your design, you’re going to starve! Learning the various personality types and how to sell to each type is invaluable!

  1. Have you ever had a bad mentor?

Notannak: YES. The trick is to learn from them anyway. A bad mentor can still teach you soooo much. Mine has shown me exactly how I DON’T want to run a business, how important it is to remain honest, and that money is NOT the reason we do what we do. bad mentors can also make us so much stronger. Designers need strong backbones and thick skin and that is what my “bad” mentor has given me.

ilona_karneyenka: I think every experience is good for you, because you learn from it. The same is with mentors.

Ericcrook: YES. It nearly kept me from continuing in the design field.. I did however learn a lot about what not to do and how not to treat those around you. Money isn’t everything. Kindness, compassion and true sincerity are what is important in all aspects of life including running a successful interior design business.

Designerlebrity Fantastic question and yes I have. Still always a learning experience. Also makes for a great moment to share stories about both personally and publicly.

Jayaredrose: Any mentor is still subject to human behavior which may not always be respectful, inclusive or ethical. Evolving is a continuous process happening through a lifetime. Try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I will say as a teacher to young designers, the mentorship is a two person relationship. I learn from my students everyday as they learn from me. Abusive mentorship is never acceptable and a signal to move forward to the next learning opportunity, both as mentor and student. Relationships may have tough moments but they are rarely all or nothing. Take what works for you and leave the rest. Keep your focus forward and spread the design love regardless how folks respond.

  1. Do kitchen designers make more money than interior designers? Is it better to have a specialty?

interiordesigncommunity@dannyrusso I thought this was kind of tricky because I do not many kitchen and bath designers but many interior designers do kitchen and bath also.

torrentekitchenBoth are necessary

designbuildbrooklynI specialized in kitchen and bath design before becoming a contractor. In my case, it did help because it’s a bit more technical, and people in my target area were using architects but didn’t have a budget for interior design.

designbuildbrooklyn@interiordesigncommunity Yes!! I wanted to be able to have more control of my designs throughout the build process, and I’m such a hands on person, that it was a natural transition for me. Also, clients appreciate the “one stop shopping” that I’m able to offer. Not to mention I make more $$ 😊

susanserrackd@dannyrusso Curious, what do you mean that they are the same?

tawnaallredI am mostly on the construction part of design. Kitchens are my favorite thing to design, along with the bones of a home. I think it’s more stressful and projects take longer. My most profitable jobs happen when clients purchase furniture, but many don’t get that far. I’m thinking that it’s not when you consider time, but I do believe we will be the ones to survive this period of “market upset”. Our services can’t be commoditized like furniture.

interiordesigncommunity@tawnaallred That is so true. Kitchen Design is probably seen as the more stable of the two. I hadn’t considered that.

northshirelivingHaving been both separately and now both together – I would say people are more willing to pay for your design work as an interior designer than a kitchen designer where people expect it to be rolled into the kitchen….

tristatekitchensThere are independent kitchen designers, who work more like interior designers. Kitchen designers that sell cabinetry, earn an income through the sale as well. With our company the kitchen designers are ones with lots of experience and work on a salary+ commission basis, without the headache of finding clients. There are lots of details & practicality aspects in addition to looks when it comes to kitchens. Sometimes clients bring along their hired interior designers, who sometimes make it easier & sometimes harder to get to a final working design


laura_abrams_designMaybe if you have a general contractors license and you are overseeing the whole project and making a profit on the cabinetry, etc.

dannyrusso@susanserrackd interior design is all about kitchen and bath design. At least in my world. Yes there are specific KBIS designers but I think any designer should be able to execute all interior spaces. Just my opinion. 🤷🏻‍😎🖤

susanserrackd@dannyrusso Thank you for clarifying. Got it!

tradedgedesignsI love doing kitchens and baths!!! In my experience it’s a toss up. Because it’s depends on overall budget. There’s been a few projects I’ve done last year that were profitable that weren’t kitchen design. However I did a gut kitchen design and that was my biggest project ever on my own. I did a large living room and my clients budget was expansive; that was fun! It’s all in the budget.

divinedesign_interiordesignNot in ireland! Interior designers do everything.

kimberleyseldonWe do it all and we are more profitable in other rooms because there is frequently more fabric, area carpets and artwork.


aimeeleonidodesign@alibrookedesign ?

marycurtainladyNot sure if they always make more money, but the employment rate of our Kitchen and Bath Design grads is almost 100%. The future’s so bright 😎

yssinteriordesignDitto @tomsamet.

carolinemccade@antoninadmagggg this is a great page for you to follow! They ask a lot of great questions with open discussion. 😉

antoninadmagggg@carolinemccade thank you!!

kisserbirdy@designbuildbrooklyn I am considering this as I am finding that I am finding/hiring all the subs anyway, and because a few vendors I use do not allow customer or designer to purchase without a contractors license

designbuildbrooklyn@kisserbirdy Absolutely. It solved so many of my logistical problems!!

  1. What are your favorite design apps

Lenakroupnikint: My measure pro

Binomiodesignrd: Love polyvore for moodboards. Vectorworks for design

Designinkredible: @morpholio @polyvore

Ericcrook: @morpholio

Motivohome: Definitely @morpholio and @houzz I also couldn’t live without @wunderlist for staying organized and my timer app for when I’m working hourly

Interiordesigncommunity: I love the Color911 app by color expert @amywax for carrying colors with you. I like @Instagram for marketing @wordswag for making word graphics like this. @adobepost for photo graphics.

Homewithkek: Polyvore. Trello for staying organized. Color911 too!

Interiordesignmasterclass: Camera+, Dropbox, Bitly, Evernote are just a few of our faves for business 🙂

Erikabonnell: I use the moodboard app all the time. Can do quick concept boards to share with clients from my iPad.

Juneeightstudio: Measures to draw dimensions on photos, the match color apps from Benjamin Moore and sherwin williams.

chrissys_lifestyle: Color911 and @houzz 😍

jtwdesignllc: @pinterest for sharing ideas with clients!

Suzannesuszie: Polyvore

amywaxGreat post, I am so glad to see people mentioning Color911 ! (Thanks !)

sonianicolestyle@polyvore is essential for quickly accessing favorite go-to home decor quickly for design

  1. What skills does a modern design intern need to have?

Gruenfelds: I want them using pinterest…

Jnodesigns; Interpersonal skills, technically inclined and social media guru…

Interiordesigncommunity: I was thinking Social Media, Blogging, computer skills would be really important. Someone ALWAYS seeking inspiration, ability to take risks “design wise”, ability tow work with other design disciplines (lighting designers😉), and technically savvy “social media wise” and “design program wise”.

Summerthorntondesign: Self-sufficiency and ability to self-motivate and ‘figure it out’. Must be a helper/servant mindset – you’re there to make everyone else better and faster.

Irvininteriordesign: AutoCAD is definitely a must

kirchhoff_architects: AutoCAD and willingness to learn!

Notannak: As an interiors intern, I’d say a great attitude and willingness to go above and beyond what is required of you is highly valued. As an intern your role is not only to learn and gain experience but also to be a helping hand. Take the initiative, do the dirty work no one else will, and do it with a smile! Basically, if you are flexible and willing to learn and be your own motivation you can do anything. And never forget to absorb every word your supervisor says; he/she is full of valuable wisdom that you can’t get from college.

Tristanremodeling: Listening

Mrserikaward: Proactive and a spirit of productivity!

Mrserikaward: Good attitude

jowita_k: A hunger for knowledge, drive and willingness to think outside the box. I’ve found that a lot of interns I’ve worked with had very high expectations yet didn’t want to go the extra step; it’s a lot like something they have to do. Outlook matters. Make it a positive one!

Barbourspangle: We want interns eager to learn, to be exposed and to ask questions! We invest our time with interns as a way to give back to the industry we love. We try to engage them in all facets of the process – the good, the bad, the ugly. We all know this isn’t a glamorous job (on most days) and there is a lot of dirty, hard work. We LOVE our interns and want them to learn and grow while they are with us.

Thirdspaces: Willing to work + good attitude + thinking outside the box!

Accentsbayarea: Creative | Respectful | Eager to learn | Humble | Intelligent 💖

misscanady2u: As an intern I would want to exercise being a Jack of all trades, from autocad to photography to historical reference in design. As an aspiring designer, I want to be as well rounded as possible, and a limitless internship (experience in each department) would be the most beneficial I feel for everyone. 😍 love this post btw!

Meridiendesignmarie: Team player!

Justshilps: Other than AutoCAD, is any other software a must? Like Revit or sketch up?

Lisaescobar: Reliability is #1 for me, strong sourcing skills, autoCAD, must take initiative and finally they must be open about their career goals. My team and I share our goals monthly, it also helps when delegating tasks and to understand where strengths/weaknesses lie in each person. We’re only as strong as our weakest link. By lifting them, it empowers the team.

interiordesigncommunity@floecono: It’s a HUGE responsibility to teach what you know. At the same time, it can be an opportunity for the intern to teach… Especially things that involve new technology. Internships should develop into lasting mentor relationships for years to come.

LauraboisvertIs: common sense a skill? It seems to be lacking lol. For example- doing a 3D floor plan for a client and putting the shower head ON the shower floor…D’oh!

Lenakroupnikint: I want them to be attentive to details, have computer drawing skills , be reliable and learn/ be able to listen😘✨

Designinkredible: Style…is that a skill? Lol

Jonathonscoastalliving: A Good work ethic and a humble attitude are important skills that can make a good intern a great one!

gatti_design: Vision, listening, understanding and implementing ideas/concepts. They cannot perform these if they do not have creativity!

  1. We know some fantastic self-taught designers as well as those who attended design school. Should you have a design education to call yourself an interior designer?

Analirg: YES, otherwise you are a decorator

d2interieurs: Yes and no. I truly believe that no one can be great at everything. I surround myself with the most talented people I can find (architects, builders, craftsman) to get the best possible results). Yes, I went to school but it was in no means my real education!

Qatmer: No! You can be an artist without studying art.

Nelijaniga: In VA you can’t call yourself or have business advertising without an Interior Designer degree. Many decorators don’t know it and continue calling themselves Designers.

krista.mellett: Yes! There is SO much more that goes into being a designer besides decorating

hayleybug05: Yes… I worked hard for my degree.

Tuscanbluedesign: Yes. I am always learning from but in the end it’s my 4 years at design school that gave me a great understanding of interior design & architecture.

Patrishahymaninteriors: Working experience much more important that a degree. The longer you work with clients the more aware you are of things that can go wrong !!i think the industry is over saturated with unqualified so called designers!!💗

Gdinteriorsca: Yes absolutely, you have to be knowledgeable about building codes to design and provide a safe space for people who will use the space.

Frahminteriors: Not necessarily but there should be a distinction between a designer with educational training and self thought. A standard accreditation for having graduated design school without having to take the NCIDQ.

Stellerheller: I could write a book on this one! If your talent and passion are there then you got it and can call your self whatever you want. School is not the real world of design and this is what i try to teach students…

Wymanhaus: Yes! Natural talent is great, but I work with so many decorators that have no idea of space planning or textiles! All the yes answers maybe all of us that went to college , but the education plus experience is extra valuable! Knowledge is power.

Buildingmiami: That’s like saying, it’s not necessary to hire a licensed contractor, my handyman can do it!

Jsbeauchampdesign: For some, a formal education is a must. For others, a combination of studies and experience work. That does not take away from anyone’s hard work for their diploma. Some people simply have a lot of talent (technical, artistic or otherwise). I agree that you need basic knowledge of space design, but that can come from other experience. As for building codes, you should be aware of them, but so should the contractor.

danzy.ds: I’m educated in both business and design. I pursued the more formal education in design as I wanted a more concrete knowledge base and confidence especially as I was venturing into the commercial market. That’s just me but at the end of the day clients don’t necessarily ask to see your ‘papers’ they want to see your work and feedback from others about you. Its really is a personal choice…. for me the education is working.

ellenwinteriorconcepts: NO!!!! NO!!!!! Did I say NO? I am an Interior Designer. I’ve never set foot in a class to get formerly trained. I’m self taught in everything I do. I mean having “the eye”’is a gift but you don’t have to have a degree to learn. The library, internet and mentorship are wonderful tools. I love the construction side of design and I’ve learned through experience. Plus as someone stated codes do change. If you’re passionate about it you’ll do what needed to learn. But I do think there’s a difference between a designer and decorator. I don’t think you need a degree to be called a designer.

Latoyaatpanachedesign: I’ve got an MBA and an MA in interior design. My undergrad was pre law. I think my pre law and MBA have been more helpful in both of my design businesses, and I’m not knocking anyone at all, but I do believe that the title should belong to those that obtain the education. Then again – I clearly love education 😊 On the flip side talent cannot be taught which is why I would never knock anyone’s line of thinking on this topic.

Tiffhunterhome: Interesting discussion. Surprised no one has mentioned the fiduciary aspects. We often handle huge sums of money that our clients entrust us with to purchase furniture and finishes etc… Let alone the cost of an expensive remodel. I do not have a 4-year design degree (just a certificate and lots of hands on experience) but I do have an MBA from an Ivy League school. I am constantly surprised by how many designers and/or decorators do not know how to run a business. I would think consumers would want to know their money is being handled professionally, that they are receiving items purchased, and that a project is within budget. I am for licensing in the sense it provides a layer of protection for the public, a formal complaints process Etc…. Because a couple bad eggs can taint the whole industry. Multiple stories here in SoCal of designers who took their clients money and ran….clients never received the goods they paid for.

Online Design, How Does It Work?

The interior design industry is being revolutionized online. Interior design has always been thought of as a luxury service. Traditionally, homeowners would obtain design services from local firms or independent designers. The process would include several in-person meetings, before, during and after project completion. However, the interior design market is rapidly losing these preconceived boundaries.

In today’s global marketplace interior design is unhindered by geographical distance. Online interior designers can be chosen purely based on their skill and vision. With the serge of e-commerce many furniture manufactures have teamed up with well know e-designers to sell furniture. They provide the designers with digital images of their inventory, and this allows designers to select furniture and create vision boards much more quickly than in the past. Customers are able to receive more designs via the online platforms and designers realize they can use this technology to engage more customers.

Another benefit is that there is no negotiation of price in online design. Most of the time everything is already laid out for both the client and designer up front. Packages are purchased and customers simply input the programming information to begin the process. In the traditional model, homeowners would interview multiple firms or select a designer based on recommendations. Consulting with interior design firms takes time and is very energy consuming. In addition, a traditional designer charges between $50 and $200 an hour, not including overhead fees. An automated platform eliminates a lot of the human labor and therefore labor prices, resulting in a much lighter fee for the same services.

A traditional interior designer will visit a client’s space, takes measurement and asks about their lifestyle and decorating style. With online design services, the client must do most of the legwork, sending information, photos, likes and dislikes to the designer via an online platform. Once the design firm has evaluated the information, the client receives design concepts from multiple designers based on their requirements and budget. The client selects what designer they want to work with. That designer then finalizes the design in photorealistic 3D renderings incorporating new and existing items, a color palette, floor plan, elevations and an online shopping list. The client then implements the designer’s ideas: hiring tradespeople as needed, purchasing the materials and installing them based on the designer’s layout.

The online interior design world is an excellent way for students to enter into the interior design industry. Developing a library of vision boards and room scenes is a great way to get noticed by a potential online client. Online design platforms allow young designers to expand their professional network outside of the traditional system by creating digital portfolios and connecting to their potential clients via digital marketing like Instagram or online portfolio sites.

After a bit of research and weeding out, I narrowed down the top six online decorating firms; Decorilla, Decorist, Havenly, Homepolish, Laurel and Wolf and Stellar Interior Design.


Service: All clients experience a complete and personalized online interior design help beginning with an initial one-on-one consultation and interactive questionnaire to start. You receive design concepts from multiple designers based on your requirements and budget with constant designer communication. Your selected designer works with you to finalize your design in photorealistic 3D renderings (incorporating new and existing items together to scale), they create a color palette, floor plan, and online shopping list using great designer discounts. Among other things, clients say they love the: in-home and phone consultations, savvy user friendly online platform, realistic 3D renderings for easy visualization, and online shopping assistance with 10% to 25% discounts at popular stores like Wayfair and Crate and Barrel.

Cost: each room has 3 online interior design services to choose from, ranging from $449 to $1699. Customized packages starting at $75 are also available.

Turnaround: 3-5 weeks; projects may be expedited or extended according to client timelines

Glassdoor employee review: 4.5 out of 5 (14 reviews)



Service: Get started by choosing the room you need help with. After choosing a room design package, you’ll provide details about your room and budget, likes and dislikes, and upload your room and inspiration photos. Our designers are hand-picked from the best in the industry. We match you with an online interior designer based on your unique style and budget. You may also start a project by choosing a designer you want to work with. Your designer creates two initial design concepts based on your project details. After you provide feedback, your designer works with you to finalize your online interior design. Your final design includes a complete room design, custom floor plan, set-up instructions, and shopping list. We get you the best prices from your favorite retailers and access to amazing wholesale finds—all in one cart! It’s the fastest, easiest way to get all your beautiful new pieces hassle free. Our dedicated Decorist Purchasing Team will handle all the details for you.

Cost: starting at $299/room

Turnaround: 2 weeks

Glassdoor employee review: 3.9/5 (9 reviews)



Service: From decor advice or furniture recommendations to whole room designs, Havenly offers wonderful correspondence with an online interior designer. The process starts with taking a style quiz followed by having you upload images and measurements of your space. With your information, your online interior designer proposes some themes and looks, and provides a final concept board complete with layout, new furniture and accessories. The initial themes from a Havenly designer are in a moodboard format and the final concept is a 2D layered rendering which helps to better visualize the room.

The difference between Havenly vs Laurel and Wolf is that Havenly offers concepts from one designer, but Laurel and Wolf and other online interior design services like Decorilla provide visual concepts from multiple designers. Both Havenly and Laurel and Wolf offer moodboards and two-dimensional layered renderings, but not realistic 3D renderings.

Cost: Online interior design services include a sprucing up service, the Havenly Mini, starting at $79 per room. For $199, the Havenly Full includes concept boards and product suggestion found in the Havenly Mini, plus furniture layout and additional revision time.

Turnaround: as little as 1 to 2 weeks with Havenly Mini and 2 to 3 weeks with Havenly’s Full online interior design help package.

Glassdoor employee review: 3.8 out of 5 (75 REVIEWS)




Service: Sign Up & Meet Your Designer

Fill out your details, and we’ll either select a designer for you or set you up with a Homepolish designer you already love. Then enjoy a complimentary, one-on-one consultation. Review Your Proposal & Purchase Design Time

Based on your needs and project scope, your designer will create a custom proposal outlining tasks, products to purchase, and a recommended design fee. A DEDICATED

ACCOUNT MANAGER You’ll have our entire support team at your service, including a dedicated, on-call Account Manager who can answer any questions and keep your project running smoothly.

PURCHASING CONCIERGE Our easy-to-navigate Shopping List lets you and your designer easily collaborate on items to purchase. Once you’re ready, our Concierge team will place your orders across hundreds of vendors—and manage all the logistics.

A VETTED NETWORK OF RENOVATION SPECIALISTS When your project needs it, we’ll select reliable contractors and architects for you, saving you from a stressful bidding process, and partner with your designer to keep things moving—from contracts and billing to everything in between.

Cost: The cost proposal are sent after the consultation.

Turnaround: When your designer presents you with your proposal post consultation, they’ll be able to give you an estimate on timing.

Glassdoor employee review: 4.2 out of 5 (34 REVIEWS)



Service: Laurel & Wolf starts their process with a style quiz that includes uploading photos of the space and providing dimensions. Clients will receive initial first looks to review from various designers submitting for the job.  The site’s communication platform allows clients to interact with their designer to get online interior design help. At the end, customers will receive a final design package that includes a style board, floor plan with measurements, a shopping list, and setup instructions.

Cost: Depending on which package you select, they start with light at $79 per room and signature at $249 per room, but Laurel and Wolf almost always has discounts of up to 50% off so it can end up being a lot less!

Turnaround: A design project typically takes about 2 weeks for a single room project. If you’re doing a multi-room project, you’ll have 3 additional days per room during the Design Time phase of your project.

Glassdoor employee review: 2.5 out of 5 (47 REVIEWS)





Service: A completed questionnaire, room sizes, and photos are preliminary information needed to get started. Designs include inspirational concept boards, material boards (paints, fabrics, wallpaper, window treatments, flooring), a product purchase list, an optional floor plan and a room guide with detailed guidelines on implementing your new design. Stellar Interiors offers clients a la carte online interior design help and design consultations by phone.

Cost: Paint consultations start at $85 and room designs range from $375-$475 depending on the need for floor plans.

Turnaround: 1-2 weeks

Glassdoor employee review: 3.2 out of 5 (32 REVIEWS)



(this service is a little different in that design packages are already created. You simply choose one.)

Service: Get access to designer Windsor Smith’s famous mix of historical references and crazy-good details, all delivered to you in a beautiful peacock blue box. A room rendering to show what the room will look like when completed. A to-scale floor plan to show the room arrangement. A collection of images and swatches recommended for your room mounted on a board. This should give you an idea of the overall look for the space. A look book that includes all the furniture and accessories, along with sourcing, recommended for the space. Samples of the fabrics, wallpapers, and paint colors recommended for the space.

Cost: Starting at $900/room

Turnaround: Not Mentioned

Glassdoor employee review: No rating


Designer: Windsor Smith







Here we go again + THE EVOLUTION OF A LOGO

The Evolution of a Logo

All interior design students at some point design a logo for their projects and portfolio. As you do this keep in mind that you are creating a brand for yourself. What is the story you are trying to tell? Who are you as a designer? These are the questions I was asked and continue to ask myself as I grow as a designer. Over time the answers will change and you may find the need or desire to update your logo and brand. Here is my journey and my answers to these questions.


Above is my original logo created at Santa Monica College in 1993 in a drafting class. It’s my initials with a short and long e pronounced “any,” as in I will be able to create “any” design for a client.

It was revamped in the portfolio class at Cal State Long Beach around 1999. I had a professor who rejected every new idea I presented. For weeks his only feedback was “think outside of the box.” REALLY!?! Well, at one o’dark thirty in the morning the day the logo was due I thought “f*** it” there is creativity in my box! I slapped a box around the older logo and turned it in. This logo and story has stuck with me my entire career.

Well, at one o’clock in the morning the day the logo was due. I thought “bleep it” there is creativity in my box! I slapped a box around the older logo and turned it in.  Weather I liked it or not it has stuck with me my entire career.


I decided in 2001 to applied for a position as an instructor at Santa Monica College after several years of working in the industry. As I updated my portfolio with industry work I began to understand that my creativity as an interior designer affects those around me. I revised the logo to reflect that idea by pushing the letter ‘N’ out of the box and into a different environment.


Around 2006, when I began to move my career into teaching, I was honestly sick of looking at the same logo so I simplified it dramatically. I still loved the idea of the box so I kept that element and added my name above, bolding out Lis and Eatman since that is the name I most commonly go by. My name and a box… that is all.

Now : 2018

So now as I think about this new chapter in my life, what I know for sure is what my professor so many years ago was trying to get me to see, that really, there is no box. The “perceived box” is simply the limits one puts on one’s self.

Working with Envato Studio, an online graphic design resource, was great. I was able to compare prices, portfolios and recommendations at my leisure. I decided to work with Szabolcs Zöld, a 26-year-old graphic designer who lives in Oradea city, Romania. His portfolio was fresh and fun, just what I was looking for. There was an upfront fee of $65 for three days or 5 revisions.

I sent him the stories I shared with you and the request to evolve the logo into something cleaner and more fun. I also sent him a few sketches. In my process sketches below I reflected the E in order to reinforce the idea of the box, now broken open.

The process was really fun. Each email I received felt like I was opening a gift for Christmas. We shared process files and feedback easily through messaging and Envato’s job management tools. Here are a few of his ideas and evolution.

Once there were a few I liked I asked my friends, piers and students to vote. Here are the results   A: 54   B : 28   C : 18

After a few more revisions this is where we landed. I guess I didn’t listen to you, sorry… LOL! I decided on a combination of both A and B. I really like all 3 color stories so you will see them all in different applications. Thank you all for your input!

The Pros and Cons I found of working with a designer online

The pros:

  • I received MANY versions of a logo with lots of new ideas and revisions.
  • They were done by a professional at a level I may not have been able to achieve.
  • I didn’t have to spend the time myself, and the entire process took about 2 weeks.
  • The designer was very kind and was willing to do as many revisions as I wanted until I was satisfied (we did 4).
  • He received comments and implemented them.

The cons:

  • Never being able to meet in person or speak on the phone felt very disconnected. A large part of the design process for me is to look at expressions, to hear inflection and tone, and gauge enthusiasm as ideas are presented.

: CSULB : Taking the mystery out of transferring : What interior design program is best for you?

The California State University, Long Beach Interior Design program CSULB ID is my Alma Mater, and so visiting the campus is like going back home. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity not only attend CSULB ID but also to have taught there as well. It’s always exciting to connect with the professors and colleagues that I haven’t seen over the last several years. My education and teaching background from CSULB ID is what lead to the evolution of the current Mt SAC ID program. Our structure and curriculum was developed based on the knowledge, work ethic and rigger I gained here. CSULB ID’s methodology and implementation of philosophy is well proven. It gives its students a strong foundation of design and challenges the ideas of how shape and form can effect social, cultural and environmental awareness. I had the opportunity to sit down with Rachel Ryan, the undergraduate adviser, to look at the things that have changed since I have been there, and the things that will be changing on the CSULB ID campus.


California State University Long Beach Interior Design

Location: Long Beach, CA

Program Title: Interior Design

Department Chair: Martin Herman

Undergraduate Advisor: Rachael Ryan 562.985.4368

For Department Tours please email:

Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Program Length: 4 yr., Mt SAC transfer student 2 ½-3 years based on portfolio


How is CSULB’s program different than others?

California State University, Long Beach prides itself on having a very high quality design education. Their faculty is a mix of tenured and part-time professors who continue to work in the field and possess an ongoing mastery of the skill sets required to succeed in industry. There is also a constant flow of guest lectures and critics who keep the design discussion current and relevant preparing students for industry.

CSULB ID has both a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design BFA and a Bachelor of Arts in Design BA. The BFA consists of 132 semester units. The first 2 years consist of foundation design work where you may be in studio with industrial design students and BA design students. In the 4th semester (end of the second year) you are required to submit a portfolio of work from your prior classes. For you as a transfer student this would mean many of your Mt SAC classes. Portfolios are reviewed by a panel of judges made up of CSULB ID professors.  If your work ranks among the top you will be moved ahead to your 3rd year where the upper division design studios begin (the 3rd and 4th years of the program).  If you choose this track you are most likely on the path to a career in the commercial interior design industry.

The Bachelor of Arts in Design program is shorter requiring only 120 semester units. It is structured for students who are interested in a more broad understanding of design. Many of the foundation classes overlap between the two programs and is strong in both. The two programs differ in how you decide to apply your knowledge. With this degree there is more opportunity to focus on a specific area of study such as lighting design, furniture design or user experience.


Are Mt SAC Students transferring well prepared?

YES! Mt SAC students have seamlessly transferred into both programs, and have proven to be successful in not only transferring, but passing portfolio review for the BFA program. We have gotten personal notes from faculty at CSULB in regards to how much they enjoy our students. Currently it is taking Mt SAC transfer students approximately 3 years to complete the CSULB ID program. There is a push however from the Cal State system to guarantee transfer students can complete in 2 years. The CSULB ID program is currently working on how to shift and combine classes in order to accomplish that, stay tuned.

As I mentioned, several classes are shared by both the BFA and BA programs. Often times transferring students are accepted into the BA program when ultimately the BFA is their goal. This should not be seen as a setback or a slight by any means. It is the opportunity to take the few classes Mt SAC ID cannot offer you and also prep your portfolio for review. Once you have reached the requirements to submit your portfolio and you’ve passed portfolio review you are then transferred into the BFA program.

Is there a portfolio required?

Yes! You must first apply to the college through the general admission process and meet the minimum major-specific requirements and competitive ranking based on the CSULB Supplemental Application. If you are successful in this process you will then be individually invited to submit a portfolio electronically through Slide Room to be reviewed by faculty.

CSULB Supplemental Application:

BA and BFA: Transfer Students

Once you have completed all the required lower division courses you must complete a portfolio review to enter the CSULB ID BFA program, junior and senior studio courses. The portfolio review is a competitive evaluation process. Your portfolio must include the work you completed at Mt SAC and anything you completed at CSULB ID. You will want to go over ALL of your work in fine detail to improve it. You will have experienced significant growth from your first few classes at Mt SAC and you will probably want to redo a lot of your former work. Do not wait until the last minute, start early.

BFA Interior Design Roadmap:

The track for BA students is a bit different; there is not a second portfolio review. The first year consists of foundation level courses very similar to that of the BFA program, however in the 3rd and 4th semesters students are allowed to select from a list of upper division design electives of which you must take a minimum of 16 units. This is where you have the opportunity to follow a specific design career and create a program to suit your particular needs, desires and interests.

What classes transfer?

Most of our classes transfer. We have found the students who complete the Mt SAC ID program are more successful once they enter CSULB ID. Although all of the classes do not transfer directly, they set up a good foundation and skill level for going into the portfolio review. They may however articulate for a class that is not officially documented, but only if your portfolio is outstanding. So let’s all be outstanding!


What’s the studio environment like?

The junior and senior studio spaces are set up very much like corporate workspaces. Students share semi private workstations and have keys to access their respective studios 24 hours a day. Many, many, many hours are spent in studio. Each class has the ability to slightly customize the environment by bringing in sofas, futons and microwaves to make the environment cozier. Once you are in your upper division studios your professors come to you so this is your only classroom environment.

 Where are students getting hired?

Once a year, prior to graduation CSULB ID host a Sr. Show. The seniors are responsible for setting up the work, inviting guests and hosting the show. Professionals from industry are invited and this is one of the many opportunities graduating students have to promote themselves and their abilities to prospective employers. CSULB ID students also receive many exciting design opportunities including competitions, job and internship prospects. CSULB ID graduating students are highly sought after in industry.


: Woodbury : Taking the mystery out of transferring : What interior design program is best for you?

For an introduction to this series of articles please refer to : Taking the mystery out of transferring : What interior design program is best for you?

Stepping onto the Woodbury campus is always a very peaceful feeling. It is small, quiet and well integrated into nature. One of my favorite memories is of a deer that visited my materials class multiple times one semester. I taught at Woodbury for several years and am in awe of how the program has grown and changed. I have always found Woodbury to be an excellent transfer option for Mt SAC ID students and my opinion remains steadfast after my most recent visit.

Woodbury University

Location: Burbank, CA

Program Title: Interior Architecture

Department Chair: Christoph Korner 818-394-3325

Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Program Length: 4 years. Mt SAC transfer student 2 ½-3 years based on portfolio


How is Woodbury’s program different than others?

I sat down to speak to Christoph Korner, the program chair, about Woodbury’s Interior Architecture Program. What stood out as a distinguishing factor in this design program is the exploration of process and concept develop in the studio classes. Conceptual thinking and intellectual concepts are the driving force behind the structure of a project. A force like “gravity” is studied, and through a series of conceptual evolutions and manipulations the concept manifests form and physical condition. For example, a student may be asked to create a new material of his or her choosing. The newly developed material acts as the concept and the driving force behind the final design. This concept driven way of teaching pushes students beyond the boundaries of traditional paradigms. It elevates the ideas, forms, and built environment. Traditional classes such as space planning and lighting design are technical skill based classes that support the studios and integrate problem solving in a more traditional way.

Woodbury provides their Sr. Level students the ability to customize their final thesis projects. If a student has a particular interest or specialty, their project can be devoted strictly to what they would like to focus on. For example, if during your time at Woodbury you discover that furniture design is your passion, your senior thesis project could be a furniture piece or series of related pieces.

 Are Mt SAC Students transferring well prepared?

YES! Several Mt SAC students have transferred to Woodbury and are currently in the 4 year Interior Architecture program. Christoph has had wonderful things to say about our program and our students who have transferred. They are coming in well prepared and eager to continue their educational careers. Students’ expectations of transferring, however, are often too high. Most hope they will enter directly into their 3rd year, but there is an additional studio class required that Mt SAC ID cannot provide and only Woodbury can offer.

I often advise students (even if they are not happy about it): It’s a good thing to take a few lower division classes before jumping in full throttle. Why? It helps you get acclimated to a new culture, a new way of thinking and a new campus. In addition you will not be bogged down with classes in your final year. You will be able to focus primarily on your senior studio and what lies ahead.

Interior Architecture Senior Yumin Zeng (Mt SAC transfer student) was selected as one of fourteen recipients of the Angelo Donghia Foundation 2015 Senior Student Scholarship.

Is there a portfolio required?

Yes! You are required to submit a portfolio of all the classes you wish to transfer conveying the range of work completed at Mt SAC. Projects must be organized and labeled by course, sorted from earliest to most recent course taken. Hand drawing should not be overemphasized, it is not important for determining transfer placements. The process – how you solved a problem and came to your design conclusion – is very important.

Woodbury also has a required portfolio review to enter the third year Interior Architecture program. Portfolios are graded based on a rubric by several faculty members. I was on this committee many years ago and it is not an easy process. Do your best to make your portfolio stand out. Keep it clean, organized and professional. Typically 70% of the students that apply for the 3rd year will pass. Transfer students have a bit more of a difficult time, another good reason to have the additional semester or two at Woodbury under your belt. Thus far all of the Mt SAC students that have applied have been accepted to Woodbury, and all have progressed through portfolio review and on to their 3rd year once they were eligible.

Additional information: on Campus

 What classes transfer?

Below is a link to Woodbury’s transfer information both Mt SAC ID and the best general education courses to take. I would encourage you to take Mt SAC ID courses even if ART or ARCH courses are listed as acceptable. Our classes better align with both Woodbury’s way of thinking and teaching.

What’s the studio environment like?

Simple, effective… AND OPEN 24 HOURS! There is also access to a wood/metal shop, a materials resource library, a digital fabrication lab, a lighting lab, computing facilities and a render farm.


 Campus Trends

There is a growing amount of interdisciplinary studies at Woodbury which embraces the growing trend of workforce fluidity we see in the current market. Woodbury’s programs are flexible enough that students are crossing boundaries and majoring in two distinct areas. A student in the Interior Architecture program may be minoring in filmmaking. Students are then able to combine these artistic fields or move seamlessly into different freelance careers upon graduation. Woodbury is preparing for this new way of working and creating inner disciplinary majors. Stay tuned.

 Where are students getting hired?

Christoph has found that Woodbury graduates think “bigger picture” and are excellent problem solvers. Once they’re working in the field they seem to move up the ladder and into leadership positions very quickly. Bestor Architecture, BNIM, Callison, RTKL, CannonDesign, Chu + Gooding, Gensler, Gruen Associates, HDR, HED, HKS Architects, HOK, NBBJ, Omgivning, Perkins + Will, Wolcott Architecture Interiors, and ZGF are a few of the places they are being hired.

: Cal Poly Pomona UCLA Extension Master of Interior Architecture : Taking the mystery out of transferring: What interior design program is best for you?

For an introduction to this series of articles please refer to : Taking the mystery out of transferring : What interior design program is best for you?

The Mt SAC Interior Design program has a very diverse student population. Some of our students are just graduating high school while others are interested in jump starting a second career. I’ve seen one class turn into two classes, two classes turning to a year and by the end of two years the student’s vision has shifted into something very different from where it started. The Cal Poly Pomona UCLA Extension Master of Interior Architecture is an opportunity for Mt SAC students who have already achieved a bachelor’s degree in another field to pursue graduate studies in interior design, and the transition from our program to theirs is seamless. The master’s degree is offered in partnership with UCLA Extension and Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design, Department of Architecture. The classes are taught at UCLA Extension facilities in Westwood, Los Angeles.

Master of Interior Architecture:

 Cal Poly Pomona UCLA Extension

Location: Classes are located at the UCLA Extension campus in Westwood, California

Cal Poly Pomona Department: College of Environmental Design

Program Title: Interior Architecture, M.I.A.

UCLA Extension Program Coordinator: Nicholas Sitter, (310) 794-3747

UCLA Extension Program Advisor: Suzanne Sheppard,

UCLA Extension Program Director: Jeffrey Daniels

Degree: Master of Interior Architecture (M.I.A.) issued from Cal Poly Pomona

Program Length: 1 1/2 yrs. Certificate, 1 yr. master’s

Mt SAC Transfer Student 1 yr. Certificate, 1 yr. master’s (if you already have a BA)


How is UCLA Extension’s program different than others?

I sat down with Suzanne Sheppard to talk about the qualities and benefits of the UCLA extension program. One of the things that she described was the level of student commitment. The majority of the UCLA population are returning for a second career and most have been very successful in their first career. They come from varying disciplines: business, the arts and fashion are a few. The students are not only more mature in their outlook on life but they also bring the skills from their first career to the table. This brings up the level of class work. The UCLA instructors are all professionals that are working in the field and teach industry standards and expectations.

Are Mt SAC Students transferring well prepared?

As of yet we have had no students transfer to the UCLA program, however, I am very confident that our students will come in well prepared. UCLA Extension has an institutional policy that allows only 25% of a certificate program to be awarded as Advanced Standing. For the Interior Design program, that is the equivalent of 5 classes, meaning that you would still need to take 13 classes in order to earn a certificate prior to starting the Master of Interior Architecture Program. In some rare instances, a prospective MIA student may only be lacking information or skills from one or two classes. In that event, the prospective student would have to take those missing classes from the certificate level program. However, they could not earn a Certificate.

Is there a portfolio required?

Portfolios for the master’s level are not required for students who have completed studios I & II in the foundation level at UCLA. Applicants must provide a statement of purpose explaining your interests, motivations and goals in pursuing a professional degree in interior architecture as well as three standard letters of recommendation. The work you are requesting to transfer from Mt. SAC for the 5 foundation level classes at UCLA will be presented in an informal portfolio for review by the program coordinator in order to assess your level of ability. Any work that is deemed unacceptable or not meeting UCLA’s standard will not be transferred.

If you have taken these classes elsewhere a physical portfolio must be mailed to the campus. It should be bound and not be any larger than 9″ x 12″. It must illustrate your creative ability in graphic form. NEVER send your original work.

What classes transfer?

Most of the Mt SAC classes transfer with the exception of the kitchen and bath studios. Keep in mind – you are only able to use our classes to substitute 5 of their foundation classes. Some of our classes need to double up in order to meet UCLA’s unit requirement. You’ll notice on their schedule that UCLA is on the quarter system and Mt SAC is on a semester system. As we are articulating classes you must do a bit of math in order to satisfy their unit requirements. For example: 1 semester unit = 1.5 quarter units, 2 semester units = 3 quarter units, 3 semester units = 4.5 quarter units, 4 semester units = 6 quarter units. I’ve attached a spread sheet that shows which classes may transfer. This is not a formal articulation and transfer is based of portfolio. Here is a link that shows you their classes and sequence.

UCLA IA Quarterly Curriculum Sequence:

What’s the studio environment like?

The studio spaces are relatively corporate, the wall structure is exposed and left open on the top to allow light to penetrate the space. The classrooms are very similar to the Mt SAC ID Studio. There is a small lab space open to the corridors for students to work in-between classes.

: Art Center College of Design : Taking the mystery out of transferring: What interior design program is best for you?

For an introduction to this series of articles please refer to : Taking the mystery out of transferring : What interior design program is best for you?

I spent a wonderful two and a half hours at Art Center College of Design. I met with David Mocarski, department chair for both the graduate and undergraduate Environmental Design programs. Both programs are truly exciting and have a unique perspective on what interior design is. The Art Center program is titled Environmental Design because they pride themselves on achieving a holistic space that is cohesive from the big picture all the way to its minute details. Each project develops the spatial experience using form, structure, furniture, materiality, graphics, logo design, topography and wayfinding. Art Center also prides itself on giving students the top of the line facilities and technologies.

Art Center College of Design

Location: Pasadena, CA

Program Title: Environmental Design

Department Chair: David Mocarski, department chair, graduate and undergraduate Environmental Design

Director of Recruitment: David Salow,, 626 396-2324

Degree: Bachelor of Science

Program Length: 4 yr., Mt SAC transfer student 2 ½ years based on portfolio


How is Art Center’s program different than others?

Art Center employs a 3D approach to teaching very early in the program. During the 2nd term students begin creating digital wire frames of their designs. David has noticed that walking though the perceived spaces gives students a more tangible understanding of what a space will look and feel like three-dimensionally.

Students very early on are learning how to tell their “design story” a term used at Art Center that is similar to the idea of concept. The design story defines what the user of the space experiences. As the story is told it emphasizes how the elements used support the design story. So what we understand as “concept” becomes an expanded idea. The story weaves together the big picture, the experience the user will have as they move though the space, and hopefully engages the audience and sells the project.

David acknowledged that “the creative process is a messy one, there’s always risk involved. The question is how do you work through that? Thoughtful innovation is never born out of comfort, it is a period of discovery.” Students at Art Center are allowed to be free in how they solve problems and tell their design stories. Filters or program such as budget, location, and cultural influence are given to students midway through a project.

One aspect of Art Center I truly appreciate is that the academic classes are customized to support your field of study. For example a Branding Strategies class would be considered general education and works in conjunction with your Portfolio Development class. History & Theory of Space: Looking Back includes the evolution of lighting, which directly aids students in Illumination: Lighting where they apply that knowledge to fixture design. In 5th year studio students are allowed to find their personal voice. Projects can vary from specific items like furniture or lighting or to broad ideas like hospitality.

Arts Center is distinctive because it combines all facets of design. Some schools may specialize more in theory, others in production, Art Center synthesizes both theory and production and prides itself in staying on par with the industry to ensure they are producing marketable students. They are unapologetically industry driven.

Are Mt SAC Students transferring well prepared?

David has reviewed several Mt SAC student portfolios and was quite impressed with the quality of the work. The one concern we both have is that Rhino and Solidworks are the primary 3D and rendering programs used throughout the program. They are learned and used in the first four terms of the program. I would suggest prior to starting Art Center you take classes in Rhino so that you are not falling behind. There are a few options to achieve this. There is an Intro to Rhino at Art Center’s night program, or you could start at Art Center a semester prior to starting full time. In addition there are online options like that host Rhino Training and Tutorials.

Art Center at Night:

 Is there a portfolio required?

Yup! Applicants will be considered for their design concepts, as well as basic drawing and model-making skills. All of your work will be reviewed to ensure that it is up to standard. Even if you have a top notch portfolio I would recommend starting in the 3rd or 4th term in the 2nd year. Even if you have completed our program this will give you time to comfortably assimilate into the culture, pick up the 3D classes, and the hands-on technical skills that are taught very early on. This strategy will leave you with 2 ½- 3 years at Art Center.


What classes transfer?

Studio art credit is awarded based on a combination of portfolio work and prior college credit. It is never awarded solely on a listing of courses on a transcript. There is not an official transfer agreement with Arts Center, transfer is based solely on portfolio. David was impressed with the student portfolio work from Mt SAC that he has seen over the last year and gets the sense that our students would be very successful transferring into the 4th term, giving them 2 ½ more years to complete the program if they gained Rhino experience.

 What’s the studio environment like?

The campus is extremely beautiful and well maintained. The corridors are mostly concrete with all the structures and supports showing. The studios are simple open spaces that remain open 24 hours and students have created dividers for privacy. There are no cushy chairs only metal stools and projects are pinned up for presentation or laid out on the floor for group work. The graduate environment is slightly cushier. They have their own wing of the building right underneath the undergraduates, and the corridor is lined with projects. They have their own 3D imaging lab and a materials library.


Where are students getting hired?

Internship placement was describe as “custom dating!” I love that! You’re asked as you progress through the program: what is your heart’s desire? Who are the designers or architects you admire? What firms are doing the kind of work that inspires you, no matter where they are in the world? Once it is time for you to begin an internship, you are posed with five questions; where do you want to go, what defines your design style, where do you want to work in the world, what do we need in your portfolio to achieve that? Art Center assists you in developing a portfolio to achieve your desires, and assists in helping you find your dream firm no matter where they are in world. Because they are so well connected and known globally the sky is the limit. Typically six weeks after graduation all Art Center graduates have been hired.


Market Trends

David has noticed a trend that firms are now hiring what he has dubbed “turnkey students.” Traditionally an entry level designer would start in a very low level position and very gradually work their way up, learning as they go. This seems to no longer be the case, and has become a game changer in the industry. A turnkey student is defined as someone who can hit the ground running, jump in to a higher level position, have a very clear professional voice and be effective immediately. The better prepared the students are the more successful they will be.

Opportunity Seeking in a Shrinking World: David Mocarski at TEDxSoCal

Taking the mystery out of transferring: What interior design program is best for you?

As an interior design student at Mt SAC you’re probably aware of the many options you have once you graduate. Mt SAC’s Interior Design Program (Mt SAC ID) was designed to allow you to transfer successfully to any interior design bachelor’s program, or you may decide to venture out and start your own interior design business.

The trick to life is to remember that “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” –Conrad Hall. As you have grown in the Mt SAC ID program has your idea of what your future holds shifted? Over the years I have seen many students come in simply wanting to take one or two classes for fun and end up completing the program, transferring successfully to a bachelor’s program, and then going on to a second career in interior design.  Others come in dead set on doing residential projects yet end up loving commercial design. On the other side of the coin there are many Mt SAC ID students who decide not to continue with their education after graduation and have successfully transitioned into their own businesses.

So what does all this look like for you? What are your goals and aspirations? Where do you see yourself in three years? Selecting the right school for you to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree is a big step in guiding your future. In this first series of articles we will look at several 4-year universities: Woodbury, California State University, Long Beach, Otis College of Art and Design, Art Center, UCLA Extension, and VDCI, an online program for industry professionals, all of which have vastly different programs.

We will ask the important questions you may be asking yourself. What makes this university different than the others? What is it like to be in this new studio environment? Has Mt SAC ID prepared me well enough to succeed? Is a portfolio required to transfer? Who should I be contacting in the department? Is there a portfolio review once I get there?

My hope is that this will take some of the mystery out of the process and motivate you to keep growing. This information is only a start. Always visit your prospective campuses and talk to the department chairs and advisers before you make any choice on a design school. Go to open houses, tours and reviews if you can. Research each school online and talk to students that attend there. Research and investigation will be your best friend when selecting a transfer school. I found myself so energized and inspired by these visits, that for a brief moment I thought, “I want to go back to school!” Instead I hope to inspire and guide you in your decision. Cool? Let’s go!

: Otis College of Art and Design : Taking the mystery out of transferring: What interior design program is best for you?

For an introduction to this series of articles please refer to : Taking the mystery out of transferring : What interior design program is best for you?

I was extremely excited to visit Otis College of Art and Design. This school has been on my radar for the last 10 years, and finally I had the opportunity to visit. Linda Pollari is the chair of the Architecture | Landscape | Interiors program at Otis.  She and I had an absolutely fabulous discussion about their program, its fundamental ideals and the approach they take to teaching. I could feel Linda’s passion about the program and her students’ success as we toured the space and reviewed her students’ work.  Unfortunately we have not had any Mt SAC students transfer into Otis’ program. I accept responsibility for this; I had not done my due diligence in researching this program and exposing you all to it. However, now that I have I am so excited to introduce to you (and enthusiastically recommend!) Otis College of Art and Design as a transfer path. Here’s why…

Otis College of Art and Design

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Program Title: Architecture | Landscape | Interiors

Department Chair: Linda Pollari,,

Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Program Length: 4 yr., Mt SAC transfer student 2 ½ years based on portfolio


 How is Otis’s program different than others?

After sitting down with Otis’s department chair, Linda Pollari, I quickly understood that this is a very unique program. The first year combines the disciplines of Architecture, Landscape and Interiors and teaches basic design principles to all the proposed design majors simultaneously. Linda described it as a “boot camp.” Prior to moving onto their second year students select a specific major: Architecture | Landscape | Interiors being one of many.

Otis’s emphasis very early on is the idea of movement not only horizontally through a space but vertically. The goal is to teach students to visualize and describe three dimensional form successfully from the very beginning of the design process.

This is truly a multiple disciplinary program. There is a class in landscape that includes grading plans and site engineering. The architectural and interior focuses seem to be weaved together throughout the program which produces projects that are cohesive from the exterior to the interior. A few of their projects include designing landscape for an existing space, an interior jungle gym, and a housing project. In the senior year students develop an entire building and are responsible for every aspect of the space. Otis also offers lighting classes and certificates which can be taken concurrently with the programmed curriculum.

In some cases classes are designed to overlap so you may be designing a project in one class and bringing that work into another class to develop a design for the presentation. The design drawing programs of choice of are AutoCAD and Rhino.

In the final semester graduating students present a Sr. Show, and they are required to design and construct a display to house their Sr. Thesis. These are much more than beautiful exhibitions, they are designed in such a way that they carve out and redefine the existing space. Exploring the design process from its conception to the final outcome, Linda described this process as the closest thing to real life a student will experience on a college campus. They are designing and critiquing as a team, ultimately selecting one design to build. They must then engineer the design and understand exactly how to build it while working with a general contractor. The final exhibit is a full scale specialty project, a complete environment, where guests can walk through and experience the space.

Are Mt SAC Students transferring well prepared?

Yes, based on Mt SAC projects I reviewed with Linda she feels that the Mt SAC student population would fit perfectly into the second year, second semester. Third year, which I know all of you want to achieve, is possible but would be very challenging because of their interdisciplinary program. You would be missing the landscape class in addition to the Rhino experience. Although Revit is acceptable at Otis Rhino is preferred. It may be possible to take these classes while still attending Mt SAC in order to achieve a third year starting point at Otis.

Is there a portfolio required?

Yes! There is not an official portfolio review to enter into the program, however you will need to show work from ALL of the classes that you intend to transfer. The classes that Linda and I have reviewed and have decided are similar and transferable must be up to par in your portfolio to be considered. Your work will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance into those classes.

What classes transfer?

Students must first sit with Linda to do a transfer evaluation based on their portfolio, and many of our Mt SAC classes will transfer. Otis allows 17 transfer units of foundation studio courses (first year), of which the Mt SAC ID can offer you 18. Otis also allows 22 units of transferable Architecture | Landscape | Interiors courses (Second year). Mt SAC ID can offer you 13 of the 22 units. To transfer in junior standing you are also required to have 24 units Liberal Arts and Science courses, and Mt SAC can offer you all of those.

There are two courses in the transferable Architecture | Landscape | Interiors category that Mt SAC ID cannot offer you. The first is Technologies and Ecologies I, but you may take AGOR 13: Landscape Design. The second is the Studio 2 Landscape Design class which I would recommend you take on the Otis campus.

Here is a link to all their classes.

This is the Junior Jump:

Please Note: CALIFORNIA COLLEGES JUNIOR TRANSFER CHART TO Architecture | Landscape | Interiors Major on the Otis website is currently out-of-date and will be restructured in the near future

What’s the studio environment like?

The Architecture | Landscape | Interiors program at Otis takes up the entire 5th floor of the Emerson Hall. It’s a square building with the studios and lecture classrooms lining the outside walls. The walls on the core of the floor are lined with student projects that start from the foundation courses and wrap around to the Sr. Level Projects.

The studios are simple, efficient, bright, open and flexible. The desks and tables are moved out of the way when needed, specifically during the senior show in order to create the built environment.

Where are students getting hired?

Otis Architecture | Landscape | Interiors students are hired in a variety of different fields. Here just a few companies hiring Otis graduates: Ball-Nogues Studio, Los Angeles, Chang Jo Architects, Seoul, L I G H T I N G D E S I G N A L L I A N C E, Long Beach, and Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP, Los Angeles.

The interdisciplinary approach at Otis is truly remarkable. After leaving, Otis students are going on to earn a master’s degree in architecture, landscape architecture or interior architecture. Some enter the workforce to gain the experience needed to become licensed architects and lighting designers. I really appreciate this program because of its broad perspective. It provides students with a variety of skills and pathways after graduating.