Things Every Designer Should Know, But Aren't Taught in Scho...

Things Every Designer Should Know, But Aren't Taught in School

NELSON Blogger
Thursday, August 10th, 2017
School will prepare and teach designers a lot of things, but there are still some things you won't learn until you're on the job.
What Every Designer Should Know, But Aren’t Taught In School
Each year, thousands of interior designers enter the workforce. A variety of courses ranging from math to graphic design, to various components that make up a space is required for a Bachelor’s degree.  And while the classroom can show the mechanics behind using a computer to aid in drafting and design, there are some things that you should know but aren’t taught in the classroom.  We asked some our designers, new and seasoned, what they thought was important for interior designers to know and here’s what they said:

Aurora F. Cammarata
Director of Business Development:

How firms actually get work: I was a guest at the BAC masters in architecture class – they spent 2.5 hours in the entire year discussing how to determine your backlog, how to develop a multiplier, how to write a proposal, how to develop a winning interview and networking/finding new work. 

Paul Koch
Senior Architect

Learning Doesn’t Stop Because You Graduated: Strive to learn something new every day. Keep learning and this will make you more valuable in a team. Learn to collaborate. Learn from your peers. Identify Mentors. GROW!

Kendra Preteroti

I learned it was unethical to steal pens from your company, but not the importance of networking: I had one class that dealt with professional practice, but I don’t recall learning much about the importance of networking or how to do it. This is something that also came up recently at an event I was at for professionals the need for identifying mentors and sponsors, and the difference between the two. For those of you who don’t know the difference (because I didn’t): a mentor is someone you go to for advice or learning material, whereas a sponsor is someone who will promote you to
others when you are not present (and by promoting, I mean speak highly of you, not promote you to a higher position). I think that needs to be reiterated in school.

Lauren Perich

Here’s my list of what you should know:
-How to structure an entire set of commercial construction drawings and what is expected on each sheet
-Construction Administration – the ins and outs
-How to do a good site survey
-Politics/Relationships between consultants on a project and across the industry
-How to keep up with products/technology/advancements/etc on your own time
-The many types of structures within design firms, pros, and cons
-How a proposal is structured. 

Roslyn Zumbrunnen
Design Director

So much of design is psychology: Needing to understand what a client wants, even without the client being able to articulate it. Or telling them what they want, because they don’t know. Same goes internally, understanding what makes people tick.
Design is not a 40 hour a week profession: Good design takes time, which doesn’t always fit in an 8-5 timeframe. But the payoff of a happy client and well-designed space is worth it!
Design isn’t just about Design: It is also business development, accounting, people (client and staff) management, etc. ALL of those need to happen if you want to be profitable. Sometimes is painful, but necessary. And ALL designers should understand the process.
Scott Hierlinger
Principal, Design Director 
The importance of public speaking and the idea of selling:  A great design will not come to reality if you can’t colorfully detail the project in speech and then be able to articulate the benefits and reasons for the project.  
How to juggle projects:  School does not prepare for the art of handling multiple projects at once and keeping your mind of the most critical.  You simply can’t drop projects because something else comes along. Every project is important.
You are a designer…thus you need to act the part, sell the part and speak the part:  The outside world has a viewpoint of what a designer is.  You need to keep in mind how and what you are coming to the table with and ensure you are putting your best self forward.  Your reputation is built on multiple and multiple interactions.
What are some things you have learned in your years as a Designer or Architect that you didn’t learn in school, but are beneficial to your career? Share them with us on LinkedIn.