I have found myself repeating this to my mentees and I realize it is something I am quite passionate about. For me, being a designer is a lifestyle. Ok, I understand and am totally cool with being an archi-nerd that takes everything I do a little too seriously, however, I think you need a little crazy passion for what you do in order to really have the drive as a designer and business owner to keep yourself going in the design industry.
So why is being an interior designer a lifestyle? Well in part I think it needs to be because there really aren’t enough hours in the day to do our awesome job as well as soak up and keep learning new information. Also, as design is not only our profession but also our passion, we are constantly on the lookout to learn more and have more fun (calling it work ha ha).
When I worked at architects offices and my mates went out for drinks, I would stay back at work so that I could take a couple of hours off to go to a trade show the next day. When everyone else was out at lunch, I was reading the latest interior design and architecture magazines and adding to my knowledge during my lunch breaks. It wasn’t forced, I wanted to do it, in fact I am so obsessed with design that when I wasn’t working, I found myself working just because I loved it.
Now as a business owner I can spread things out a little more as I am in control, but if I had a choice I would be engulfed by my design world at all times. Even if I am one extreme, I do believe that there are elements of this that those who are wanting to get into interior design can start including into their lives in order to maximize the learning time and speed up their success.
An Interior Designers (and architects) lifestyle usually entails:
Trade & Manufacture Shows
In order to stay abreast of the industry and know what is current and what is coming up, you need to be constantly exploring showrooms, manufacturers and speaking with people. This means you need to make time to go to trade shows make connections and network continuously. There are so many trade shows each year, now I choose which ones I want to go to at the beginning of the year and book my tickets early. It would be a full-time job alone attending these trade shows, so in order to even make a few each year, you need to include it into your lifestyle as employers in the industry rarely allow you to go to these important events during their work time (even if it is “work-related”).
Art, Architecture & Design
Continuously learning and growing my knowledge about art, architecture, building materials, furniture and design is something I include into my “free” time. I’m lucky my husband is arty too because it means we can have a critical conversation about an artist or artwork which explores theories and opens our eyes to new possibilities and themes. Going to a museum on the weekend or popping into a gallery to get inspiration or learn something new is not only fun but helps you to gain knowledge in the industry in a different way. Often our clients are educated and being able to connect with them and understand why they appreciate a particular style is critical to the work we do and to our success in our profession.
Our work is so much fun that it is hard to break away and so our interests oscillate around our industry somehow. When I’m not designing buildings, I’m looking at them, critically analysing them, recreating them, making them better. Even when I am out and about, if I have the choice of walking a different route that has nicer buildings or is more inspiring in some way (even if it is much longer), I always take that path. I can’t stop looking at buildings and designing, its an addiction and an obsession, but ask any passionate designer what they are thinking about when they are trawling through Rightmove (and they aren’t even looking to buy or rent a property…)
Travel & Culture
The first holidays I ever went on by myself were to Europe (from Australia). I needed to see those cities. I needed to experience their vibe and understand their energy. There are things that you cannot learn from books like the experience of sitting in an Italian Piazza drinking a hot espresso on a hot Italian summers day, surrounded by marble and high calibre design.
As an Aussie these places were so foreign to me I just didn’t get it. Now I do, now I can relate and now I know how imperative it is to immerse myself in new cultures and get hungry to learn and explore the essence of a new place. This makes me a better designer, it helps me relate and it teaches me that creating spaces is more than just paint and surfaces, it’s about atmosphere and invigorating all of the senses.
Seeking Beauty & Inspiring Surroundings
When I moved out of London to a dull suburb town, I realized how much this affected my wellbeing. It’s not that everything around me has to be beautiful but seeking the beauty in things is an innate need we have as designers and so we not only gravitate towards funky, cool or beautiful spaces, we need them in order to refuel our souls and get inspiration. This means yes, you’ll find us probably in the coolest looking café in the street where we are paying an extra £2 per coffee, but the experience for us is worth it.
That is life for a designer, it’s our life juice and our creative outlet. So while there are those out there that can put up with mediocre surroundings, we are imagining new and amazing places for others who appreciate spaces for self-expression and creative re-fueling.
There is a reason why we are constantly making everything beautiful wherever we go (even if it’s just in our heads). For me (and also for some of my mentees) the definition of insanity is being somewhere else in your mind whilst physically being in a job that is unfulfilling and uses zero creativity.
We yearn for the creative release because it is part of our personalities and soul. That is why we can’t separate it from our daily lives and that is why design becomes our lifestyle. We seek it out in everything we do.