Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Dress up interiors

Interior designers are in demand not just to decorate homes and apartments, but also exhibitions, showrooms and office space, writes Usha Albuquerque

Every week, the real estate pages of the daily newspapers are full of large and attractive pictures of exotic structures, buildings, homes, offices and new and innovative urban complexes – each displayed in aesthetic ways. Today, when you buy a home or an office, you don’t only get a shell structure, most often the interior space will also have been handled in a creative manner. This is the work of interior designers who work with space, giving it meaning, utility and a pleasing aura.

Interior design encompasses planning space and furnishing the interiors, whether they be private homes, public buildings, or commercial establishments such as offices, hotels, and showrooms, including their renovation and redesign.

The work of interior designers involves working in coordination with architects, as well as painters, artisans, craftsmen and carpenters, creating space within a given structure developed by the architect and putting it to good use, in keeping with the client’s needs and demands.

Areas of work

Interior designers have technical knowledge of buildings and structures. They are trained to plan interior spaces, keeping in mind ventilation, electrical circuits and installations, drainage and water supply, airconditioning and heating systems. The interior designer has to first meet with the client, after which a plan is prepared. Planning an interior (i.e. of a house/ shop/ office/ hotel/ auditorium, etc.) requires extensive and meticulous research before the actual designing can begin. The interior designer should also be aware of the different types of materials available in the market so as to be able to use the right type of material to the best advantage, while at the same time, keeping in mind the utility, aesthetic appeal and economic viability of the design. They then prepare layout plans, elevations, perspectives or even sample models, if required.

On the other hand, interior decorators handle the selection and display of the decorative aspects of a given space. They suggest use of colour, textures, fabrics and decorative materials and light effects. They also give advice on layout and furniture in creating an attractive and functional interior.

 The work is not as glamorous as it appears. Once the design is approved, the designer has to tackle problems of finance, labour, materials, and so on. Budgeting and managing finances is also extremely essential since finance is the basic requirement without which it is impossible to organise either design, materials, or labour. An interior designer must therefore know how to deal with labour, be familiar with all the raw materials, their costing and procurement, and ensure that deadlines are met.


In this creative field, intrinsic talent is a major pre-requisite. There are many successful interior designers who have had no formal training. However, training hones a natural talent or flair for designing. A working knowledge of computers and design-specific applications is also important for all areas of design, as today much of the designing is done through Computer Aided Design (CAD).

The School of Interior Design, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad, offers a five-year professional programme in interior design to students who have completed plus two with science, securing at least 60 per cent marks in the aggregate. Admission is on the basis of an admission test.

Course clues

Training is both theoretical as well as practical. Students are taught drawing work to begin with. Then they undergo basic design exercises. They are also taught history of architecture and furniture, viability of materials relevant to interiors and so on.

Along with classroom training in drawing perspectives and in electrical systems, training is also provided in the functioning of electrical systems, airconditioning, plumbing and acoustics in a detailed manner. Budgeting and public relations are also taught to the students, preparing them to work as independent interior designers in future.

There are also 1-2 year diploma courses that can be pursued after Class XII in any stream. Many of these courses also incorporate practical work to give you the necessary work experience. Polytechnics and vocational training schools in most cities conduct these courses.

In addition to academic qualifications, interior designers need to have an aesthetic sense, creative sensibility and imagination coupled with a logical and analytical mind. As each design project is based on a client’s need, they also must understand people and lifestyles and have an interest in the social environment and the community’s tastes, needs and customs. The ability to draw is a must—they should be able to express their ideas in sketches and translate them into accurate working specifications. They should also be able to work in a team and handle all kinds of people, clients as well as skilled and unskilled workers.

Job prospects

In the current building and construction boom, there is great scope for interior designers. You can choose to work with established interior design organisations, in architects’ firms, or in consultancy firms, or work along with builders and contractors. You can even choose to work as design consultants with big hotels, hospitals, shopping arcades, or even in design studios and furniture stores. It is best for beginners to start work as an apprentice with an established firm of interior designers, and learn the ropes before venturing out on your own. Even though this may not be a very well-paid job, it will give you tremendous opportunities to learn the basics of the work. Interior designers can also work as theatre and set designers working on stage decor for theatre, drama productions or musical shows, and also for creating the scenic background for films and TV shows and serials.

Show time

Other areas of work can include exhibition design where you may be required to plan the entire exhibition site, individual stalls, display panels or even the stage for fashion shows, product launches and other such events.

Interior designers also handle shop window displays, which have of late become an essential part of large retail stores, and company showrooms. Fashion stores often have spring, summer, autumn and winter collection on display. And right now, all stores are busy with displays for the festive season ahead.

Working independently as freelance designers is another option. For those who are creative, interior designing can be a very satisfying profession as it gives tremendous scope for the imagination. So, if you have good taste, love re-arranging your room, and have a keen eye for objects d’art, paintings and pieces of furniture then you can design your own career.

Training talk

Some of the prominent institutions are listed as follows:

  • The School of Interior Design, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad..

  • Apeejay Institute of Design, Tughlaqabad Institutional Area, New Delhi.

  • Exterior-Interiors, F-12, Kalkaji, New Delhi, conducts one year National Diploma course in Interior Design. Branches in Kolkata and Chandigarh.

  • SNDT Women’s University, Nathibai Thakersey Road, Mumbai; (conducts 3-year course in interior design).

  • School of Interior Design and Institute of Environmental Design, Vallabh Vidya Nagar, Gujarat-388120.(4-year course).

  • South Delhi Polytechnic, East of Kailash, New Delhi.

(The list is not exhaustive)

The writer is a noted career expert