Elizabeth Benedict (Certificate, 2006) joins & Then as a guest blogger. If you are interested in being our next guest blogger please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I had just had my first kid when I went back to school for design. My husband could see that I was so used to corporate life, that while I loved being a mother, I certainly wasn’t ready to be a homemaker. He enrolled me in the Intro class at NESAD before my son was a year old and said that my path was up to me. I took the advice and ran with it – finished the then Certificate program and hung my own shingle in 2005. Happily still in business, I now have my own assistant. It makes me regret never being an intern.
Interior Design is so much more than what you learn in school. It is so much more than the confidence you have in your own style or the desire that you have to design for someone else. It’s time management, and people management, and math, and science, and scheduling, and billing, and dealing with so many outside forces that you have no control over (like shippers and receivers and dye lots and backorders and custom finishes that require more than one strike off). For me, I love the beginning phase of this cycle – the hellos and the dreams. I love putting together a space (or many spaces within a space). I love the collaboration between the client and the architect and the contractor and me. And then, there’s the middle, and a lot of junk. Junk that I never knew about, since I was never an intern; which, if you do intern, you will know about. And then, most importantly, I love the end, where it’s back to being a collaboration, that’s beautiful and exactly as you imagined it would all work out.
Recently, actually, within the past week, I had two people tell me that they wanted to go back to school for ID – both middle-aged women, with kids. I never thought that I would be one of the designers who would preach – GO BACK TO SCHOOL, WORK IN A FIRM, LEARN FROM SOMEONE IN THE FIELD – but suddenly, it was coming out of my mouth. And I was making sure that I fed them the intern speech – Real life is so much about what happens outside the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I learned so much in those classes (especially rendering from Tommy Yamamoto), but most of what I learned came from what I experienced as an active participant in design. Over the years, that participation has meant traveling (both personally & professionally), being part of trade shows and keeping up with new products, working with showrooms and peers, social media, keeping up with CEUs, learning new technology, and interacting with current students. It’s a big world, inspiration comes in many forms. Concepts grow from ideas that turn into conversations; conversations that you have in the field; experiences that influence you to take the next step.