Basic Skills Every Interior Designer Should Have
Every professional, regardless of industry, education, and interest, requires a certain skillset. Many of these skills can be learned in school, while just as many are learned on the job. However, there is a subsection of professional expertise that is not easily grasped: people skills. And, if you’re in the design industry, this are essential to the livelihood of your business.
Whether you work independently or as part of a larger firm, so-called “people skills” are an indispensable part of your job. In most cases, this means having good listening skills, communication, and relatability. Design work is more hands-on and client-centric than most industries, elevating the importance of these strengths. If you have not perfectly honed your ability to have an excellent relationship with a client, your design work will suffer. Portfolios and example work can only take interior designers and stages so far.
Listening—Home design is necessarily collaborative. If you are an interior designer, you must consistently take your client and their preferences into account. Throughout the process, you should check in with them to see if certain details or additions are in line with what they envision their home to look like. Do what you can to stay on top of what your client says; we’ve done everything from excessive note-taking to taking audio recordings of every consultation session. If you’re unsure of what your client wants or communicates, never be afraid to ask for clarification—that small moment can make or break a project.
Communicating—As with any client-facing industry, communication is the key to design success. It is important to communicate every step of the design process—from planning and drafting to budgets and scheduled sessions. If you’re unsure of something, never be afraid to ask the client. If your client is fairly passive throughout the process, continue check in with them to ensure your progress is in line with what they want. Consistent and clear communication is the most important part of any client relationship.
Relating—Re-designing a home or getting ready to sell can be an incredibly stressful process. You are, essentially, re-arranging a family’s life right before their eyes. It is therefore of utmost importance that designers remain compassionate and relate to their clients as much as possible. If your client snaps at you during a consultation session, understand the amount of strain they are under. If a client has a budgetary issue they failed to communicate, do your best to explain the situation and work within their set parameters. You’d be surprised how far a simple “I understand” can go in this industry.