7. Alternatives to an Interior Design Degree – Independent Study
If you want to learn how to become an interior designer but the traditional path of design school isn’t for you, you can undergo independent study. You may have certain limitations in some states as to where you can work without licensure, and licensure requires education. However, there are many interior design career opportunities available for self-taught designers, provided that they have the same robust skills that a design school graduate does.
Here are the basic concepts you’ll need to study:
Principles of Interior Design
Read books and study other materials that cover the basics of interior design, including the principles of color, light, scale, and space. Learn how to design a space from concept to completion.
Drawing and Perspective
As an interior designer, you’ll need to create sketches of your ideas to show to clients. Learning how to draw well is essential, as is learning how to use perspective. These skills allow you to sketch a room with proportionate furniture with accurate angles and placement to give a feel for your design vision.
While learning to be adept at creating sketches of your design ideas manually is important, so is learning today’s tools of the interior design trade, including computer-aided design (CAD). CAD allows you to render your design ideas in 2D or 3D models with color, texture, and other fine details. With augmented reality technology, you can photograph a space, upload the image to a CAD program, and design within the actual space and its constraints.
Architecture and Design History
To ensure you have a good foundational background in design and architecture, it’s important that you study the history of interior design and decorative arts and architecture. Study both contemporary architecture and design and that of ancient civilizations who still influence design concepts today. Gain a basic understanding of furniture styles, classical design forms, decorations through the ages, and the use of motifs.
Lighting is one of the most important concepts in interior design, so it’s a good idea to comprehensively study this area. You should understand different types of light, how light bends and reflects, and how to use it to draw attention to the most important parts of your design. You should also learn how to use light functionally — not only should lighting complement your design aesthetics, it should also complement the behaviors of the people who use that space.
Use of Color
Color evokes strong emotions and can be used in interior designs to create spaces that serve different purposes. For example, yellow is typically associated with food or eating and is often used in restaurants and kitchens. Blue is calming, and red is energizing. Study the psychology of color to learn the wheel and how complementary and contrasting colors can be used within a design to add further functionality to the space you’re creating. Nick Kolenda wrote an anormous guide around color psychology.
Local Laws and Codes
If you’re embarking on a course of independent study to learn how to be an interior designer, you may not need to be ultra-savvy when it comes to building codes and local laws. However, you should still have a basic understanding of electricity and wiring, building and plumbing codes, load-bearing walls, and how they relate to or impact the design process or your end design.