The New World of Interior Design

An,Julin_PhotoI love meeting young people; they always have a fresh perspective.

A couple of years ago I was speaking at Jack Laurie Floors and an interior design student, Julin An won an hour consultation with me. We talked about networking, spoke on the phone and I lost track of her.

Two weeks ago Julin reached out to me on Facebook and we discussed where she was in her life. Excitedly Julin told me she recently received her B.S. in Interior  Design from Purdue University, Indianapolis. My best to Julin with her new career.

Julin is a warm, talented and funny young woman—her photo says it all. I’d say she’s also a good networker!

I asked Julin if she would answer a few questions about the nature of design in 2012.

Julin, what is being taught in design school?

As far as design goes, we are taught an array of design principles and values that cover history of art to modern construction and everything in between!

We’re taught how to hand draw while learning composition, perspective and proportion; how to create, read and understand different kinds of construction documents.

One of the most valuable training we get in design school is learning how to work in groups because it relates to real-life practice.  Social skills in a group setting are very important.

Of course, time management is what keeps it all together!

What are the latest software programs? I know 20/20 used to be the staple program and is still used by many firms.

The latest design software programs are Revit, Google Sketch Up, Rhino, 3DSMax (and more). These programs give us the skills to keep us competitive.

Is ‘Green’ really important?

It is extremely important to our environment in the sense that it helps reduce, reuse and recycle materials for another purpose as well as saving energy and costs.

Recycling is such a great preservative to our land and air.  Many people don’t see the importance of recycling and could not care less, but I think people would reconsider once they’ve visited over populated cities and see the accumulated waste and polluted air.

Were there any surprises in design school?

I didn’t know the scope to which “green” design was being applied.  When you hear “green” you generally think of “recycling.”  However, what I have learned through my studies and work experiences is the extent companies go through to be more reasonable in their production and sales.

Manufacturing plants are cutting down their process lines and are creating waste management in the attempt for zero landfills; light bulbs (technically known as luminaries) have had a major transformation in their features and are ultimately becoming cost effective in energy consumption.

These fixtures have time and light sensors to save energy costs; hazardous chemicals are eliminated from products and are replaced for more natural ingredients.

It’s quite impressive how “green” is applied.

How has design changed over the past 10 years?

Jobs are lagging, and companies are downsizing more people are becoming entrepreneurs.

We are using clever sustainable products within the interior, exterior and architectural design as well as the construction processes.

Design objectives have shifted gears from creating privacy to creating open spaces because our society requires collaboration and has altered into a multitasking generation. We are designing for early empty nesters, generation X, Y & Z; and utilizing natural daylight as much as possible.

What about the use of technology and communication?

Technology is playing a huge role.  With all the video conferencing and cyber work, we have to be keen on the newest technology trends to keep our designs up to par, so they cater to the latest technology operations.

What suggestions would you give someone hiring a designer?

As a new designer, I would like to know what companies are looking for. As a recent grad I want to prove that I have the skills to become a great designer. Everyone talks about experience, but it’s hard to have experience until you get your first real job.

I think a neat way of hiring could be to host an “interview mixer” and invite several applicants to partake in the event.  This allows companies to block out a time for interviews, and it also allows more applicants a chance to sell themselves as a designer.

 What suggestions would you give someone contemplating the design field?

This field truly requires passion, drive and a tough mentality.  It’s easy for people to get discouraged in this field, and you really need to have tough skin to survive the constructive criticism. It’s the critique that helps us learn, grow and improve!

I think that some people still think of our field as a glamorized decorating gig. It is extremely demanding with complex tasks and enormous responsibilities.

As an interior designer, you really have to be well-rounded, individual and capable of utilizing both your left and right brain.

I don’t think any of us knew what we were getting ourselves into until we experienced our first all-night design project.

Designers are faced with a lot of challenges which require good social skills and communication skills.

It is an exciting field; every day and every job is different. That’s what makes this such a great profession.

Lisbeth Calandrino is associate publisher and director of social media for Fabulous Floors Magazine. She can be reached at