I had the pleasure of job-shadowing the experienced designer Dawn Gordon. The morning began with running an errand as Dawn had to pay a carpenter for a job since she handles that for some of her clients. Dawn uses the same group of trades for most of her jobs, which gives her trust in her trades and expectations. She tries to use the same carpenter, painter, contractor, tiler, wallpaper hanger and other trades for all her jobs.
Dawn and I visited a new house/mansion in the midst of being built that she was hired to design. Dawn had tried to make this new house look beautiful, but her client was too stubborn and basically did all the design work herself. Even though a lot of the design was not done by Dawn, we toured the house (which was incredibly bizarre-looking) and Dawn made sure the trades were doing the right things. It is a very challenging job because everybody likes to express their personality through their home, which isn’t always the most flattering look. Dawn tries her best to take a client’s personality and make the home look its best, giving each home a unique look and flair.
It was a great experience job-shadowing Dawn. Although one client didn’t really listen to all of her advice, Dawn has a lot of clients that really trust her. She can offer advice to clients on paint colours, fabric selection, furniture placement, and purchases of all household items. She says she has built great relationships with many clients—and that seemed obvious to me because she has unbelievable people skills. Word-of-mouth referrals drive her business so she has to be great each time.
Surprising Fact: Interior designers have to drive a lot. In just a few hours, Dawn can visit many clients all over the city. So if you’re going to become an interior designer, be prepared to drive.
A Typical Day
Dawn Gordon, an established interior designer, meets with 5 or 6 clients a day to give advice on their projects. She also organizes and handles the trades and develops plans and sketches. She has done many residential projects around Toronto and some restaurants, hotels, and offices too.
Top 3 Perks
1) Build relationships with clients
2) Flexible hours
3) Seeing your work pay off (you get to see your drawings and ideas come to fruition)
Thinking creatively, drafting plans and sketches, talking face to face with clients, scheduling trades, working with architects, indoors and outdoors, lots of driving
1) Complete a design program at an accredited college (2-3 years) or a university interior design program (4 years)
2) Get experience with a qualified designer
3) Pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam
Interpersonal skills, creativity, design sense, organizational, social perceptiveness, persuasion, near vision, drawing ability.
- The interior design business is driven by relationships.
- One client can refer 5 or 6 more clients.
- There is a green movement to use eco-friendly materials.