In this blog, Colette O’Sullivan tells us what got her interested in design, why she enjoys working with students and what makes a good interior designer.
What do you enjoy most about being an interior designer?
The fact that every day is different and that no two projects, or indeed two clients are alike. Being an interior designer gives me the opportunity to create and enhance the living or working environment for my client. Interior design is more than choosing cushions and curtains, it’s about problem solving and finding the best solution and this is definitely one of my favourite aspects of the job.
What got you interested in interior design?
My interest in architecture and design started at a young age. My father worked in the building industry so I grew up surrounded by technical drawings and this sparked my interest. Following a lot of persuasion, my father agreed to take me on-site where I gained first-hand experience of new builds and renovation projects. Then a work-placement in an architect’s office confirmed that there was no other career path for me. That was over 20 years ago, I have never once regretted my decision to pursue a career in design.
What interior design styles do you lean towards?
I am a great admirer of everything from mid-century modern through to Scandinavian style design. I have definitely been influenced by a wide selection of design styles in the past. Everything around us is designed and as a designer you are constantly drawing from the past and looking forward.
However, I feel that a design should respond to the client and their property. You need to know your client and gain an understanding of what they need and want from a design. Having a trademark style can arguably heighten your recognition as a designer but I feel that it can sometimes lead to a limited viewpoint.
What do you enjoy most about working with students of interior design?
Working with design students gives me the opportunity to impart my experience and knowledge about interior design and the industry. There is a great sense of satisfaction when a student you have been working with over a period of time grasps a skill they were struggling with or makes a well-informed observation about a design. For me, following the progression of a student through their interior design course and on to graduation is extremely rewarding.
What do our courses offer students of interior design?
The sheer range of courses we offer gives students the opportunity to learn according to their needs or the path they want to choose. From someone who is simply looking to design their own home, to someone who is looking for a change in career, there is a course suited to them. Students learn a range of valuable practical skills and importantly, how to develop an interior design project from concept to completion. Depending on the course level, students will learn about domestic as well as commercial interior design.
How have you helped shape these courses?
Interior design is never static. For that reason it is really important to constantly review the interior design courses we offer. The assignments and modules are shaped around real life scenarios which allow the students to develop a comprehensive understanding of what will be required of them in a professional capacity. Students learn more from practical exercises and we use this as a template when we design our courses.
What do you think makes a good interior designer?
Having the skill set is a key part of the job but a good interior designer must be able to listen and communicate extremely well with everybody, from the client to the different tradespeople on-site. Not everything that you have put on paper will work in reality and you must be able to react to the situation in front of you. Keeping calm and thinking on your feet is a valuable skill.
How do you think the issue of sustainability is having an effect on interior design?
Undoubtedly there is growing awareness of sustainable design and that can only be a good thing from a design point of view. Both clients and designers are becoming more conscious of what and how they design. And I feel that sustainable design should be considered throughout the entire project. A well-designed interior should enhance the quality of life for the end user. In general, a design should impact as little as possible on the environment and be as energy efficient as possible. I feel that we are starting to step away from a throw-away culture and moving towards designing more flexible interiors which can adapt and grow with us as our needs change.
If you could spend a day with any interior designer, dead or alive, who would that be and why?
I would love to spend a day with Suzie McAdam, an Irish based interior designer, who designs both residential and commercial interiors. I really enjoy the innovation and at times, the playfulness she brings to her designs. Her work is diverse and interesting, and full of attention to detail. Everything in her designs is considered and the execution is exemplary.
You’re an affiliate member of the British Institute of Interior Design. How do you use this membership to continue to build your knowledge of the industry?
As a professional in the industry, membership of BIID is a great way for me to keep up-to-date with latest developments and changes. I also use it for my own personal development and upskilling.
To find out how you become an interior designer, visit our courses page.