Rebecca is the kind of person who doesn’t do things by halves. It all began when she left the midlands of England and moved to London for 2 years to do a master’s degree in textile design. 16 years later, she is still in London, with a partner, a dog and a flourishing career in interior design. She has been working for a furniture design company for several years but cut back her days to part-time in order to pursue a textile business of her own. Both jobs involve working alongside interior designers but Rebecca being Rebecca, alongside just wasn’t enough. She needed to know how to do it all herself. Rebecca is a genuine person with a humble honesty. She felt she couldn’t consult, advise, or design without the true credentials to back her up, so she enrolled in the British Academy of Interior Design. Today she is a fully fledged interior designer and very comfortable running her own studio, Markless Design.
Q. So, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Rebecca Markless and how would you describe yourself?
A. I would describe myself as a colour and pattern enthusiast!
Q. What were you looking for in a course? What was it that motivated you to choose British Academy of Interior Design?
A. I work in a furniture design company but moved to part time because I was doing my textile design business on the side. I have always been interested in interior design and I work with designers in my job. I felt it would be another string to my bow and I was interested in filling the gaps of my knowledge. Mostly I wanted to gain the confidence to walk into someone house and give them advice. I wanted to feel like I had the authority to give people my opinions. There were elements I didn’t know from my career that I wanted to fill those gaps.
Q. What were your expectations when you started your course and have they been met?
A. My expectations were exceeded. I expected to learn how to put a design together and about Project Management and how to interact with people, but I didn’t expect to get as much in terms of historical design and architecture. That was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed learning that. The thing that really exceeded my expectations was my tutor. He was a working, professional interior designer and I found that so helpful. Someone literally doing the job day-to-day gave us an insight into the business and a lot of his wisdom. I really felt I benefitted from the advice and insights of a professional working in the industry and with hands on experience.
Q. What can you tell us about your prior experience with interior design?
A. Working with interior designers as part of the furniture design job and my business with textiles introduced me to a small element of interior design and helped me want to move into it. I had some information but mostly the boring bits, not actually as a designer.
Q. Why did you choose the classroom-based option?
A. I learn better in a classroom. I am self-motivated but I respond better to class times, and I learn better when I am in a room where the conversation can meander into different areas. That is really interesting to me. It sticks in my brain better. I also enjoyed having classmates. We formed a group from day one where we talk about assignments and even though we finished last year we still talk and share experiences.
Q. What were the benefits and challenges you found in attending the live classes versus online classes?
A. I find it hard to motivate myself with just online class work. There is a lot of great information, but I prefer not to have to sift through it all myself. Online is great with all the tutors who are always available to help. The forum online was also great. I loved the visual aspect too. Designers are visual people and the online recap at home was great.
Q. Did you enjoy the experience of having contact with other students in the classes? Do you believe it helped your learning process?
A. It was really nice to have that community where we are all in the same boat. The camaraderie of supporting each other was brilliant during the assignments.
Q. What in the course surprised you the most?
A. How much time the assignments took and the level of detail you needed for top marks, which I am always aiming for. There was a lot of history of design and art and I really enjoyed that. I think it’s really important to have a knowledge of what came before historically before you can move forward. It’s important to be sympathetic to old buildings and incorporate the architecture in your designs.
Q. You have finished the course with us a year ago…what are you doing now and what has changed for you?
A. I still work part time for the furniture design company, but I am now also doing interior design myself. The course gave me skills and confidence and I am set up as a professional interior designer. I am doing site visits with clients. It’s exactly what I wanted, and I am so happy.
Q. How do you think this course has helped or transformed your career?
A. The academy gave me the confidence to use the skills and tools to do it myself. You can learn skills, but some stuff can’t be taught but to be confident enough to advise a client is all a client wants. They want someone who is instils confidence in them through their advice and knowledge. Before I got my Diploma, I felt my advice wasn’t quite worth someone’s money. I feel now I am qualified and can legitimately ask to be paid. It is about self-worth and self-belief.
Q. What artists or designers inspire you and where else do you draw your inspiration from?
A. There are so many! I saw a brilliant Milton Avery exhibition last year. I love Hockney, Rothko anyone who uses colour in interesting ways is really inspiring to me. Kit Kemp, Studio Ashby, people that layer pattern, textiles, and colour. Barlow & Barlow interior design company. And I love architecture. I am lucky living in London, there is so much amazing architecture. I love mid-century, Bauhaus, Brutalism. It’s so important to look at the architecture and use it as part of the design. I get design magazines every month. I can’t throw them away. They are great for reference.
Q. Can you tell us about your favourite project to date either academic or nonacademic?
A. I have had a few clients now as a professional, but my favourite was a full house renovation in Wimbledon. They were brilliant clients and were great at taking my advice and running with it. They let me use colour and pattern and we did the whole house top to bottom, and they were really pleased with it. In terms of the course, we did a studio apartment assignment that was great because it was a really small space and you really have to think about small spaces in different and interesting ways.
Q. What do you consider to be your biggest strength as a professional in the interior design industry?
A. My eye for colour is my natural strength. That comes naturally to me, and I really enjoy that but my other strength, which is more of a learned strength is my ability to listen. It’s so important to listen to people and to clients. It’s their home and when talking to them you need to listen carefully and pick out what they really need. In my limited experience, people will tell you everything they like but picking out the important information, that is really key. That is my other strength.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling in this course?
A. You have to be all in. I worked part time, but it is so time consuming so be prepared. If you want to do well, you really need to take the time and energy and weekends and things like that. But go for it, it’s a brilliant course. The Diploma is an accreditation that is really earned but it’s an in-depth course. What appealed to me was the qualification in the Diploma. You will get out of it what you put in.