Is there a good way to get into interior design from retail space planning?

Making a career change from business strategies to creativity.

Is there a good way to get into Interior Design from Retail Space Planning?

I graduated in 2006 with BA Interior Design, but from moving back into London to save money I was not able to find permenant design work.

I managed to get opportunities within Retail Space Planning, from both making displays in visual merchandising to drafting seasonal store plans. However, the transition from in-house space planning to store planning/retail design and interior design has not been an easy task.

I feel my skills have been pushed to one side in terms of creativity to focus on meeting business strategies. It has not been challenging and stimulating as originally hoped. Do you have any advice in making the big step to a career change?

— Sabrina

Expert answers

Helen Hughes's reply:

Hi Sabrina

An interior design agency will look for a few things at interview, a current portfolio of design projects showing both creative and technical ability and relevant work experience for the position applied for.

I would first review or create your portfolio using completed retails projects showing techincal drawings, sketches and photographs were possbile and add to that a number of self generated interior projects showing your design skills, presentation ability and creative process. If you do not have 3d sketching or modelling experience I would suggest downloading the free version of Sketch-Up, it is relatively easy and quick to learn and will be another skill you can offer. In addition to this you may want to think about a pinterest or instagram account that you could use to show your broader interests in design, you can add these links to a cv or folio for prospective employers to review.

Your skills and experience to date are relevant to the role of a designer, especially for companies who specialise in retail design such as London based Dalziel and Pow. Research specific retail interior design companies, follow them on social media and get to know their work and projects. Referencing a companies projects will be a great advantage when it comes to interview.

Direct, speculative applications are one way of approaching a company but you can always use agencies to help you find a position. Most good agencies will interview you first and dicusss your portfolio and give advice as to what their clients will be looking for in a candidate and give you realistic expectation from your experience to date.

I hope you will find this useful. Good Luck!

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