Interview with an Interior Designer : Amy Beauchamp

fghtytywAmy Beauchamp has been teaching students beginning Interior Design at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She also runs her own successful Interior Design business. Although she keeps quite a busy schedule, Amy graciously took the time to talk with us about making the most out of an education in Interior Designing and getting that first start.

What are some important things to think about when deciding on an interior design school?

Really talk to the professors and the other students if you can in the department at the schools you are looking at! Look over resource libraries, browse through their projects on display. More and more, the industry is passing legislation that you have to be a licensed designer. By passing the NCIDQ (National council of interior design qualification) exam in order to practice. With that, there is discussion and/or legislation being passed that you have to attend a FIDER accredited institution. I would encourage that as well.

What is a big misconception an outsider might have about interior designer?

On my first day of class I told my students that this isn’t Trading Spaces and if you think it is, check your schedule, you are in the wrong class!!! People think it’s just about the “fluff” and just spending someone else’s money to “make it look pretty”. Designers are responsible for many aspects of a building. Education in Interior Design is a must!

What advice do you give students who want to become interior designers?

Begin to gather your resources where you live and where you attend school! Get to know your future colleagues. Try working or shadowing a designer for a week or two to see if it’s really what you think it is!

Get geared up to be technical – not just creative. Our field is very demanding and can take a lot out of you. Always be aware of your surroundings. However, like I tell my students, don’t go into a place leisurely with friends/family and critique it to death. If you do, you won’t enjoy the time for why you are really there. Separate yourself from your profession! It will drive you crazy later.

As a professor, what are some of the mistakes you see your students making?

Honestly, my students are doing beautifully across the board, (I’ll brag about them). I guess most freshmen still need to understand portfolio quality work from the get go. They just spend way too many hours on their projects to not be proud of their work. That and maybe get into the mindset of what they’ve been “taught” by HGTV or Trading Spaces! Those are good shows, but this is a very technical field. Breaking some of those molds is tough. Oh, and not coming to class can really hurt them too, you have to build from square one and stay on top of it.

What are some of the right things you see students doing?

Getting it! Applying real life principles and examples to what they are learning, “getting it” makes it more tangible for them. I love to see the light-bulbs go on. One of my favorite quotes is, “I heard and I forgot, I saw and I remembered, I did and I understood.” That’s what I’m trying to do with my students and it seems to be working.

What are the most important skills an aspiring interior designer needs to have?

Determination, constant creativity, people skills and patience. Having a trained eye for things, applying your education to everything and good business sense is a must. Also, think out side the box and always be looking for new ideas and utilize references and resources. In other words – go spend quality time at Barnes and Noble! Take your sketchbook and ‘practice, practice, practice’ your craft!

What suggestions do you have for students while they are job searching!

Don’t get discouraged. Just sell yourself. Some students have a hard time with “bragging” on themselves. Do it! You’ve worked hard, hopefully and if you’ve done your homework on the company/designer you are interviewing with before hand, you should be able to focus towards being a dynamic team member for their company and tell them why. Have a fantastic looking resume. Get involved with school clubs/organizations. I recommend, ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), IIDA (International Interior Design Association) and volunteer for work projects with organizations like Habitat for Humanity. All this may be impressive, especially for a student who doesn’t have much experience. Don’t worry. Remember the person you are interviewing with had to have someone give them their start too. Don’t be afraid to ask for your start with them.

What are some hot trends in interior designing right now?

You really see a lot of the Country French, a lot of distressed blacks, and reds also, Contemporary versions of vintage prints from the 20’s and reds and golds are still around. But trends tend to be leaning more towards the muted tones, coppers, rusts and pale blue-greens. The animal print is around some but I see it fading off. I am seeing more subtle prints, not so much CRAZY bright and bolds.

Where do you see the interior design industry moving in the next ten years?

I’ve noticed that more and more people are building quality – with or without quantity. I admire that! Like it has for centuries, trends change but I expect there to be consistency in design, as far as workmanship and creativity in concerned. With the resources that we have at our disposal and constant innovative designs – there’s no telling what builders/architects and designers can come up with together!

Who are some of the best interior designers today? And what, in your opinion, makes them great?

Every one is different! I honestly couldn’t tell you. However, what makes a great designer is the person who knows their clients needs and makes those things happen. It’s not what the designer “thinks” they should have in there. The designer doesn’t live/work there. The client does. One of my favorite verses in the Bible, references the thought – “a great castle does not mean he is a great king”. Just because I create something beautiful, doesn’t make me a good designer. I want to be good in all aspects of design, i.e., taking care of people, business principles, constantly learning new things and going the extra mile.

What would be your dream interior design/redesign project?

Having no budget of course! No seriously, there are a couple things, I would love to get involved more with the types of companies that are adopting families and tearing apart their homes and rebuilding to suit their needs (extreme makeover) but also historic buildings! I’ve always wanted to gut out one of those!

Okay, what do you really think about shows like Trading Spaces and Designer’s Challenge?

HA! I think they are good for what they are – inspiring people to get creative and show them ideas of what to do. However, I don’t agree with the emphasis that the general public seems to take from it. For instance; in most cases, you cannot go in and redo an entire room for a thousand dollars. Not to say you can’t, and that it would turn out beautifully. I just find clients almost get frustrated when they want to tear apart everything and then start over, but at the bottom line price tag, it’s not a $1,000.00. I try to emphasize to my students that this is a technical field as well as creative and knowing what you are legally responsible for goes way beyond just a TV show. The joy of TV is that you can also EDIT!!!! In real life – there is no editing. You have to take the good with the bad!

The student version of the redecorating show is better I think. In the respect that hopefully, those students have gone through a strenuous program and are now getting the opportunity to understand the “real” stresses of the job and what it takes to make all that come together. But, no pressure being on TV and all!

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