From an early age, Ally wanted to work in Interior Design. We talk to Ally about her unconventional pathway to get to her dream job.
In a nutshell, what does an Interior Designer do?
An interior designer creates interior spaces into functional, effective and beautiful living areas.
What’s the best thing about being in Interior Designer?
The best thing is definitely the creative aspect of the job.
What soft and hard skills have you found vital to your job?
Reading, writing, IT knowledge and maths are essential. But soft skills will make or break you in the industry. So communication, teamwork, problem-solving and basic work ethic are vital.
Describe what your average day at work looks like?
For me every day is different and that can hold its own excitement and challenges. Generally I would start by checking emails and social media. I’ll conduct site visits, meet with trade professionals, make product selections and place orders. I’ll work on concept plans and sketches for projects. There’s also visual curation such as mood boards and materialisation.
What are some of the challenges?
Depends on where you position yourself within the industry. But challenges can pop up at any given time. Design is a service industry. We have to communicate with many different people. From the client to the builder, to the electrician, to the joiner, to the upholsterer… the list goes on. The organisation and execution of your design needs to be clear with everyone. Sometimes you’ll find that others have ideas that don’t fit into your original plan. This can be frustrating, disheartening and challenging. This is where your soft skills of communication and flexibility can come in handy!
"Take the pathway that suits you the best. Unconventional does not mean unemployable."
What drew you to Interior Design in the first place?
As a child I was always interested in colour, balance and how different items can come together. This progressed into changing the placement of furnishings in my bedroom. I designed alternative floor plans for our home and constructed dolls houses. So it has always been an interest and a dream to work in the industry.
How long have you worked in the field?
I worked in the property development field for around 3 years. Then I took the leap to undertake formal learning in 2015 while running another business. It wasn’t until 2018 that I launched my consultation business and have been near full time ever since.
What study pathway did you take to become an Interior Designer?
I didn’t have the conventional start to the industry through the university pathway. I worked in colour consultation and project management for a building development company. That’s where my passion for all things design was re-established. Running another business with 3 young children was difficult. I needed to find a way to gain an education in the field without interrupting our lives too much. I knew university was not an option. So I researched my options to find several online courses. These offered accredited interior design and decoration diplomas. I ended up completing one part-time diploma over a 12 month period. I refer to myself as an ‘interior consultant’ since I didn’t go to university. But this has not affected my business model, nor the demand for my services.
What advice would you give someone thinking of becoming an Interior Designer?
Never stop observing design and what makes it work and what doesn’t. Take the pathway that suits you the best. Unconventional does not mean unemployable. Show interest in all that the career has to offer. There are many branches and paths you can take to becoming a designer. This includes Commercial design. Gallery curation. Colour consultation. Furniture design. Interior architecture. Graphic design. Hospitality design. Styling and property staging, and more.