Before we start, let’s make few things straight, if you here
to find a magical cure, because your deadline is tomorrow and you still want to
go to that club everyone else is going, I would say.. just go to the club..
don’t even bother as this is a post for those who believe in their studies and
also want to make most of it. This is Part 3. How to graduate with First Class Degree in interior design!
This is a little controversial, whether grades are important
or not. I know some people strongly share the ideology that you actually don’t
need good grades to succeed. These, who believe in that, mostly have strong background
in some subject, this could be related PR experience, family or friends
connections who helped to jump via recommendations and references. Most of the successful
non-qualified people had previously good jobs and many influential friends who
helped them achieve or passed them relevant information’s they needed. Another
option is if you start very young in family business or work helping in small
store or architecture practice. If you come from normal family, small town and
genuine don’t know many people connected to interior design world, unless you
are super confident in life to knock specific doors, you most likely are going
to succeed by your own hard work and by gaining good grades. (and this is the
most rewarding feeling ever) Been there, done that!
If you want to graduate with first, you are in the right
place. I cannot guarantee you will get first, but these are the steps I did and
guess what.. I have this very pretty certificate that says ‘’First class Degree’’
and hey I didn’t finished yet;p I also was received a Dean’s award for contribution
to interior design, just to make you feel more motivated, I was also chosen as University
ambassador and I went to China where we did amazing project there! Motivated
1. Start from the beginning! Your tutor will
recognize instantly, whether you do it for yourself or satisfy your parents ‘’because
your older sister did this course as well’’ but you actually don’t like it.
Read here about my ‘’how to become an interior designer’ post to identify whether
you are on the right course and what designer you want to be.
2.Discovery channel. Ask, ask & ask! Don’t be
ashamed. At this stage, your tutor knows, that you know nothing about certain
things. No, they don’t think you thick. First year, is the year where you are
discovering your style, what type of visuals, your personal aesthetics and here
trying new things is very important. You won’t have time for it later. Even if something
goes wrong like program crashed. Don’t give up. Remember every new start is
going to be better! My visuals for example always were much nicer, after I
throw many not polite words toward my computer when it crashed, and I had to do it again! Try to use different media, different textures, use several technics
to create mood boards, drawings etc. Try all, before you decide which works
best for you!
3. Apps and media. Download several apps for your course, I used
apps for visual’s, colour etc. I like Colour911, Photo Measures (handy while
you exploring), after light (great for quick photo adjustment for your
moodboard), Adobe Colour, explore sketchy type apps as well (see which works
for you) Use YouTube tutorials! I thought myself most of the software’s this
way. Download the software’s onto your computer and learn at home. Use uni days
to ask questions, but self-learning software will help you in the future as
each company, use different software and you most like end up working on different
4. Research skills. I know that your tutor, mum, grandpa
and everyone will tell you, use the Library and you do because you have to. I
tell you something; use it because this will help you more in the future! When
you become a designer, a great research skills is essential!! You have to be
fast and find products, information in such a short time! I have joined a
library course on ‘how to research and how to use the library’. It sounds
pretty boring, I know. Believe me, is worth to join. They will share with you
tips and hints how to find books and what you need faster. Google don’t know
everything! Great research skills will
also help you find the information’s others won’t have and you always the extra
points for your tutors and lectures.
go the extra mile’’. You probably heard a lot of that. Simple example. I was
writing an essay and I needed certain images or information’s. I wrote an essay
about female architect and there were no images available online of her early
work, apart from the building she designed available on google or books. Only
images available was from library in USA and access was denied. After several
emails and phone call to the actual Library, I had few days later amazing emails
with attached images, my lectures never seen them before, giving me a bright
and shiny first on my essay, yay! Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone!
6. Don’t be copy cat. Don’t be boring, that’s what
I mean. How many ‘’Scandinavian décor or Chanel pop up store’s your tutor seen?
Be original. It happen, that fellow student may come up with similar idea. Don’t
start blaming each other, most likely you just had mind alike thoughts. It
happens. Forget Picasso ‘’Good designers
copy, great designers steal’’ , I know its fancy, but it won’t get you
anywhere. Even if someone has done an amazing project in the past and you wish
to get same glory. It won’t teach you any new skills. Check what fellow
students are doing, and make sure you do something totally different. Ask your
tutor if this was previously done. You more likely to gain good grades, if you
done a project no one touched before, come across challenges and finished with
7. Problem solving skills! Find yourself a
challenging project. Something you think you can’t do it. Well, you think for now,
but learn this attitude instead ‘’ I can do it’’. Talk to your tutor about potential
problems, make them aware what you dealing with. If you come with your project,
perfectly prepared to each presentation, throwing answers like David
Copperfield playing card from his sleeves, your tutor will assume your project
is way too easy. In real project, problems are ALWAYS! Starting from dimensions,
to client changing their mind finishing up with contractors and technical
problems on site. If your project is too easy, change. Challenge yourself! Develop
your ideas. Your tutor, most likely is going to give you new tasks and ask you
to change things which will drive you nuts! Believe me, they not doing this because
they actually put accidentally put too much sugar in his coffee and is too
hyper, no. They do this, because they want you to be prepared for real life.
8. Don’t be afraid of silly ideas. Even if you
think ‘Oh my God, this is stupid’ as long as is not offensive or harmful-
nothing is stupid. You will develop that and change it at further stage. All my ideas, sounded strange at first, but
it turns out to be awesome! So, carry on, you are designer, you suppose go mad!
Even if something sounds bonkers, all my projects started from silly ideas, but
I was different. Didn’t I mention I was the only girl who achieved First in my
1. Team work. Even if you have the most amazing leading
skills, let others speak. Fellow students were accepted into the course for some
reasons. They are as good as you are. Listen what they saying and take it on
board. Learning how to work in team at this stage will also help in the future.
You also most likely scoop better grades for project, showing maturity but
also, each of you can add something important.
2. Last minute changes. If you not sure about
something that means you don’t believe in this and no point of carry on.
Change. No regrets!
3. Buy notepad and carry with you everywhere and
have a spare one next to your bed. Honestly, the best ideas come when you are relaxed
with friends in town, after 2 prossecco’s or after you just wake up. You also
may have dream about something bonkers! Write it down!
4. Go and explore. When you do a certain project,
go to similar environment and observe how people work there. What is
functional, what needs improvement? Photograph and write down your thoughts,
you may forget later and sometimes the outcome may surprise you at later stages
of your project.
5. Selling your project. I don’t mean here, to cashing
out year below student for the project ;). I mean Presenting! Presentation
skills, are achievable even for the most shy person ever! If you took previous drama
lessons, then you know what I am talking about if not, maybe try them? Tone of
your voice is important. When you talk, you have to specifically accent certain
words, you have to make sure everyone else is engaged. Try to add to each of your
presentation a little something in the beginning, a story? Something that may surprise
everyone. Sell your project like you were selling a product. Make sure you
prepared for potential questions. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses
on your project.
6. Managing your time. Get yourself a planner. Give
yourself tasks to complete each day. Be reasonable. Don’t put too much knowing
you won’t achieve it, as it will work opposite. Don’t go sleep until you complete
them. You will get into a routine soon. Don’t worry if you skipping this Aaamazing
party the everyone will be on! You have bloody 3 years to party! In the future,
your mates won’t pay your bills. Is good to keep up with friends but honestly,
sometimes having that extra time for yourself will give you a lot! Reward
yourself. You will feel more motivated.
7. Organisation. Buy external hard drive. Label each
project and create sub folders. Keep your research separate to drawing folders.
It’s very easy to get messy in your computer. Don’t delete anything, transfer
to your external hard drive. It will make you faster and more productive, and
believe me is so easy lost control and fulfil your computer with crap!
8. Get involve with the University community. You
can become a course leader or course ambassador. Your tutors will definitely appreciate
your engagement, also then you have an opportunity to speak on behalf all
students and you can show your maturity and objectivity. Also, work experience is important. You can use university resources or applied directly with companies.
9. No pain no gain. As we speak. Work bloody hard! Always
ask yourself, Is it good enough? I have worked on stair design and each time my
tutor told me, is good, I came back home and developed. I ended up having 90%
for this project! There is always place for improvement.
10. Use your uni workshops as much as you can. Even
if means after uni hours, get your hands dirty and explore this area’s. It’s
fun but also will teach you how to do better models, and will help you to understand
from technical point of you.
11. Take breaks. Sometimes things don’t go the way
we won’t. Go for a walk. Get a fresh air, clear your mind. It’s fine to stuck.
We all have done that. Try to do something else instead and come back to it
later. Download Zen music if you have crazy flatmates, it helps!! Do Yoga!
12. Exercise and wellbeing. Student life involves
loads of drinking. You don’t need to skip all the parties of course. Make sure
you eat healthy. Believe me if your brain won’t get enough air and you dehydrated,
on crappy food it won’t get you anywhere. Try to stretch in the morning, open
window as often as you can and eat loads of fruits and vegetables. If your body
works on the right level you will feel more energised. If you have bad sleep
pattern, eat crappy food, you most likely to end up feeling tired and miserable
all the time. Not good pal!
13. Get into you tutor shoes. No, don’t wear them 😉
Try to understand why they doing certain things. Many fellow student were
moaning and slagging off tutors,- like ‘’stupid course, stupid project, what
this is all about’’. Immaturity much! Your tutor prepared the project
carefully, making sure, when you do your project you learn from different
areas. If you feel something is not working or you gaining a little, share your
feedback with them. They will appreciate that. Don’t be afraid to put forward
ideas and suggestions. They are paid to teach you something, not to make your
14. Last thing a little personal. Don’t ever let
anyone put you down. I nearly give up in my last year due to being bullied.
There were bunch of girls, who really didn’t like my passion and motivation.
Being geek is something you will be proud later on but in uni time, especially
on last year when people become a little more competitive it may cause some
problems. It had huge impact on me but I stood up and… ignore them. Don’t fight
them. Don’t go down to same level as they area. Remember; Great minds discuss
ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people!by Eleanor
Tutors don’t just reward you for your pretty eyes, or recent
good project. This is an overall hard work throughout all the year you spend in
your course. Gaining First class Degree, is not only, ‘Hell yeah I got first’
feeling and I can proudly show off screen shot of uni grades on Facebook, but
this will teach you many important skills for life. You will learn self-discipline,
you will learn how to organise your work vs personal life and family and have
time for your hobby. Most important, it will teach you the humbleness and how
to approach a life as a mature, decisive and confident person. Making the right decisions at the right time
is crucial. This will also help you in the future once, you step into the ‘’real’
career. Don’t treat grades like just university reward; make a goal to achieve them
as achieve them you gaining more than just a pretty numbers or words on paper. Best
My next post in these series will be ”How to find a job in interior design” full of tips how to aproach companies, how to prepare cv, to get a job or work experience.