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  • Writer's pictureDiane Bobek

What I Have Learned About Interior Design Over the Past 20 Years

With each project, I learn more about myself as a designer and what it means to create an intentional space for my clients. Though my overall design process remains consistent, it can result in completely different looks. I have adored my career for the last two decades, though it was by chance that I even became a designer. I originally interviewed at a design firm as a librarian and fell in love. A seemingly simple decision to take a job interview resulted in a pivotal moment that changed the course of my entire life. Now, I want to share the lessons I’ve learned throughout my years working in the industry.

Surpassing Client Expectations

As my clientele grows, I get to see all of the different ways people want their homes to look and feel. Each vision can be so distinct, so learning how to surpass every client’s expectations is ongoing. The best way I know to give people what they want, and perhaps what they don’t even realize they want, is by simply listening to them. I also love to add some of my own concepts into designs to offer a collaborative surprise.

Applying Skills from Years of Previous Work

I used to work in retail and merchandising in well-established stores in Hawaii, which helped me to build a solid design foundation. I learned to color coordinate, organize, visualize placements, and tie pieces together without them feeling too uniform. It helped me to understand that interior design is very much like fashion design in that you generally want textures and colors to mesh but not always match.

Being a successful interior designer requires more than just a keen eye for decor, color, lighting, and material. It also requires you to be an effective communicator and collaborator. During the 5 years at my design sourcing firm, I learned how to work successfully with contractors and vendors. My leadership skills have grown so much over the years, allowing me to communicate clearly with others who are part of my decision-making processes. I love the long-lasting friendships I have made with my clients, colleagues, vendors, and partners. Absorbing as much information as possible, I’ve been able to learn how to read design plans, create layouts, and perfectly stage my visions.

Using Design Courses

I have taken advantage of design courses to better understand the logistics of running a business. I love getting to step through the design process with my clients and make their visions come to life, but there are certainly business management skills that I’ve had to grasp along the way. A huge lesson I’ve learned, from both personal experience and design classes, is to make time for yourself outside of work. I am inspired everywhere I go and am constantly designing in my head, but it’s important to turn that off (as much as a creative can) and live life.

When you start any business or want to grow your business, courses are a great way to ask other industry experts about their experiences and see things from different perspectives. Whether I look for specific guidance on work-life balance or how to successfully run a company, these classes continue to teach and motivate me.

Traveling for Inspiration

Traveling always takes me to another realm. My recent favorite destinations are Bali and Vienna – both so beautiful in their own ways. I love that wherever I go, my eyes are constantly moving because I don't know where to look first! Visiting my showrooms in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco always refreshes me and I enjoy seeing all the new furniture, textures, and textiles that others have created.

I don’t always have to travel to find inspiration though. Reading through design magazines is encouraging and makes me feel like I am traveling. I love visiting hotels, restaurants, home stores, and unique fashion boutiques to simply look at displays and spark creativity.

As a designer, I get to create so many different visions and have a love for each one of them. My career allows me to express myself and live through the dreams of my clients. If I didn’t design, I have no idea where all my inspiration and creative thoughts would go! If a client wants to design their home with unique wooden furniture mixed with colorful elements, like my Holualoa design, I get to live that vision out with them.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my journey is to have passion in everything you do and that there is never an end to learning. I vow to continue discovering every day and use my findings to create soulful spaces.

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