The process of becoming an interior architect or architect has generally not been well-documented. We assume someone typically goes to school for X amount of years, gets their license, and works OR bypasses all of that with talent and a good break. Luckily we now live in 2023 and there are so many resources of folks sharing the memory of the things they learned or wished they had learned sooner but what better way to learn what to work on now from someone sitting in the classroom during the present day? Going through the process of becoming an architect myself and sitting in the studios, firms, and being apart of jury day aka presentations of our buildings, heading into the BA program these are the skills I learned over the past two years that I wish someone would have told me to work on from day 1.
Fail and Fail Often
Look, I know this sounds crazy, especially if you're a current perfectionist or ex-perfectionist such as myself. It is not about IF the design will fail but WHEN. This is something to learn fast and keep as a reminder. Whatever is designed at the beginning, rarely makes it to the end in the exact same way. There will be something that doesn't fit, a change of mind, sudden inspiration, or a system crash. Once we're able to accept the high possibility of change, we're already ahead of the game. Pivot and pivot quickly. After all, being a designer or an architect is all about problem solving.
"Wow! I love this design and concept. I would add just one more thing..."
Fight for the Design, Especially if it Can Be Structurally Backed Up
I cannot tell you how many times someone has thankfully pushed me on designs. I can also tell you that just because someone pushes, it doesn't mean we have to listen to every single idea. We can listen with an open mind as well as a grain of salt. This is a design by us after all and if every single suggestion is made, it becomes a design by someone else. If our belief lies in the design created, we must stand by it and make sure it is structurally sound (the building and the argument).
When Presenting, Use the Entirety of the Floor
Most of us on jury day or in the real world are nervous when we have to go up in front of a crowd and speak elegantly about something we've created. This is our baby after all. How do we break the nervousness and buy a few minutes to catch our breath/nerves? Make the presentation interactive! Pass around a material sample, have people get up and interact with the model, or get a closer look at some detail. Furthermore, walk around and use the entire presentation floor without turning your back to the crowd. Movement allows for connection to whomever is presenting. Also, use note cards. No one cares if we do and it'll help us remember key points when the brain decides to take a mini break.
"Funny, even what you're wearing matches the colors in the presentation"
It's easy to look at the classroom as something not as serious but presenting ourselves in a way that is put together will go much further than the classroom in the long run. Trust me, people will notice and on presentation day, it will simply feel like just another day. Every detail matters. From the content we choose to include in the presentations, to how many words are shown, the spacing of images/text, the hierarchy between texts, even to how we are dressed. Take it all seriously.
Be a Compelling Storyteller
Probably my favorite lesson on this short list, be a compelling storyteller! Telling a story is a skill and it takes practice. During jury day and even out in the professional realm, there are always a few presentations that will read off of every single slide. Please avoid it. Turn your design into a story and sell it. Start with a why, follow it up with a how, and end with a what. At the end of the day, people are going to buy the person who designed the building or space more often than they will buy the great design without a story. Build connection with the audience through storytelling.
That's it for now! Those are the top five things I wish I knew before getting started in architecture and interiors. I'm glad I am able to share these things and hopefully they'll help someone in the future. Excited to share even more as I head into the BA program in the Fall. Join me on my journey @thesoulfuldesigner on Instagram. With love, see y'all next time!
Are you an interior design or architecture student? Are you a design professional? Have something to add? Let's connect!