10 Designers, 15 Tips: Career Advice for Emerging Architects and Interior Designers

Posted by Julie McClure on 5/22/14 10:36 AM  |  5 min read time

To continue our series of articles offering career advice to recent graduates and emerging professionals, here's what 10 Vectorworks software users in the field of architecture and interior design have to say. We also sprinkled in some inspirational images from additional users. Enjoy!

Peter Exley, FAIA, Director of Architecture, Architecture Is Fun, & Adjunct Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL:

  • Your first job is very important. It’s formative, and you will learn habits that will last a lifetime. Set the bar of expectation high, and find an opportunity that reflects your values and ambitions. You will trace all of your future professional successes back to the experiences of this first post-graduate job.
  • Find a mentor and meet with them regularly. Join your national professional organization (AIA, RIBA, etc.) and participate in the local component’s events immediately. Everyone will be glad to meet you — peers and more established professionals. Designing your network will greatly impact your future career.

Courtesy of Marcelo Maia

Eric A. Gartner, AIA, LEED AP +, Partner, SPG Architects, New York, NY:

  • Be modest and be a team player. This transition into the profession means more collaborating than ever — with clients, with your colleagues, with consultants. Merge your goals with the people around you.
  • Keep on learning. Education continues from this day forward. The day you stop learning is the day your career stops moving forward.

Nate Kipnis, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal, Kipnis Architecture + Planning, Evanston, IL:

  • Understand client and coworker psychology. I deal with higher-end homes, and clients can be very anxious, especially if they don’t understand a design or parts of it, or if they cannot clearly communicate their thoughts, which can be frustrating. Walk them through the floor plan, entering at the entrance and moving through how you would use the space. A little empathy goes a long way.
  • You are not a designer in today’s world if you aren't consciously designing with sustainability in mind. Do more with what might seem like technical issues and highlight them in the design.

Courtesy of Dmitry Boykov - db-arch studio

Karen Lewis, Interior Designer, The M Group Architects & Interior Architects, Reston, VA:

  • Learn patience. The tools you have at your fingertips are so powerful and can take a drawing from 2D to 3D in an instant. That’s great, but design is also a process. The first thing you come up with isn’t necessarily the end result. Sometimes you come back around to the beginning point, but it is a process and a journey.

Neil Marshall, Director, The Design Büro (Coventry) Ltd, Warwickshire, United Kingdom:

  • Your career is a learning journey, and it never stops. Soak up the knowledge of your peers at every available opportunity.
  • Keep a record of your achievements and photographs of completed work. You never know when you will need them either for yourself or your employer.

Bram Oosterhuis, Interior Designer, Bram Oosterhuis' Studio, Amsterdam, The Netherlands:

  • Get your hands dirty. Go to construction sites, and get to know the workers. Learn their language and their way of handling things. Mutual understanding helps to get things done.

Courtesy of GDP Architects Sdn Bhd

Darryl Sang, Architect, Sang Architects & Company Limited/Darryl Sang Architects Unlimited, Ellerslie, Auckland, New Zealand:

  • Spread your artistic wings, whether designing buildings, interior or exterior spaces, doing photography, painting, drawing, performing music, or singing. Experiencing and practicing the arts feeds your creative juices, and you will be a far better designer as a result.
  • Be outrageous. Brilliant design comes from ideas that resolve something in an extraordinary way. Start your thinking with an out-of-the-box design because somewhere in there is a wonderful solution you would not have thought of if you were "practical" too early in the process. There's plenty of time to be practical later.

Mike Timcheck, Architect, The M Group Architects & Interior Architects, Reston, VA:

  • You need a firm background in 3D modeling. It’ll be expected and something you will be tasked with frequently. Equally important is the ability to communicate. Early on, you will find yourself in a meeting where you need to convey your ideas. Learning to express those design thoughts clearly is critical.

Jessica Wijsenbeek, Designer, oil for live communication, Amsterdam, The Netherlands:

  • Start networking now, even if you're still in school and even when you're busy making ends meet. Goodwill and connections are crucial for getting ahead in life.

Frans Willigers, Furniture Designer & Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, The Netherlands:

  • Dealing with clients requires a new mindset: they have their wishes and demands. Do not think of it as a limit to your inspiration. Think of it as a positive challenge, making your design even better.

Check out our Architecture Success Stories to read about projects some of these designers have completed with Vectorworks software.

Topics: Academic, BIM (Architecture)

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