When you start out as a designer, half of the job is getting the basics right. Ideas of contrast, balance and rhythm are instilled into all, and worries revolve around correct scheduling and specifying. As time goes by, many designers go into studios with specific rules and styles they prefer, often sacrificing their own tastes for the ones of their clients and peers.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with completing a task to the style and standard of your studio, your own flair should never be forgotten. Chances are, you might relocate at some point, or even fly solo when the time is right! When that time comes, having your own unique personal style will be essential.
Enter this article, and a journey of self discovery shall begin. Now, it might sound counterintuitive to make an article with a list of ways you can create your personal brand as an interior designer or interior design creator, and we get it. However, we’ve made sure these are thought exercises you can do to discover what you already hold inside of you, not a list dictating what you should be.
With all that being said, let’s get into it!
Q1: What differentiates you from other designers’ backgrounds?
Every single person on earth is unique. There are similarities, sure, but everyone has a different story that defines who they are. From what school you went to to your parents’ favourite reading spot at home, there is an amalgamation of images and unique references you can draw from that no one else can.
To build out your own personalised imagination, think about the history of your ancestors, the legends of your home town, the tales from the houses you've lived in, the shows you enjoyed as a kid, the celebrities you cherished and the artwork you gravitated towards. These small details about your life will help you figure out what makes your taste special.
Once you have those ideas mapped out mentally, make sure to put them down somewhere visually, with references of what you mean. At the end of the day, what you mean with each memory or detail about yourself is incredibly subjective and personal, so be extra clear with yourself. You’ll thank me later.
You can map out your tastes and history in many different ways. Traditionally, this could be done in a mood board or a scrapbook. If you’re more on the tech-savvy side, you can use pages like Landing, Notion, Pinterest or Canva to create your own personal style board.
Q2: What designers do you admire?
“Good artists copy, great artists steal”. Whether it was first pronounced by Warhol or Picasso is irrelevant – the message stands. Getting inspired by elements from other artists is part of the game, so don’t get coy about borrowing some of their ideas.
To start, you have to investigate which designers you love. We have a whole journal section dedicated to designers on our website. If that section isn’t cutting it for you right now, you can always investigate on social media; specifically, Instagram and Pinterest are great places to find designer inspiration.
Once you’ve chosen the designers you enjoy, look at their pictures, floor plans, sketches and interviews to figure out exactly what it is that draws you in. Do you like their furniture choices? Their colour palettes? Their photography? Their social media voice? Anything counts, but make sure you’re isolating what it is you love, rather than falling for the whole thing. Replicating someone’s persona is not what we’re doing here: we’re learning what we love in interior design and applying it to our own design practice.
Again, once you’ve thought about what you love about at least 3-5 designers, jot it down in your “personal style” book or online platform.
Q3: What details make a design feel “yours”?
Even when a designer works for a larger studio, there are certain touches that make a designer’s presence evident. Certain interior designers have a predilection for a certain material or a certain shape in the living room. Others centre art in their design process, like Lena Cottray from Lawson Robb. Whatever it is that you repeat consistently in your designs, is your signature.
If your signature is something that happened by accident and you don’t actually consider it a benefit but more of a crutch, then this is the perfect time to change it. Visualise what you’d like your signature to be, and start incorporating it into your designs.
Once you’ve thought about this enough, you know what to do: write it down!
Q4: Which of your personality traits have been most beneficial to your career?
Style is crafted from your likes and dislikes, yes, but it also emanates from your personality. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, but it is that specific combination of traits that makes us truly special. Some designers might be known for their attention to detail, their business acumen and their magical adherence to deadlines. Another might be creative in their solutions, a networking ninja and a fan of eccentric colour combinations. Whoever you are, you definitely have an angle.
To figure out your positive personality traits, you can think about them yourself, ask your friends and family or take some online quizzes. Reflect on their answers and how you react to them. Once you have around five traits you feel comfortable with, you’ve got yourself a brand personality!
These five words will help you define your value and your unique angle on the world. While they might not define your interior design style per se, they do speak to your unique process and what you bring to the table with every project.
From then, you can start tailoring your overall presence and interactions through the lens of your personal brand.
And there you have it, a four step process to develop your personal style – and get to celebrate yourself along the way.
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