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How to Be the Best Interior Designer or Professional of Any Kind

05/14/2015 04:25 pm ET | Updated May 13, 2016

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Be the Best by Learning, Always Learning...

Pablo Picasso reminds us to continually sharpen the saw and never stop learning. In the design world there is nothing worse than an interior designer or decorator who purports to be an "expert" - charging hefty fees, only to deliver the same design concept that they have used repeatedly for previous clients. They are not-so-lovingly referred to as "decorinas" by their more professional and progressive counterparts. What separates decorinas from outstanding professionals? The solid foundation of design principles AND the discipline to continually learn and update. Both are necessary.

To graduate from school is simply not enough to qualify greatness or expertise. In fact, some of the most useful knowledge can be received from design internships during design school. If you are in design school, get as much work experience as you can during those years. Try commercial, try residential- internships are easier to get than jobs. Jobs will be easier to get if you had internships. Working during school adds a learning layer that makes all the difference for your school projects and your future. One of the designers I worked for gave me an entirely separate design education that I will always be grateful for, exposing me to elements of design that do not exist in textbooks or classrooms. There is so much to learn... always. Don't ever get too comfortable with what you know in this fast paced world.

Did you go to Design School? Congratulations, now keep learning...

"If you view graduation as a commencement, a beginning, it can be a foundation for future value creation and service. That is the exact opposite perspective from those who mistakenly imagine that their credentials constitute an entitlement..."

"It is no accident that leaders in various fields are voracious learners whose imaginations are defiantly unbounded by the often artificial strictures and structures of formal education or academic disciplines." -James Strock, Serve To Lead

How To Be the Best- From Your Client's Perspective:

A good start point is to learn as much as possible about your client. Ask, then LISTEN. Always be respectful of the obvious fact that the client is the one who will have to live in the completed space, not yourself. The design should be 150% about them, not simply what you do well or have done before. Do not be so comfortable with your past work that you lose focus on the present job at hand. Listen listen listen, and focus on the client's unique needs and desires for the space you are designing. Then do the research and resourcing to exceed their expectations.

Meanwhile, whatever interests you in the design world, explore it, learn about it, allow it to be the inspiration for an even greater design concept. Flesh out the details now, because you never know how or when it will fit into a design scheme.

"Education is the kindling of the flame, not the filling of the vessel." - Socrates

There is so much to learn from those who came before us and those who work beside us. Why reinvent the wheel, just to replicate their learning curves? Sir Ken Robinson asserts that individual creativity is almost always stimulated by the work, ideas and achievements of other people: "As Isaac Newton famously said, if he saw further than others, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants." Study the greats.

"Study the past if you would define the future." -Confucius

Ask questions. Don't just accept information, dig deeper if you don't truly understand. Some of the greatest minds in history were the more curious types, like Da Vinci and Einstein.

"It's not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer." -Albert Einstein

Those who truly impress me have an extensive knowledge base to draw upon as they sort through modern design challenges for innovative solutions... they are the more interesting people to watch, not to mention some of the funnier people to converse with.

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"The ability to learn is the foundation of every other talent-" - Jessica Hagy

Do not ever get smug or self-satisfied because of your achievements. There are always people who have achieved more, and there is always room for growth and learning.

"Study hard what interests you in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible." - Richard P. Feynman

In today's world, computers link us to infinite knowledge. This means that our clients are more educated than ever, and they have access to many of the same resources that we do. Therefore, we must deliver on a higher plane than ever before. They no longer need a middle man in order to access furniture or know what the trends are - technology has changed many aspects of the profession. Reality TV has tricked consumers into thinking they are design experts. Having said all of this, the great designers will always be successful. The lazy ones will fall by the wayside. People will gladly pay for quality and talent.

Let's look at it this way- if you had to choose a surgeon to operate on you, would you opt for the one who was a complete geek for the specialty that you required or one who had simply attended medical school? I rest my case...

Are we using all of the resources available to us to best hone our skills? Are we evolving? Are we bringing enough to the table? The learning curve never stops.

This article first appeared on CourtneyPrice.com Follow me there to read more articles like this.