No longer do people want to live in ordinary houses. Today, everybody wants a functional dwelling place which also looks good. At the same time, space comes at a premium and it must be designed well so that maximum functions can be done from constricted quarters. These trends have given a boost to architects and trained interior designers. In this feature, we discuss architecture as a career option and explore the prospects for architects and interior designers.
A direct consequence of the affluence that has resulted in the past few years is that people want better looking homes, and within rooms, maximum convenience and ease. If earlier, people were content to use a design to satisfy the needs of urban planning laws, now they want well-designed functional units. Space has, in any case, become constricted at least in the cities, so that everyone wants more from what is available. The need for designing has also become great because telephones, computer and television have become common, and there must be proper space for these. No longer are houses made by just putting a few rooms together. Aspects like natural heat and light must also be considered.
A trained architect can achieve these things for any space. Spaces are transformed by applying just a little thought. The services of architects are, therefore, much in demand, and are expected to improve further in the near future. Some people want homes made on the lines of traditional science, like the Vaastu Shastra, which is considered beneficial for those living in such houses. A person trained in these things will find much work. However, architecture is not about designing buildings only; an architect must know the intricacies of construction management, the knowledge of various materials available and the latest practices in the trade.
A related profession is that of interior design. This is a less rigorous task, since it involves doing the interiors as per the needs of the client. Many people have got into interior designing without any formal degree, provided they had a knack for doing up the rooms. Usually, architects take up the job of interior design as well, though there are people who exclusively do interior design.
Where to study
At the outset, it may be said that both architecture and interior design requires a creative talent. You must be good in drawing and have an artistic bent of mind. If you have been making sketches as a hobby, show these to someone who is professionally qualified, so as to assess your suitability in the field. It may also be remembered that architectural design is not like normal painting or drawing and many technical aspects must be kept in mind. So, merely an artistic bent of mind may not be sufficient for becoming an architect. Also required is a knack for technical drawing.
To study architecture, you have to appear in the entrance examinations of various institutes. Many of these are conducted jointly with the pre-engineering test. The basic qualification is class 12. Usually, one is tested for creative skills and mathematics, since architecture involves mathematical drawings and models. The course leads to the B. Arch, degree, which can be obtained from any of the following institutes:
School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad.
Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Mumbai.
School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
Chandigarh College of Architecture.
Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal.
Ansals and Habitat School, New Delhi.
Regional engineering colleges all over India.
Interior design courses are offered by private institutes and polytechnics.
Prepare for hard work during the degree, as you will be taught not only the elements of design, but things to keep in mind while designing different buildings like hospitals, schools and homes. Thus, one must be aware of building techniques and materials, urban planning basics and so on.
The jobs available are with firms of architects, or with urban planning agencies. Town planners are in great demand as cities expand and services must be provided for increasing population. After a few years of getting to know the ropes, one can start a consultancy of one’s own, depending on one’s inclination. Alternately, one can go for higher studies. The Master of Architecture is available at many universities abroad. The National University of Singapore offers several programmes for architects. These are: a) Master of Architecture, b) Master of ArtsUrban Design, c) Master of Science (Building Science), d) Master of Science (Project Management) and e) Master of Science (Real Estate). The courses cover various aspects like Contemporary Design, Building Technology, Urban Design, Architectural Practice and so on. Doing a course abroad has the advantage that one learns of the latest techniques and practices.
A related field is interior design. This is also becoming an important subject, since offices and homes must be both aesthetic and functional. Awareness is increasing about the importance of interior design. The entry of multinationals has made all the difference, since they pay a lot of attention to how the office looks. Indian firms are also following suit as they have realised that a good office results in better public relations. The scope of the interior designer has multiplied in recent times, more so in cities, but equally in small towns as well.
Usually, architects do the work of interiors, but it leaves much scope for free-lance interior decorators. This is so because small jobs such as doing an office or a house would not be given to an architect. An aesthetic sense, colour combinations, a knowledge of art materials available from different States these are the requirements of an interior designer. A person having a degree in home science or a diploma in interior design can look forward to a career in interior design. However, do not expect a full-time job in the beginning. A talent for such things is an essential pre-requisite for interior design. However, it is not merely art that is required; also needed is a sense of utilising available space for maximum benefit.
One can do a course in interior design from a institute. Those with formal qualifications, such as from a premier institute like the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, are rated higher. Ultimately, however, it is talent that matters. A course is also offered by Jenson & Nicholson Division Interior-Exteriors in various cities. However, the quality of the course varies from city to city, so one must be careful while joining. The institute was closed down in Chandigarh, leaving many students in the lurch.
Things to be careful about
A career in architecture and interior design is ideal for the artistic-minded, but there are some things to be careful about. First, it must be remembered that though people do want a good design, quite often they are unwilling to pay for the services rendered. The fee charged is a percentage of the total value of the work, and clients often feel that building cost should not be included. Moreover, clients may feel that the designer is sourcing at higher rates just for increase in his commission and friction may result. This is indeed a grey area in this field. Since payments are made after completion of the work, there is little that a designer can do once the job is over. A fixed fee may be a better option, but clients may still feel that it is too high, considering the fact that it is only a “design”. In fact, the job may entail travelling to various places in order to source the materials, which is never considered by the client. The ideal way is to get associated with a firm of builders or architects, at least initially. Architects also have to be clear whether they would have to supervise the construction work or not. Sometimes, they become important links between the client, contractor and the urban planning agency. The scope of work must be clearly spelled out before work is begun.
Secondly, designers and artists usually lack business sense. The work may involve more than what one bargained for. One must learn some ways of estimating hours and expenses, just as management consultants do.
If one keeps the above in mind, interior design could be a good career option. It is ideally suited for ladies who wish to work on a part-time basis. If one has a good training, one can continue with this career even after marriage. This could be a way of being independent without the long hours that a regular job requires.
Finally, it may be said that a career in architecture and interior design can turn out to be a very satisfying one. These days there is a requirement for low cost homes and buildings and an innovative architect can make a great name. Alternately, one can go abroad as architects are paid very well in USA and Europe. The avenues are many, but the bottom line is to be good in the field. One must be aware of the latest trends and be able to suggest a design that the client has not thought of. This is where the architectural profession becomes a highly intellectual one.