Why I gave up Architecture for Interior Design
This post has been cooking up in my head & in my heart for quite some time now, probably helped by the numerous reactions that I get when I state my full professional background: first Architect, then Interior Decorator (interior designer in the making) and recently Blogger (as you might have figured it out). I am often asked: "well if you are an architect, then why are you an interior designer or even blogger"? Like it would be something seriously wrong with you to change your mind about being an architect and instead turn to interiors (something that it's not even that far away in the professional field). I mean Architecture - Interior Design....kind of deal with the same things. So I want to get really honest here and share the whole story with you guys; to clear the air about this "are you an architect or interior designer thing" and because in the end, it all comes down to following a dream.
Looking back on this, I realise there were a few key moments in my life that lead me down this path. As I mentioned to you guys when I shared the 10 golden facts that I learned in Architecture School (click here to read), when I was 5 years old I loved to draw interiors. Usually it was the same thing, a mixture of a Living Room and a Bedroom. There was the usual wardrobe, a chair, a table and a vase (with flowers), sometimes a window with curtains, but always a bed with a rug. Needles to say that everything was in 2D - duh...little kid drawing.
First key moment - one day, my dad showed me something that changed my whole view on things. He drew a couple of extra lines to my "amazing" 2D bed and I instantly saw it in 3D. It was like a whole new world opened up - so many possibilities!! Of course, I failed to reproduce that drawing of a 3d bed - I was only 5. But that moment stuck with me for the following years.
Second key moment - years later, I was talking with my parents trying to decide what I would like to do when I grow up (as a profession). At that time all I wanted to do was draw, so I thought why not prepare to go to an art high school and learn how to paint properly (not the doodles I was doing at the time). My mom then told me that there was another option to consider - Architecture School. Not being fully convinced I wanted to pursue art, I asked my mom what was she talking about (because I had no clue as to what Architecture is in general). When she told me that you get to study houses and learn how you can build them, I was instantly hooked. So much so that from that afternoon on, I decided that I was going to be an ARCHITECT.
Third key moment - one day my mom took me to an exhibition/fair for different high schools. Even though I had like an extra couple of years to wait until starting that stage of my life, my mom took me there to see the Architecture High School. I remember seeing there lots of drawings, plans, layouts and architectural models. But what I remember very clearly to this day, was this one model of a wooden holiday house on a sloping land with a river running beneath it. I fell in love instantly. I knew right then that there was no way I was going to miss out on this!!
So obviously I went to Architecture high school, followed by Architecture Uni - which was a whole different world. Many people I met leading up to the graduation point and getting my Architect title, used to tell me: "oh, but Architecture is not that hard. What do you do all day - doodle some plans? Build some models?". Of course, I learned how to ignore these people, because I knew that Architecture is one of the harderst school you could do for a career, right up there in top 3, with Medical and Engineering school! I've been through it, so I know.
All I can say now, looking back on it, is that it was a huge ammount of work!!! If you wanted to graduate and learn something in the process - you had to work your ass off for it. No excuses! Which is also a pretty good rule to follow in life, if you think about it. You want something, you have to work for it. The sooner you learn this, the better.
I loved Architecture Uni, even though it felt like a constant struggle. Not struggle as in what I was learning, but the continuous feeling that people wanted to see you fail. I know my fellow colleagues would back me up on this. I felt like the whole purpose of the school was to either make you or break you. And there were some that eventually gave up in their final years of studies. Maybe that was the whole purpose - to make you Iron Born :). But enought on that subject.
What I learned there was amazing. I decided earlier on that I would learn everything that I can there. If people would not help me learn, I would do it on my own. After all, there are famous architects who never went to school - take Tadao Ando, for example. If he could do it, so could I!
So, this was my mission: learn every secret, peek inside the minds of the teachers that were willing to share their knowledge, practice, practice, practice. Work until it's perfect, or until your proud. I must admit that the proud stuff only happened when I did my diploma, because I had time to actually do the project properly. Usually you had about 2-3 weeks (maybe 4 in some cases) per project. And of course, you had around 2-3 projects at a time + classes - on a good day!
But my favourite thing in Uni was solving problems - meaning layouts and floor plans. I used to spend hours after school thinking & trying to find the best solution, or if my teacher provided me with one, to try and find another that worked even better.
This particular skill helped me a lot when I first started to work as a junior architect in an Architecture Studio. I was able to identify problems in layouts - specially when correlating them with other specialities. Because I was honest (and wanted to help out), I started pointing the errors out. The result? Let's just say that I learned to keep my mouth shut pretty fast after that.
During and even after finishing Architecture Uni, I discovered the so called "Architect EGO". You know this myth that it's always present around architects. Not only it's a pretty big thing, it's also almost always present. I used to see it in my teachers too. But there were a couple of them (teachers and architects), who were really humble. I used to seek them out and do the same thing I did in Uni: try to follow their teachings, peek into their brain, learn everything that I can from them.
Because how do you know if someone is worth your time (and if you can learn anything from them)? You see if they show off, push their work and their way of thinking onto you or not! If they don't, that's a person / influencer (like it's called these days) worth sticking with. That's my opinion anyway.
2 years after finishing my studies, the economic crisis that hit the building world pretty hard, had cought up with everyone. There were few people left that were still building things. This meant no new projects - no studio income - no salaries to be paid. I remember that, although things were starting to look grim, I always managed to "find my happiness" back. How? I used to spend hours after work, relaxing and looking at interiors or styling props on the wonderful world of Pinterest.
And then a thought occour.
I always loved Architecture and Interiors (drawing them up since I was a kid), but never really acted on Interior Design. No matter how bad something got, looking at interiors would always calm me down or make me happy. Not so much with Architecture, which was weird giving the fact that I loved it and majored in it. Something was off. I felt like a change started inside my heart. I wasn't so sure anymore that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wasn't very happy with what Architecture was providing as "comfort food" for my soul. But Interior Design has always been there, in the background, waiting. I just forgot about it while growing up.
One day on my way back from work, I was on the bus looking out the window. I can recall the moment beacuse the Sun was peeking through the busy streets and it nearly blinded me a bit. I remember feeling very lost and not knowing where to go or what to do with my life. There was this economic crisis on one hand, and on the other, I felt like Architecture wasn't really for me anymore. But then it hit me. I remembered that bed and rug that I always used to draw! I remembered I was absolutely in love with interiors and always wanted to pursue it, but somehow it got left behind.
I decided then & there that I was going to do interior design from that point on. Start again and learn everything from scratch. After all, this is what I loved: always looking at interiors on Pinterest, always making small interior sketches, always buying interior magazines...it was perfect! How did I not see this before??
And to see how things fall into place for you once you discover your dream - a couple of days after I made this decision, I saw a post on my Facebook feed. A friend of mine was sharing a link towards a short 3 months course in interior decoration. So I started to save a bit of money on the side (every month), so that I can do this course. And I DID! Learned a lot from it too, but the best past was the practical part. I got to see, touch and feel fabrics. I loved being surrounded by colours, patterns and textures. I got to think and discover a whole different world. My heart was full of joy again. I realised that while Architecture was very hard, this felt even harder to do. So I welcomed the challenge!! Plus, the level of creativity?? Ufff - to the roof!!
Soon after (well - months after), I decided to just go for it. I was so lucky to have the full support of my husband, my familly and a few selected friends. I ignored all those "you can't do it", "why risk it", "you don't know what you are doing", "you'll fail". Thinking about them now, I realise that they actually helped me to be more decisive about the next step of my life, and of course, do it!
In 6 months - I've quit my job as a junior architect, moved to London, did another interior decoration course and managed to land a job in a famous design studio! Don't get me wrong, I've worked my ass off for this - AGAIN. But I was willing to do that. There are no shortcuts to these things. You have to go through them and be prepared to work for it. I was ready to start from the bottom, work my way up while learning all that I can, plus in my case, a lot of stress and sleepless nights (it felt like Architecture Uni again). It took courage and maybe a bit of madness to risk everything, but in the end it paid off. I discovered that if you don't risk it, nothing will happen. And in the end, all you'll be left with will be that "what if"?
I learned a lot since I made up my mind and made this move. I learned a lot about myself in the process. I don't regret for one second making this choice. Even though Architecture was my original path, I love being surrounded by mood boards, fabrics, going on installations and styling flats way too much! It makes my heart sing and I hope this feeling never goes away! I'll never be sorry for majoring in Architecture, because it was such an awesome part & time of my life, and I learned a lot that can help me. But I realise now that everything comes in your life at the right moment and that I am on my merry little way, following my dream! What could be better than that?
That's why I've started this blog as well. I wanted to share my experience & my knowledge with you guys, because who knows - it might be that someone out there feels just like I felt - lost and looking for a "sign". And just as that Facebook share changed the course of my life, so maybe this blog post can help change someone else's life.
So here is my advice to you: never linger, breath in and take that first step. Risk it and just start somewhere. After all, it's your dream and only you deserve it!!
So if you know someone who is feeling a little bit lost, share this post with them. Who knows, it might help them take the next or first step towards their dream. It's that what we all want in the end ???
All images that are credited as '©Detail Movement', are done by Raluca Vaduva for Detail Movement. All rights reserved. All pictures that are not my own, I credit them to the best of my knowledge & research, to their online sources. I do not claim ownership over them in any way.