All Work (Experience) & No Pay

Has anyone read this months issue of IDFX? The article entitled ‘All Work and No pay’ inspired me to write about my thoughts on internships in the interior design industry and whether they are a great way to get into the industry or a crafty way to get inspired, enthusiastic talented designistas (my new name for interior designers) to work for free.
Student work from the KLC Graduate Show
According to the article written by Kay Hill, 20% of last years summer graduates were still unemployed the following January. It’s true we are going through/just came out of a recession and although it has always been important that up and coming designistas have the experience to bag their first job, it is more evident that this is vital. However are design firms exploiting another persons passion and determination to break into the industry in return for tea making, photocopying and filing?

I had the pleasure of working as an intern for many interior design firms and have been lucky in meeting some great people along the way. However I have heard some horror stories. One of my friends Julie was thrilled to get a two month internship with a small interiors firm however every Monday her daily job was to clean up the ‘trashed’ studio room. Making tea was the next task along with running minor unrelated errands and the occasional sourcing of materials. 

Creation by the Lee Broom Studio

Another friend of mine Marie wanted to give one interior design company plenty of time to organise a great internship. Instead, when she arrived they had nothing for her to do apart from flick through magazines and scan images.

Work from the KLC Graduate Show
Although I think that there are many firms which do exploit the passionate there are a few ‘pots of gold’ as I like to call them, who do invest in interns. Take Kelly Hoppen MBE for example. Kelly has a well structured internship programme which has been devised to give the intern the quality experience they need and deserve.

At the time of being published sadly the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) does not have any form of internship framework or guidance in place for design firms or passionate interns. As an institute in my opinion, I feel they have an obligation to the design intern in particular their student members to enforce such a framework especially as so many do become exploited (for free no less). 

Who knows, maybe one day the institute might look into it.


Watch this space…

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