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Shanna Bender

Working to uphold the sanctity and necessity of education in design

March 28, 2018


Design Studio 15, Winter Park, Fla.

2017 Revenue: $1.3 million

Industry Challenge: Many millennials are starting their own design businesses without the full spectrum of education. It makes me uncomfortable that they would be going into places and making structural changes and recommendations that aren’t educated decisions. It’s a major liability, so we have to be very selective and weed out the ones who don’t have the right background.

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What does Shanna consider to be "the full spectrum of education"?

kschuler's picture

Thank you for that fantastic question. I’m more than happy to elaborate on both question and intention of that statement in context. 

I’d first like to, of course, clarify this is not all millennials, nor should it be generalized. 

“A full spectrum of education” means I'm seeing a lot of young designers that are bypassing that educational process and moving into the field, submitting resumes, and taking on projects. Full spectrum can be multifaceted, depending on which direction of design field they wish to go in, and to me includes a combination of education and experience. 

As a past student, design teacher, mentor, designer, and company owner for 17 years, I have seen our industry change so much. I’m impressed and excited with young up-and-coming designers, and I'm greatly enjoying mentoring a fresh generation of entrepreneurs. It's exciting to see so much passion about design.  

Decorating or staging can be a two-year degree to learn fundamentals of textiles, space planning, ergonomics of the home, and how people function and move through spaces.

The term "designer" is recognized by interior design associations in America as having a degree in interior design. My design firm looks to hire designers with degree in design, in addition to some experience in the field. Education for designers is more extensive and includes more technical learning such as CAD, Revit, elevations, 3-D drawings, residential building codes, lighting plans, ceiling designs, millwork drawings, plumbing scheduling, textiles, project management, and technical drawings. This education enables the designers to communicate designs professionally with architects and builders, all in the spirit of protecting clients and firms.

To technically become a designer through industry standards is six years combined of school and field experience. At this point, designers can apply to sit for a three-day National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam that represents testing in all fields of design. The test is challenging and qualifies designers to legally produce commercial or public work. 

All of this is a way the industry creates and enforces standards to elevate expectations through trades, protect designers from making costly mistakes, and ensure responsible designing.  I want design to be more than a trend and for young designers to be able to articulate their vision to clients and project partners to make designs flawless. 

To me, although schooling is a longer, and often more difficult, road, if you love what you're doing, you want to educate and submerse yourself in your passion. 

Thanks for asking a great question, and best of luck and success to you!

Shanna Bender

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