Industry Showcase: Interior Design - Oreily Design

By Rosaleen Ward | Posted: Tuesday August 22, 2017

What does it take to become an interior designer? We spoke to Donna Gibbons of Oreily Design about her journey.

In Donna’s experience, there is much more to the career of an Interior Designer than purely interior design work. The work of the team at Oreily Design encompasses all aspects of the build, starting right at the very beginning of the renovation, and the client’s ‘dream’ of how they want to live.

“The industry has this real sort of glamorous appeal to it, but the reality isn’t like that. Yes, it can be fun and exciting, but it isn’t about what we want, it’s about what our clients want. It's learning how to interpret what you know, what you feel, and what you love to be something that fulfils what your client wants and is looking for.”

Donna comes from a family of creative women, starting her career in fashion in the North Island. She began interior design when she moved to Dunedin. To youth interested in pursuing a career in interior design, Donna suggests some of the most practical learning opportunities come from getting out there and giving it a go yourself. Her examples include having a go at creating cushion covers, or even repurposing furniture. This is a great way to work through the design process - planning, perfecting and fine-tuning your product. Marketing your final product is also important. Putting your ideas in a space that they can be critiqued will help you learn, and develop your design process.

Because interior design involves working so closely with clients and building relationships, having people skills is extremely important when working in this industry. Clients want to be listened to and will build trust with you if you can relate to them in some way.

“Every home is uniquely different because every life is uniquely different.”

On the topic of youth employment, Donna is a strong advocate for getting more youth into creative industries. 

“It’s about having a heart for the youth to make sure we’ve got people coming through that understand the industry and what it’s about. Experience and knowledge are something that we can share so that skills are passed on. If we don’t have people thinking about design and creative things, where is our future?”

As a YES Youth-friendly employer, Donna has a number of opportunities on offer for Dunedin Youth aged between 16 and 24 at Oreily Design, including a Business Walkthrough, Mentoring and Desk Shadowing. To apply for these opportunities and meet with Donna, head to the Oreily Design profile on our website, here.

Or if you’re interested in studying interior design - check out the creative courses at the Dunedin School of Design, the Certificate in Interior Décor at the Southern Institute of Technology, or the Diploma in Design and Decorating at Open Polytechnic

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