Certain majors at ACU require their students to work in an internship program to earn full credits for their degrees as well as allow them to gain additional experience.
Marilyn Salazar, an interior design major from Abilene, said that her internship allowed her to accomplish just that as well as learn more about the purpose of interior design.
“Interior design majors have to have an internship transferring from their junior to senior year,” Salazar said. “I did mine with Rebecca Gibbs Design, while husband, Lucas, operates Lucas Gibbs Build.”
One project Salazar contributed to when working with Gibbs was creating the interior for the Well Church. She said that she helped turn Gibbs’ designs into 3D and selected color and pattern samples for the designs.
Salazar, who has contributed to designs in the library, said looking at her own designs being put to use gives her motivation to keep pursuing this career.
“Growing up I feel like I’ve constantly been told I couldn’t do certain things, but looking at my work and contributions shows me that I can do anything,” she said.
However, she said that it was while she was working that she knew this was going to be her permanent career field.
“Seeing the expressions on the faces of the clients when presenting a design helped me realize that this is what I need to be doing.”
She said that she’s not sure if she’ll start big or small, but that there’s no limit to the number of opportunities.
“This internship gave me a lot of experience and opened a lot of career opportunities, especially with the economy’s current booming state,” Salazar said.
Salazar said it’s a process of finding your permanent position in interior design:
“A friend of mine [who worked with Rebecca Gibbs] said that ‘sometimes you start small then go big, then go back to small then end up in a bigger place.”
Because of this, she said she believes that this does nothing but help with adding to her experience.
However, she said interior designers know their work is not just decorating; that designs are supposed to be purposeful and functional.
Website hoteldesigns.net quoted Chris Gwyther, managing director of the creative agency Phoenix Wharf; He said that focus should be on the functionality as well:
“A good deal of it is effectively invisible and that’s as it should be. The end-user should experience a space as being seamless and integrated, but when clients new to commissioning design realise all it takes to achieve that, it can be a real eye-opener.”
Salazar said she believes certain depictions of interior design in the media has helped tarnish its reputation.
“Most people often associate interior design with Joanna Gaines, which is not correct. She’s not even certified, she got her degree in communications,” Salazar said with a laugh. “What we’re really supposed to do is help with the safety, welfare and health of the public.”
Factors interior designers often have to think about is accessibility for those who are disabled whether it’s building ramps at certain entrances and exits or installing wall pockets for the blind where they are needed.
However, interior designers also have to focus on factors that can help prevent accidents from happening.
Salazar said that one of the first things that she learned in interior design was the New London School explosion that killed more than 295 teachers and students and injured more than 300 in March 18, 1937.
“In the school’s woodshop downstairs, someone plugged in a [sander] while there was an odorless gas-leak. It’s things like this that if they are missed, lead to people getting hurt or killed,” she said.
She said it’s the little things people don’t think about when it comes to safety in interior design. Things like less amount of exits and little to no windows can be hazardous in events such as a fire.
Other factors Salazar said are being considered more today are the possibilities for threats to a building and selecting color palettes so people can feel a certain mood.
She said designs put into places like the library range from places to leave or hide in the event of a threat to the building to selecting cool colors so people inside are calm as opposed to stressed when studying.