Having just joined the HomeSmiths team as a Junior Designer, and with a background in retail Visual Merchandising, the last two months have very much been a ‘contrast and compare’ of the parallels of Interior Design and Visual Merchandising.
I had worked in Visual Merchandising for nine years previous to my change in direction, and it’s funny to see the similarities in the two trades. In both roles there are aspects of display, client/customer demographic or ‘target market’ if you prefer, colour use, shape and space, lighting, marketing, sourcing… the list goes on!
In fact the only thing I’ve found I don’t know ‘instinctively’ since starting two months ago, is anything to do with measurements for curtains and upholstery. However, in my first week I was asked to cover a divan with a measure of silk and a staple gun, which I got totally stuck into, reminiscing of covering floorboards in department store windows with PVC and a staple gun! I was very pleased with the result! And also pleased with the temperature! Anyone who has ever worked in a shop window will tell you how uncomfortable it is to do manual work behind glass that’s had the sun on it all day! I think ‘melting’ is that word that would cover it!
With any business I’m sure, hiring somebody with a differing background is always going to be a risk but it can also be a great advantage to both parties. I’m personally finding it totally refreshing to be in a new environment entirely, but still able to do my job well with minimal supervision. Also ideas have been flying about left, right and centre about new projects and areas of business we can approach. Previously I’d felt almost out of creativity, like my well had run dry, so it’s a fantastic feeling to have my head buzzing with energy again.
Do I miss anything about Visual Merchandising? I don’t think I do yet, no. Sure I’m not working with fashion and mannequins anymore, something I always loved, but homeware was always my favourite section to dress and I never got enough of that work, as fashion wear will always move faster than fashion ware. Also I think the older I have become – although I need to keep reminding myself that late 20’s is not old (!) – Younger blood comes in with hungry ambition and unless you are a true ‘fashionista’, you will always grow out of following trends, which of course makes it difficult to then dress mannequins because your eye is off the ball and you’re creating something that doesn’t interest you anymore.
I’m very glad I made the change, and I feel lucky that I was given the opportunity, despite having no ‘Interior Design’ experience per se, but transferable skills can often be a winner!
Written by Katy
Above right - My first (very 'shop window') display as part of the HomeSmiths team, in the East Grinstead Plot 2 development.