Journeying into the Interior Design Industry: An Interview with IDI Course Tutor Marieke Rijksen

Have you ever dreamt of transforming spaces and creating functional havens that reflect your client's unique style? If so, a career in interior design might be your perfect calling. The world of interior design offers boundless creative freedom and the opportunity to make a tangible impact on people's lives. It's a field where artistic vision meets practical application, turning dreams into livable realities.

In this special feature, we delve into the mindset of one of The Interior Design Institute's esteemed tutors, Marieke Rijksen. This interview offers a rare glimpse into the qualities that define a successful interior designer and what sets the exceptional apart from the rest. Join us as we journey through the insights of a dedicated mentor and creative mind at the heart of IDI.

interview with Marieke Rijksen, IDI course tutor, hero banner image

Image source: Marieke Rijksen

Can you tell us about your journey into the interior design industry and what inspired you to pursue this career path?

Amidst the hustle and bustle of my corporate job, I found myself yearning for a creative outlet. Despite my hectic schedule, I couldn't shake the desire to dive into something artistic. So, about 11 years ago, I enrolled in the IDI course, and it felt like a blast from the past, reminding me of my childhood days spent rearranging furniture and playing with colours.

Childhood dream?

As much as I loved rearranging my bedroom as a child, my real dream was becoming a zookeeper.

What is a typical ‘day in the life’ like for you as an interior designer? Do you have any rituals that you stick to?

My journey in interior design takes a somewhat unconventional route, blending my passion for teaching with my roles as an influencer and creative consultant. I have the privilege of guiding over 3500 aspiring designers, a role that fills me with immense joy as I witness their growth. I've realised that my approach leans more towards reaching a broader audience through my blog and social media, rather than focusing solely on individual clients.

While I do offer online brainstorming sessions for those interested, my main focus has shifted towards working with commercial clients and utilising my platform on Instagram to influence design trends, share valuable insights through my blog, and highlight innovative design solutions. For my followers in The Netherlands, I also offer exclusive design packages through The Home Style Club.

This approach allows me to combine my love for design with storytelling, reaching a wider audience and making a substantial impact on the design industry.

Balancing this professional life with family time remains a priority. It's a challenging but rewarding endeavour to integrate work with personal life, shaping a distinctive path as an interior designer, tutor, influencer, and family person. This blend of roles crafts a life that's as uniquely designed as the spaces I'm passionate about creating.

Course tutor, Marieke, balancing life at home with family

Image source: Marieke Rijksen

How would you describe your design style?

I don't love labelling my design approach - I mix new with vintage, upcycled items, and art to create affordable, story-rich spaces. I was struggling to find a name that would describe my style. It gravitates towards a mix of urban chic vintage with a touch of jungalow but primarily I follow my intuition. I don’t follow trends but love eye catchers. Statements. Without going over the top.

I asked my husband, and he said: “Well, your style is a bit out there and makes a statement. It’s bold, daring but down to earth, without screaming it from the rooftops.” And that moment marked the inception of the name ‘Whispering Bold’.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

My journey as an interior designer is deeply influenced by the world around me—the simple, yet profound beauty of our daily lives, the stories held in vintage treasures, and the creativity sparked by DIY and upcycling. The way we live, the places we've been, and the memories we create with family shape my designs, pushing me towards spaces that are beautiful, yes, but also truly functional and reflective of real life.

I have a soft spot for vintage finds; they add a layer of charm and history to a room that's just irreplaceable. Likewise, there's something incredibly rewarding about rolling up my sleeves for a DIY project or breathing new life into an old piece through upcycling. It's these personal touches that make a space not just a house, but a home.

Nature, too, plays a pivotal role in my work. It teaches me about harmony and calm, inspiring me to bring those elements indoors to create a peaceful retreat from the world.

At the heart of my design philosophy is the desire to create spaces that are not only accessible and practical but also deeply personal sanctuaries that celebrate the essence of living. They're places where life's beauty, the stories of its occupants, and the allure of the past come together in harmony. By blending modern practicality with nostalgic touches and a commitment to sustainability, I aim to craft spaces that captivate visually while nurturing the soul and respecting our planet.

Marieke’s nature inspired interiors, showing bathroom, home office and living spaces.

Image source: Marieke Rijksen

What are some essential skills or qualities that every interior designer should possess?

Being a standout interior designer hinges on a mix of key skills: creativity, resourcefulness, organisational prowess, effective communication, and a strong sense of practicality.

Creativity is the spark, enabling us to envision and create beautiful, unique spaces. Resourcefulness allows us to cleverly overcome challenges, finding smart solutions that bring our creative visions to life without breaking the bank. organisational skills keep our projects on track and smoothly managed, ensuring every detail falls perfectly into place on time and within budget.

Communication is crucial for understanding clients' visions and translating them into reality, as well as coordinating with contractors and suppliers to ensure everything aligns with the design plan. And practicality grounds our designs in reality, ensuring they're not just visually stunning but also functional and liveable, truly catering to the needs of those who inhabit them.

Together, these skills enable us to craft spaces that beautifully blend form with function, embodying the essence of exceptional interior design.

What do you believe sets apart exceptional interior designers from the rest?

Exceptional interior designers distinguish themselves through a deep understanding of balance—melding creativity with practicality, intuition with insight, and innovation with timeless elegance. They possess an innate ability to listen deeply, translating clients' visions into reality while pushing the boundaries of design.

Their work ischaracterised by meticulous attention to detail, a commitment to sustainability, and the capacity to create spaces that resonate on a personal level, making every project not just a design but a story told through space.

Marieke’s kitchen interior design

Image source: Marieke Rijksen

What is your favourite part about the IDI course?

My favourite part about the IDI course, reflecting on my journey as a student 10 years ago, is its incredible flexibility and the personalisedapproach it offers. The course allows you to start at any moment, fitting seamlessly into your life, whether you're juggling a job, family responsibilities, or both. Its online format means you can study from anywhere, anytime, making learning highly accessible.

What stood out for me was the tailored feedback from tutors—this bespoke guidance really honed my skills and boosted my confidence. Plus, knowing support was always just a message away provided peace of mind throughout my learning journey. It's this combination of flexibility, personalised feedback, and constant support that truly sets the IDI experience apart for me.

What is your favourite part about being a tutor?

What I absolutely love about being an interior design tutor is this incredible opportunity to guide students from all corners of the world. Each of them brings their own unique slice of life, their backgrounds, and their cultures into their work.

This rich mosaic of experiences not only enriches the learning environment but also continually fuels my own creativity and broadens my design horizons. There's something incredibly inspiring about witnessing the fusion of different cultural influences in design, sparking fresh ideas and perspectives that challenge and expand my own creative boundaries.

It's this exchange of knowledge and inspiration that keeps my passion for interior design vibrant and evolving. Being a tutor isn't just about imparting wisdom; it's a two-way street where I, too, learn and draw inspiration from the very students I mentor.

Marieke’s study and dining area interior designs

Image source: Marieke Rijksen

What advice would you give to new students?

For new students embarking on their journey with the IDI, my advice is to fully embrace the flexibility and resources at your disposal. Dive into the course with an open mind and a willingness to explore your creativity. Use the unique opportunity to study wherever and whenever suits you best, but also set a consistent schedule for yourself—it's a balance that fosters both discipline and freedom.

Don't hesitate to reach out for support and feedback; the personalised guidance you'll receive is invaluable for your growth. Remember, every piece of feedback is a stepping stone towards refining your skills.

Lastly, engage with the community on Facebook. Learning from peers and sharing your own insights can greatly enrich your experience. This journey is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about growing as a designer and as an individual. Make the most of it and enjoy the process!

How do you find a healthy work/life balance?

Finding that elusive work-life balance is honestly a bit of a struggle for me, especially in the digital age where my work as a freelance interior designer and tutor can follow me around the clock and across the globe. The beauty and the curse of my job are that I can work anytime, anywhere, which often blurs the lines between 'work hours' and 'me time.'

The truth is, there's always something I could be doing, and more often than not, I find myself caught up in the whirlwind, unable to press pause. If only there was a magic button to switch off my brain and gently remind me to take a step back and breathe; to remember that finding time for myself isn't just beneficial, it's necessary. Balancing passion with peace is a challenge, but it's one I'm learning to navigate, one step at a time.

more snapshots of interior design in Marieke’s home, showing bathroom, bedroom and dining areas

Image source: Marieke Rijksen

What’s on your wishlist?

On my bucket list, there's a special place for turning unconventional spaces into dream homes. Imagine converting a loft or an old church into a cosy, character-filled retreat, or building a minimalist, eco-friendly container home. These projects are more than just design challenges; they're opportunities to blend history with modern living, to push the boundaries of traditional architecture, and to create something truly unique. I also would love to develop more of my own home décor product lines.

Do you follow any trends?

I'm all about marching to the beat of my own drum, especially when it comes to interior design. You won't catch me just following the latest trends because, for me, it's not about what's "in" right now. It's about creating spaces that really mean something to the people living in them. I love mixing things up - combining different styles, textures, and even eras to make something unique and personal.

Dodging the trend train lets me focus on what really matters: making interiors that don't just look good but feel right and stand the test of time. It's about putting heart and soul into my designs, not just following the crowd.

How can people connect with you? + @whisperingbold

Course tutor Marieke, at home with her dog.

Image source: Marieke Rijksen

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

The role of an interior designer extends far beyond selecting curtains and cushions. It’s about crafting spaces that harmonise aesthetics with functionality, tailoring each environment to reflect the unique identities of its occupants while ensuring comfort and utility. Interior designers are the maestros of space, guiding their clients from the initial conception through to the final touches that transform a space into a sanctuary or a vibrant workplace.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Client Consultation: The journey begins with a deep dive into the client’s vision, aspirations, and the essence they wish to capture in their space.
  • Layout Optimisation: Designers meticulously plan layouts that balance beauty with practicality, ensuring spaces are both inviting and functional.
  • Material and Décor Selection: The choice of materials and decorative elements is pivotal in setting the ambiance, with every selection speaking to the desired aesthetic.
  • Project Oversight: Designers oversee the project from sketch to completion, ensuring every detail aligns with the initial vision.
  • Collaboration: A collaborative spirit is essential, as designers work closely with architects, contractors, and artisans to bring the design to life.

The Skills You Need to Thrive

Success in the world of interior design is predicated on a unique blend of skills that marry creativity with practicality. Essential qualities include:

  • Creativity and Vision: The heart of interior design lies in the ability to envision and materialise spaces that reflect the client's dreams in both form and function.
  • Technical Skills: A thorough understanding of space planning, building regulations, and the structural aspects of design ensures that creative visions are grounded in reality.
  • Communication and Client Management: Effective communication skills are crucial for articulating design concepts to clients and collaborating with construction teams to bring those ideas to fruition.
  • Project Management: The ability to manage timelines, budgets, and resources effectively ensures that projects are completed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

How To Become An Interior Designer: The Pathways

Embarking on a career in interior design offers a variety of entry points, each leading to rewarding opportunities in this dynamic field:

  • Diploma or Certificate Programs: These offer targeted training in interior design principles and practices, catering to individuals looking for specialised knowledge.
  • Experience and Portfolio Building: Practical experience, whether through internships or design assistant roles, is invaluable. A well-curated portfolio showcases your design aesthetic and your capability to see projects through from concept to completion.

Finding Your Design Niche

The realm of interior design is expansive, encompassing a broad spectrum of specialisations that cater to every conceivable space and style preference. From the intimacy of residential design to the broader scale of commercial projects, and from the focused expertise required in sustainable design to the detailed considerations of kitchen and bath design, the industry offers a niche for every passion. Delving into these specialisations enables designers to discover their unique voice within the vast chorus of the design world, crafting spaces that are not only functional and beautiful but also deeply resonant with the people who inhabit them.

Why You Should Take the Leap

The journey into interior design is a path paved with creativity, personal growth, and the profound satisfaction of transforming visions into reality. This career offers more than just a creative outlet; it presents the opportunity to profoundly impact the quality of life for individuals and communities alike. The joy found in the creative process, the exhilaration of facing and overcoming unique challenges, and the gratification of enhancing client well-being through thoughtful design, all contribute to the deeply rewarding nature of the profession. Interior design is not merely a job—it's a passion that enriches both the designer and those who experience their work.

A Glimpse into Your Design Journey

Embarking on our comprehensive interior design course opens the door to a world where creativity meets practicality, led by industry veterans like Marieke Rijksen. Our curriculum spans the essentials of design theory to the complexities of business practices, equipping you with a robust toolkit to navigate the design landscape successfully. Highlights of the course include immersive portfolio development, hands-on project management experience, and opportunities for real-world application through internships. This holistic approach ensures that upon completion, you're not only prepared to enter the design field but poised to excel within it.

Ready to Unlock Your Potential?

Is your heart set on a career where creativity, innovation, and design excellence converge? Take the first step on this exhilarating journey by enrolling in our course today. Join a vibrant community of aspiring designers and seasoned professionals, guided by the expertise of industry leaders.

The world of interior design is a canvas of endless possibilities, waiting for your unique vision and touch. Embrace this opportunity to turn your passion for design into a vibrant career, shaping the spaces that will define tomorrow's living and working environments. Your journey into the heart of interior design starts now.

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