I’m a big interior design enthusiast. I always have been. Interior design has always been one of those things I always go back to whenever I feel like I need a dose of pick-me-up inspiration. You know how almost all successful designers in different fields recommend looking for inspiration in adjacent design fields? Interior design is where I find that inspiration, for work and for other aspects of my life.
My mom used to take me with her on many doctor’s appointments when I was a child, and we’d often have to sit and wait for our turn for hours. I don’t remember getting bored much. I’d always grab and start browsing all the tabletop magazines, getting lost in the world of design — particularly that of interiors.
This home decor magazine browsing habit grew with me as I grew. I still love browsing interior design magazines, reading articles about interior design, following Pinterest boards for inspiration, watching home makeover shows (my favorite!) and tours, etc. There’s just something about designing spaces for living that captures my soul and feeds my senses in a most satisfying way. It’s like a breath of fresh air; something I never seem to get bored of.
So, this year, with all that’s been happening in the world that’s out of my control, I decided to focus on the things I can control, and put the time I have at hand into good use: growing and learning new skills — some related to my work, and many that are not. Among the things I decided to focus on and learn more about is interior design.
Instagram ads suck! except when they don’t…
I quit Instagram not long ago. It’s lately become a platform encouraging mindless consumption and encouraging consumerism in the most evil way. Many of us started getting sick of the app way before the major changes that recently happened. One of the most annoying “features” were the ridiculous amount of ads that showed up both in the timeline as well as in between stories. They sucked and they are one of the main reasons I started feeling like I wanted out of that space.
That said, I do have to admit that those ads introduced me to my favorite online yoga platform as well as to a couple of interior design courses that I ended up taking (reviews for each in the next section). So, while I absolutely despise Facebook ads and tracking, I must say that it is those ads that exposed me to these platforms.
This year, I took two courses: a beginner’s course by a small design studio, and a “masterclass” by a “celebrity” interior designer.
The Interior Design Masterclass by Kelly Wearstler
“Kelly Wearstler teaches interior design” is the name of the first class I took. The class can be found on MasterClass.com, which is a platform featuring a bunch of people famously known in their respective fields giving masterclasses in their areas of expertise. For example, there are a couple of classes by Chef Gordon Ramsay teaching cooking, Steve Martin teching comedy, Samuel L. Jackson teaching acting, Marc Jacobs teaching fashion design, and more.
Masterclass.com is beautifully designed and the prospect is very appealing: it sounded like a great way to get a shortcut into interior design best practices and secrets of the trade from someone who’s built a successful career in it.
When I bought access, it was $90 (lifetime access) and there was a subscription model that I wasn’t interested in because I was only interested in this one interior design class.
Following is my brutally honest opinion on this class. Note that this opinion is 100% subjective (so yours may differ if you take the class), and it is not meant as a review of the entire Masterclass platform.
I think this class was not worth my $90. After taking the class I came to the conclusion that the price tag is so high because of Kelly’s celebrity status. I felt like I had paid that money to watch a celebrity talk about interior design, not to learn interior design. (Looking back, I think that I should should have expected that, given that the title of the course is “Kelly Wearstler” in bold capitals and then ”Teaches Interior Design” in a smaller text.)
Kelly Wearstler seems like a good interior designer. But as I watched the classes, I felt more like I was watching a biography than taking a class. Yes, there are bits and pieces of general advice, but it’s the kind of tips and advice you would get from reading or watching a biography about someone. The content was very much focused on showing off Kelly’s work and giving you some tips based on that work, rather than being focused on you and how you can approach designing interiors.
Not to mention that Kelly’s overall style and taste doesn’t match my modern minimalist style, so I didn’t get the satisfaction of seeing inspiration-sparking designs. But then again, taste and style are very subjective, so others might disagree with me and admire the designs she shared.
I’m not saying I didn’t learn anything from this masterclass — that would neither be fair nor true. I did learn a few high-level things, and I’m even quoting Kelly in one of my work-in-progress articles. I just don’t think the takeaways are worth $90 of my money. I was expecting or hoping for a more practical class that I would leave with more than just a few quotes and high-level concepts that I could have learned from reading any average article or magazine online.
After taking this masterclass, I came across a more “smaller” course which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for in a beginner’s interior design course — much more practical and overall more valuable.
“Interior Design for Beginners” by STUDIOLAV
Domestika is another platform that is home to a collection of courses about various kinds of creative topics.
There are more than a couple of courses I am interested in taking on this platform, but I started with an interior design course for beginners by a small two-person design studio called STUDIOLAV. The course is called “Interior Design for Beginners”. (The studio’s name is no where to be mentioned in the title, so that was a good sign. Heh.)
The course is originally priced at ~$45 but it has been on discount for weeks and selling for only ~$13.
I watched the first couple of videos for free just to get an overview of what I’d be signing up for. I instantly fell in love with the designers teaching the course as well as their SoHo Loft design project they would be using as a case study throughout the course. A quick look at the table of contents, I knew I would at least be getting enough value out of it for the small price I was paying.
I was not wrong. This class was fantastic! The course is amazing value for money. I think it’s ridiculous that a course with this much value is sold for so little. It’s almost unfair!
Loukas and Vasso are not native English speakers, and you can almost tell that Vasso wasn’t extremely comfortable speaking in English, but it was also so obvious how much effort went into making the course more accessible to people. I had video captions on all the time, which aided my understanding. (Their captions are great, by the way!)
You can clearly tell that Vasso and Loukas made this course for you and about you, not about them, despite having an admirable portfolio.
Unlike Kelly’s masterclass which felt like going through her portfolio, this class is about one specific project that they walk you through step by step, explaining the steps in the process with care and teaching you how you can do what they did.
In the course, they cover pretty much every step of the design process. And throughout each step, it’s about you and about teaching you how to do what they did, with a strong emphasis on being you, using the tools that you prefer, cultivating your own style, and pouring your own personality into it. This class teaches you the What and gives you an example from their experience of the How, and suggests the tools for you to then do it either by following their lead or doing it your way.
Instead of covering just high-level concepts, they show you design artifacts like sketches — the different kinds that are created; they talk about the tools they use and you can use too; they recommend books, magazines, Web sites, and apps to help you get your homework done and inspire your creative designer’s mind. They even take you through steps like buying and installing the furniture, choosing colors and fabrics and materials, and more. It’s a real insider look into everything they did to take that beautiful space from vision to life, concept to execution.
This course is great. 💯% awesome value for money, that’s for sure. I watched the whole course material just to get an overview of everything covered, but I’ll be watching it one more time and taking the time to go over the exercises, worksheets, and resources and books that they listed and recommended (I’d like to buy a couple of those too).
Baby steps forward
The Internet is amazing. It still blows my mind every day that you can learn almost anything in the comfort of your home now. You can cultivate skills, learn new ones, and just grow.
These won’t be the last courses I’ll be taking on interior design. One thing I’ve decided to do this year is to start pursuing my passions in different areas (many of which are in the area of design). Where this will take me in each one, I still don’t know. I already have a couple of spaces I want to design and look forward to doing it with a true interior designer’s mindset and approach.
For now, interior design is a hobby. A kind of serious one. Will it turn into something more? I don’t know. Will it turn into a side career? I don’t know. Might I start a blog all about interior design to follow this interest and share my passion with others who share it with me? 👀 I don’t know that either. What I do know is that I’ve taken a step forward into something that I love, and that alone is something to be excited about. What the future holds, I don’t need to know now.
Baby steps forward. Into interior design. And more.