indxWhen you think of interior design, you probably think of beautifully-decorated, well-appointed rooms.  You imagine a career matching couches to artwork, or advising clients on the best way to position televisions and sectionals while still allowing a natural traffic flow.  You dream about inventing the next kitchen island.

However, the interior design industry is just like anything else: an extremely high-profile, “glamorous” field populated by hundreds of thousands of aspiring designers.  An internship at a design company is likely to be extremely competitive and will require you to live, income-free, in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Instead of going the obvious – and most competitive route, consider starting your career in one of these interior design subsets.  All of them are likely to increase in growth in the next 5 years, meaning you’ll be well set to make your mark in a meaningful job instead of fetching coffee for a famous design house and racking up debt.  Here are 4 up-and-coming subsets of interior design!

imagesAging In Place Design

As America’s population ages, more and more adults will find themselves in the position of being members of the “sandwich generation,” which includes people who are taking care of older parents and young children simultaneously.

Sandwich generation families, as well as the older relatives they support, often favor a concept known as “aging in place,” which involves modifying current homes to support the needs of mobility- and health-challenged relatives.

This presents a challenge to designers: how to modify a family home to allow for mobility challenges such as wheelchairs, in addition to generational issues such as mother-in-law suites or other privacy and autonomy concerns, while still making the home as functional as possible for every member of the family.

The next innovation in home design isn’t the kitchen island.  It’s a way to make shower grab bars attractive and welcoming, rather than inhospitable and sterile.  Time to get to work.

ce5c7510b7571b5505a2ffbf1de27359Home Office Design

More and more workers are taking the freelance route, whether by choice or by necessity.  A fluctuating economy has made contract employment even more popular, meaning that even when workers are employed by a large company, they rarely get benefits like onsite offices or permanent work spaces.  Enter the rise of the home office.

Home offices used to be corners of bedrooms or sections of the basement.  Now, workers are turning the best rooms in the house into ergonomic, high-speed workstations. Whether you want to construct a new standing desk or learn more about light-diffusing vertical blinds, there are plenty of opportunities for innovation in home offices.  Set yourself apart from other designers by knowing which home office fixtures are tax-deductible, and offer home office consultations in addition to your design skills.

imaagesSmall Home/Apartment Design

“Small living” is experiencing a cultural revival, as people are choosing to stay in cities and live in small apartments or homes instead of move out to the more expansive suburbs.  This means that today’s designers have a significant opportunity: how to create a functional, differentiated living space in an apartment that barely tops 400 square feet?

Learn about the Tiny House Movement and develop a career designing in small spaces. Learn how to help people manage every aspect of family life – from cooking to entertaining to creating child-friendly play spaces – in deliberately tiny apartments or homes.  As Generation Y prepares to start adult life in constrained spaces, they’ll likely welcome your services and be eager to make their new homes as stylish as possible.

indexCorporate Office Design

The next revolution in corporate office design hasn’t happened yet, but it has to come from somewhere.  Maybe it will come from you.

When you prepare to begin your interior design career, don’t think about what’s popular; instead, think about what is needed.  In the next 10 years, people will need to adapt homes to accommodate new babies or aging parents, as well as home offices.  Offices will need to find new ways to cut costs and provide productive work spaces.  All of these areas need talented interior designers, and are likely to be overlooked by other candidates who are dreaming about throw pillows and kitchen fixtures.  If you want to have a fantastic career in interior design, look for one of these problems and figure out how it can be solved.


Anna Hicks is the author of the above article.  She is the editor of  “I’ve Paid For This Twice Already… ”  This article was reprinted from Lauren Berger’s