How I got where I am today: Debra McQuin

Debra McQuin worked as an Executive in the advertising industry before retraining as an Interior Designer and setting up her own company which specialises in high-end residential projects.

Where did you study?

I studied at KLC School of Design.

What did you study and for how long?

I studied Interior Decoration, which included modules on history of design and professional practice. I took a full-time certificate course which lasted 10 weeks.

What did you learn on the course?

The most important new skill I learned was technical drawing. I also refined my skills in space planning and developing interior schemes.

What would be your recommended route into interior design?

I don’t think there’s any one route in. Most of the people I studied with were ‘career changers’, as was I. We all brought different backgrounds and skills to our new interior design careers. What I think matters most is that interior design should be your passion. Everyone thinks being an interior designer is about creativity, but that’s only one part of the job. There are two other things that are essential: being able to listen to clients and translate what they want into reality (which is not always easy when they have trouble articulating it themselves) and knowing how to run a business.

Do you think it’s important to get some architectural training?

Not unless you want to be an Architect. It’s helpful to have knowledge of the building/construction process and space planning is a critical part of our business. But what an Architect does is highly specialised. If I need architectural skills on a job I hire an Architect. Having said that, understanding how a space is going to be used and suggesting the best layout and flow of that space is something an interior designer can often do just as well as an Architect.

What’s the most enjoyable aspect of the work you do?

I love exploring design possibilities – searching out and finding new materials, fabrics, and furniture for a project. There are so many beautiful things out there that I never have to use the same thing twice!

Further information

Visit the McQuin Partnership. Find out more about the Design Council.