interior design niche ideas

interior design niche ideas

okay, we’re talking about portfolios today. what to include, what not to include, whereto host yours, and tips for designing and maintaining one. we’ll cover everything you need to knowto make one that’s flexible and useful over time whether you’re a student or a professional. be sure to stick around at the end for detailson how you can have your portfolio reviewed on the channel. your portfolio is a professional statementof who you are, the kind of work you do, and your process.


it speaks for your brand in your absence andeveryone needs one. this is the last paper-based portfolio i createdback let’s just say, it was a long time ago the last time i was seeking employmentwith another firm. putting this together wasn’t terribly difficult,but it also wasn’t very time efficient. and, it was expensive to maintain, keep upto date, which is probably what kept me from regularly updating it. because your portfolio is already out-of-datewhen you publish it, a paper copy’s long-term utility is questionable. now, i’m not going to show you how to createone of these.


you really only need one portfolio and that’sa digital portfolio. within the digital sandbox though there area subset of decisions you’ll need to make. will you use an app on a tablet for example,a multi-page pdf, a web-hosted portfolio, or a self-hosted website? no matter where you choose to host it, thecurrency of a digital portfolio is imagery, usually in the form of j-pegs. you’ll also need some text, a bio and abackbone of metadata. digital platforms allow your work to be easilyshared, collaged and manipulated and they can quickly be replaced with new work as youcomplete it.


they also allow you to use audio and videoto present your work. a digital portfolio’s distinct advantageis related to online search and metadata. but we’ll get into that in a minute. among digital portfolios, there are importantdifferences; not just any digital portfolio will suffice. probably the easiest thing to do is to hostyour work on someone else’s online platform. free or low-cost online portfolio hostingon sites like behance, issuu, coroflot, and others offer modern, minimally styled portfoliotemplates, which can be set up in a matter of minutes.


but consider that you’re sitting besidethousands of other designers looking for exactly the same thing you are: to stand out in acrowd not to mention all those pop-ups and adverts. ask yourself if that’s really the best placeto distinguish your brand. another straightforward option is to installan app like morpholio or portfolio on a tablet and curate your images there. it’s handy for face-to-face client or employerpresentations, but it suffers from some of the same limiting factors related to the physicalportfolio and you’re only an app update away from it no longer functioning as you’dexpect.


this approach is effectively a digital pictureframe and ignores all the useful data embedded in your digital works. data you could be using for discovery. ideally, your goal should be to control everydigital asset you possibly can and all the branding surrounding it. everywhere. if behance ceases to exist tomorrow, or thattablet app doesn’t work because you just updated your operating system, where doesthat leave your portfolio? you can’t control what you don’t own.


this is why i think the only real portfoliooption today is a self-hosted website. now, this isn’t a difficult exercise, ipromise. if you don’t have one, i recommend usingsquarespace because the templates are minimally styled with simple navigation and full-screengalleries. this allows your work to be the most prominentcontent on the page and keeps you from spending more time designing the container for yourportfolio than the content inside. the best portfolios not only showcase yourwork, they narrate who you are as a designer, how you see the world, and something aboutyour personal design process. use it to narrate your story.


at a minimum, i think your site should includetwo pages an about page and a portfolio page. as you have time you can build it out fromthere. first, the portfolio page. only include your best work. you only have a short time to convince someoneyou’re worth a second look, a couple of minutes at most. a few remarkable projects are preferable tomany half-baked ones. supplement with minimal, descriptive textin the sidebar. the infographic style which overlays paragraphsof text on the image won’t be read by anyone


online and it only serves to confuse the viewer. you should look to other professionals tosee how their portfolios are structured. take note that they’re using properly exposed,well-composed photographs of buildings, with deep blacks and white whites. simple line work for floor plans, elevationsand sections when they exist and they directly present models and renderings without anyoverlaid text. they’re forcing you to focus on the work,not a sidebar or lots of text or fancy icons. you should learn from this. precisely what you choose to show should beinfluenced by the type of work you’re seeking.


now, this applies to students, interns, andprofessionals alike. if you fill yours with slick computer renderingsand no sketches it tells me that your primary competency is computer rendering. if you’re seeking a computer modeling position,that’s probably a good strategy. however, if you’re looking to be a leaddesigner, show your process: your sketches, your models, alongside your renders. sketches. now, hand sketching and the ability to graphicallycommunicate your ideas is fundamental to our practice and it will always be.


it’s one of the most sought after skillsin our profession at every experience level so be sure to include them in your portfolio. models. when i see a hand-built model in a portfolioi stop and take notice. i recognize, on this one, that it’s a personalbias of mine. but, the reason i mention it is to encourageyou to research the places or people you want to work with. understand what resonates with them. if you ring that bell, you’ll distinguishyour portfolio from everyone else’s in their


eyes. this goes for businesses looking to establisha presence in a niche or with a specific clientele as well. computer renders. i think computer renderings are fantasticwhen done well. but i also think they’re a bit of a commoditytoday. the best renders illustrate your artisticviewpoint: a building’s true nature, the messiness of the world, a narrative, a story. this is much more appealing to me than renderingevery last shiny pane of glass and every perfect,


happy, balloon-wielding child walking towardit. showing some versatility is a plus too, evenfor seasoned pros. sculpture, photography, drawing, furnituredesign, filmmaking; whatever creative pursuits you engage in when you leave the studio shouldhave some sort of home in your portfolio. including academic or theoretical projectsis usually your only option early in your career. as you begin practicing and building things,always be photographing and documenting your work with your portfolio in mind. process imagery typically gets lost alongthe way when you’re busy, but it’s often


just as compelling as the final work. it’s proof too of your skill as an architectand your ability to shepherd your ideas through the battlefield of design and construction. there comes a point in your career when you’retransitioning from student academic work to built-work. tailor your portfolio to the narrative you’readvancing. i would expect an intern architect to havefewer built works than a newly licensed architect, while a mid-career architect is likely tohave all buildings and no academic work in their portfolio.


the jump to professional photography is abig step. but, think about the time investment of designingand building the work. isn’t that worthy of hiring another proto document it properly? it has little value if the photographs don’tcomplement the quality of your design. and, image quality directly correlates towhat you can charge for your services. again, it’s all about the narrative. professional photography projects a narrativeof confidence to your clients and justifies your professional fee. if you can’t afford professional imagesinvest in a good dslr and learn to use it


along with lightroom and photoshop. be sure to watch my video on what i use inmy studio. if you’re including project images froma previous employer be sure to get permission and purchase the rights to use the imageson your site beforehand. photographers – like architects – retainthe rights to their work, architects typically purchase a license to use the photos for marketingpurposes. now, let’s get into the second page youneed on your website slash portfolio, the about page. this is your chance to show your personality.


a brief bio is helpful just don’t get toocheeky. draft this as you might your twitter or instagrambio. everyone is sort of accustomed to quicklyskimming these for information and they can say a lot about your character with very fewwords. link up a pdf of your cv or your resume. also, include links to your social profilessomewhere on this page: linkedin, twitter, instagram, etcetera. people can click as they want or need moreinformation. and, don’t forget to include your preferredcontact details and make sure it’s a professional


email address, not something like: meat-boyninety-six at hotmail dot com. if you’re seeking an internship, or you’rea student, you can list a range of relevant skills. be sure though that if you list it a skillthat you can honestly stand behind your competency. can you confidently make something with whateverit is you’re listing? if the answer is yes, keep it otherwise leaveit off. now, skills i would look for when hiring areany that display your creative problem solving skillset. hand graphics: can you sketch, draw, watercolor?


if so, show me. visual communication is extremely important,what digital graphic skills do you have: photoshop, lightroom, indesign? architecture is as much about good communicationskills as it is about design skills an effective communication begins with writing. do you blog? have you published anything? have you given any public presentations? any web development skills?


do you know wordpress? are you a social media influencer or expert? tell me about your online marketing skills. do you know anything about e-mail list developmentusing convertkit, aweber, or mailchimp? then there’s cad skills. now, i don’t necessarily care what flavorof cad you know, because to me it’s just another tool; a means to an end. if you know one cad program, chances are youcan learn any cad program. how about digital modeling and rendering?


do you know sketchup, 3dsmax, rhino, lumion,etcetera? present the skills you want to be hired for. work that wasn’t designed by you. this sort of goes without saying, but thisshould extend to projects you didn’t have a creative force in realizing. almost all architecture is the result of ateam of people; architects understand this and if you’re working in a large firm, youmay not have generated the building concept. honestly state your role. if you were part of a team say so, don’tclaim credit for something you didn’t do.


next up, old work. your portfolio isn’t an archive of everywork you’ve ever completed. populate it with your best and most currentwork. projects from five years ago might look dated. next: a lot of text. people aren’t going to read a life historyor paragraphs of text, especially online. structure your text for legibility. think in the heading one, heading two, headingthree style format. what’s the hierarchy of information youwant people to understand?


spelling errors. enough said. bad photos. if you don’t have good photography for aproject, leave it out. poor photography calls into question yourother work as well and your judgment for including it. next up, construction documents. i’m going to assume if you’re buildingthings in the world, you’ve sort of got this figured out and if you’re an internor graduate that you don’t yet.


so, including these isn’t terribly useful. next: irrelevant work experience. unless you creatively mowed lawns into amazinglydetailed tartan grids as an art experiment, don’t include this kind of thing as workexperience. and, hobbies. if a hobby is a creative outlet for you, threadexamples into your portfolio gallery rather than sharing it as a separate interest outof context. if you build your portfolio like this as astand-alone website perhaps the most useful by-products to you are the meta-skills you’lllearn by doing it.


these confer a real competitive advantageto you as an applicant. if you know something about web developmentchances are good you’ll have the basic skills to update nearly any website out there. if you’re familiar with blogging, it alsomeans you probably know something about writing, and you probably have a sense for what ittakes to visually and verbally communicate your ideas. it means you understand something about seoand search rankings and marketing. these are meta-skills that transfer to everypossible vocation you might consider in the future.


so even if this exercise doesn’t land youa job in architecture or a new client, you’ll have the experience that can be brought tobear on a range of life paths and leveraged to shape your future. without a website, you might as well not exist. but, just having one doesn’t guarantee you’llbe discovered. the metadata you include in your site is asimportant for discovery in search as the images you upload to your portfolio. search engines can’t see images so theyrely on the metadata appended to the image when it’s uploaded.


make sure to include metadata for every imageyou add to your site. use minimal, keyword-rich text to describeboth your project pages and the images. title each image descriptively, using thealt-text field and make sure it’s sized to load quickly. don’t expect five-meg j-pegs to performvery well in search. you want to optimize your images before youupload them. presenting your portfolio as a website isa known, comfortable experience for most everyone in your target market. and, it doesn’t involve emailing aroundfourteen-meg pdfs to a potential employer


or client. you’ll simply send a link in your coveremail. when i receive a job inquiry with a fourteen-megattachment in my inbox, i delete it. i think it’s bad form to thrust a largeuninvited document into someone’s inbox especially without any kind of introduction. contrast this with a friendly email that makesa personal introduction and includes a link to a website that says something like, “hey,love your work especially the insert whatever project you like, uh, if you’re ever lookingfor someone to complement your design team i’d so appreciate your consideration.”


now, the truth is i hear this kind of genuineplea for a human connection so infrequently, that i’d absolutely click on the link andlook, even if i wasn’t hiring. do you want to know what i do get all thetime? those fourteen-meg pdfs attached to emailsthat read, “dear sir or madam, please look at my work and contact me at your earliestconvenience to discuss my potential employment with your firm. my resume and portfolio are attached for review.” these are immediately deleted and i can almostguarantee that every architect i know would do the same.


a website is a resource you can direct asyou wish, something you control. as you finish projects and make new connectionsyou can direct everything else you don’t control online – things like social mediaprofiles and email lists toward that asset and you can use it to your benefit. it’s easy to update and the metadata associatedwith each update ripples through the internet as google’s spiders continually crawl yoursite, opening it up to search traffic, referrals, and new opportunities. now as i mentioned in the beginning of thevideo, if you want to have a chance to have your portfolio reviewed on an upcoming youtubelive-stream here, email me a link to your


portfolio, no fourteen-meg attachments, right? and i’ll chose a few to critique in an upcominglive-stream. now, the only way i can get in touch withyou and let you know when i’ll be live-streaming, is if you’re a subscriber. so, if you’re not already subscribed besure to do so and click the bell so i can notify you when it’s time to tune in. cheers.


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