Our Young Designer series aims to inspire those who are yet to get their first foot on the ladder in this fiercely competitive industry. Editorial assistant Olivia Shead spoke to Briana Hayes, interior designer at Brisbane’s Highgate House.
Briana, 25, always knew she wanted to be an interior designer. From the age of 11, every new year saw her change the colour scheme of her bedroom, where with the help of her father, she would add a fresh coat of paint to her childhood walls.
But this love of creating beautiful spaces didn’t end there, rather it led Briana to do a two-year Advanced Diploma of Interior Technology at Southbank Institute of TAFE.
“I think qualifications are very important,” she says. “They give you a base knowledge and grounding for the industry. I also learnt construction and CAD courses which are very helpful when working in the real world. But you can’t teach a good eye for colour, design and proportion.”
Yet qualifications and talent alone were not what scored Briana her dream job; instead she got herself industry experience working at furniture wholesaler Boyd Blue after graduation. While it was not a designer job, it was an opening to other opportunities and upon reflection, she says this is a top tip for new graduates: “Don’t be afraid to take a side step to get your foot in the door. My time working on the wholesale side of the industry was invaluable in getting me to where I am today. It gave me a broad knowledge of fabrics, furniture and the industry.”
At Highgate House, she works under the leadership of Leigh Boswell, a designer who has been honing her craft for over two decades. “Leigh has such an incredible eye for detail and design,” says Briana. “Her ability to put together a beautiful scheme so quickly still amazes me, it comes so naturally. I feel very lucky to be working alongside her.”
With its full service design and decorating team, working at Highgate House has allowed Briana to tackle a myriad of tasks, and learn that time management is key. “A typical day can see me making fabric and furniture selections for clients, quoting and getting Leigh ready for her presentations, placing or chasing orders, liasing with clients and organising installs, including delivery and tradesman involvement.”
However, what Briana loves the most is her clients’ reactions: “Seeing a client’s face at the end of an installation, they are so happy and proud that this space we have created is actually their home, it is very rewarding.”
Briana has now been working at Highgate House for two years. In five years’ time she hopes to still be part of the company, working as a senior interior designer. Now with her dream job firmly in her hands, can she honestly say it was all she expected? Not completely. “It’s not as glamorous and easy as it may seem on all the TV shows,” says Briana. “It can be very stressful at times but the end reward — seeing what you helped create — is worth it!”
See one of Jen’s favourite Highgate House projects on the blog.