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Friday Feature: Angie

Sep 10, 2010

Who are you and what do you do?
Angie Tomisser, Interior Designer

What made you decide to go into your field?
Looking back, I see that I had a love for interiors from a young age. I would scavenge the house for odds and ends to use as furnishings for my Barbie house. I would deconstruct toothpaste boxes and reconstruct them back into a sofa. Pizza box stands became end tables. I spent more time working on my Barbie environment than I did playing with the dolls.

As I got older I struggled with the decision of what to do with my life, attending college with no real direction. I originally planned on majoring in business, then switched to radiology. Both of which I believed would bring me great riches, but I soon came to realize that neither were a good fit.

Many of my Satruday mornings were spent at a book store surrounded by design books. Though I greatly enjoyed my weekend ritual, interior design never seemed to be a realistic option…surely not one you would study in school.

At that time, I was still seeing advertisements on television where Sally Struthers would pedal her “as-seen on tv interior design certificate” which made the profession seem like a joke, not to be taken seriously. Lucky for me, my husband had been looking into architecture schools and come across some very professional interior design programs. He suggested that we look into it, and we did…here I am.

What did your family think of your chosen field?
As with most people, interior design is thought to be decorating. My grandmother was very excited that I would be able to help her select new curtains for her bathroom!

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?
My third year studio instructor made the greatest impact on me. Our first assignment was to take a famous person and design a restaurant based on their personality. I was given the famous product designer Karim Rashid. It was in this studio that I first began to think about space a three dimensional object and not just a room with four walls. My instructor was severe…but forced us to push boundaries that we hadn’t know existed.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)
My mother passed away from cancer the year before I started design school. It required that I drop in and out of school for two semesters, ending in a permanent withdraw. Design school was just the fresh start that I needed.

What inspires you? 
Many things…art, food, people. Magazines, history, music.

What schooling is required for success in your career? 
Currently anyone can call themselves an interior designer, with or without schooling. In my opinion, as interior design can have a significant impact on the built environment, it is imperative to have at least a bachelors degree, followed by on the job training, and certification.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field?
Are there any specific attributes? Still finding that out…will let you know.

What is the best advice you were ever given?
Critical path…don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture, work with what is in front of you first.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?) 
I think the profession of interior design has come along way, but has an even longer way to go. There is a strong movement within the design community that wants to elevate the professional requirements needed to call yourself an interior designer. Things like educational requirements, experience, and testing. None of which is currently required but highly needed.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours? 
I would suggest that someone interested in this field intern at a few design firms before starting school – to see if they really like it. Design school was rough – you want to make sure you love this field before you take that path.