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GUEST WRITER: Danina Stefanova - Interior Designer and how to find your way in the design industry.

My name is Danina Stefanova, I am 29 years old and I live in Stockholm, Sweden. Things that bring me joy and inspiration are traveling and visiting new places. As a teenager, I used to compete in snowboardcross and so I also love being out in the mountains, usually snowboarding in the winter and hiking in the summer. Since I’ve moved to Stockholm I’ve developed an interest in sailing too! My topic for this guest writing is How to become an Interior Designer and find your way in the design industry. This is my story. I hope you enjoy this.

As the daughter of two interior designers, I naturally developed an interest in the field of design and architecture at a very young age. After finishing high school, I moved from my hometown Sofia, Bulgaria to London, England to study Interior Design at Kingston University. It was at Kingston that I was truly exposed to the different fields of the vast world of interior design. My course was very much tailored to creating spaces for commercial use and it was during my studies when I developed an interest in designing shops for fashion brands.

While at Kingston, with the help and recommendation of my tutors, I landed my first summer internship at a London-based design studio. During this internship, I had a taste of what it would be like to work on real-life projects and be a part of a professional design team. After this experience, I couldn’t wait to graduate and start working. On that note, I think it is really important to ask your teachers and course leaders to help you get work experience during your studies. Having worked for a design company really helps your CV stand out among the many recently graduated designers applying for jobs.

After graduating from Kingston, I was lucky to find employment pretty quickly and started working for a small retail design studio in London shortly after finishing university. I was at my first job for a little over a year after which I applied and was hired to work as a retail designer for luxury fashion brand Burberry. It was my experience in retail design from my previous job that really helped me land the job at Burberry.

Working for a brand with such a huge global presence enabled me to work on projects in various locations worldwide. This was an invaluable experience as it taught me how to manage multiple projects at a time in different time zones, while also giving me the opportunity to travel abroad for work.

The time I spent living and working in London I describe as the most exciting and formative years of my life. However, after 10 years in the English capital, my boyfriend and I were ready for our next adventure. And so, we decided to move to Sweden, where my boyfriend is from, so we would be closer to nature and could practice our favorite hobbies like snowboarding and sailing. After moving to Stockholm, I started working for H&M and gained experience working for a Swedish company too.

So here I am today in Stockholm, Sweden, a couple of weeks away from turning 30, reflecting on my experiences so far, and setting my goals for the future. On that note, my dream would be to have my own interior design studio which focuses on creating interiors that enhance wellbeing and promote happiness whether it’s designing a building for healthcare, renovating a countryside home, or designing a yoga and wellness studio.

If there’s any further advice I can dispense from my own experience to anyone who wants to pursue a career in interior design, is to first not be afraid to seek the guidance and mentorship of teachers, colleagues, managers, and anyone else you look up to in the industry. Second, try to not let yourself get bored and always challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and work on projects, which enable you to grow as a designer and nourish your creativity. And third, start building a network of friends and contacts in the industry as early as your studies. As life has shown me, you never know when and where you might cross paths again in the future.

In the spirit of the guest editor tradition, I’m ending this piece with a quote. The one I have chosen is by the author Elizabeth Gilbert, which goes: “You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”

If you want to find out more about me, you find me on Instagram at @danina_st or you can also get in touch with me through danina.stefanova@gmail.com. I hope you enjoyed this and I wish you a great summer!

All the best,