17th November 2023 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID ShareTweetPinterestLinkedIn Claire Totman, Director at Claire Totman Designs Ltd has given her insights into the industry. Why did you want to work in the interior design profession? Interior design and architecture have been my passion for as long as I can remember. My mum said I was born drawing! From a young age design was a huge passion of mine, my only passion. I was always very creative rather than academic and my mum and I would spend our weekends visiting local show homes, furniture shops and trade shows. I collected hundreds of interiors magazines and I had a beautiful wooden dolls house that I spent hours re-arranging and re-decorating the little rooms. All my pocket money was spent on my dolls house. It was my pride and joy. When I finished school, I knew I wanted to study Interior Architecture at university, which I did at Oxford Brookes. My professional career started in 2009 and I worked my way up the ladder working for various design firms in London before starting up my own practice in 2016. Claire Totman Designs Ltd Claire Totman Designs Ltd Which elements of your profession do you enjoy the most? The aspect I enjoy the most of my profession is seeing our projects complete and how happy our clients are. Each project is years in the making, at least two by time we get to project handover. There is a huge amount of work that goes into every single project. The architectural side, the interior design side and the project coordination side. The late nights, the endless emails, it’s all worth it when you see the finished article. Knowing we have created a beautiful home for our clients to enjoy and create memories in is a wonderful feeling. It’s an honour to work with our clients on such an intimate part of their life, their home. Claire Totman Designs Ltd Claire Totman Designs Ltd What has been your most memorable career highlight from the past year? The most memorable career highlight from the past year has been appearing in four very well known interiors magazines and being nominated for three international design and architecture awards. What are your favourite types of projects to work on and why? My favourite type of project to work on are period properties. You just cannot beat those high ceilings and original features. I live in an Edwardian property myself and I just love the character and scale period properties offer. So many have had their original features removed over the years so it’s very exciting to bring a property back to its former glory, yet fit for 21st century living. Claire Totman Designs Ltd Claire Totman Designs Ltd What are the most challenging aspects of working in interior design? I would say the most challenging aspects of working in this industry is dealing with difficult trades and delays from suppliers as this can have such a knock on effect on the whole project programme. Claire Totman Designs Ltd Claire Totman Designs Ltd What do you wish you knew before working in the field? I wouldn’t say there’s anything I wish I knew before working in this field as this has always been my goal and there is no other industry I’ve wanted to be in since a child but if I had to say something I’d say the sheer amount of admin. A lot of people think interior design is a very glamorous job, but 80% of it is sitting at your computer designing and managing the sheer amount of admin per project. Claire Totman Designs Ltd Claire Totman Designs Ltd If you could give one tip to aspiring designers, what would it be? My number one tip to an aspiring designer is go for it. Work hard, work late, work for free if you have to, to get a foot in the door and start building your portfolio. It’s a very competitive industry and you need to stand out from your competition. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Hard work will always pay off if your mind is set on achieving your goal. How do you see the interior design industry evolving in the year ahead? I have seen a huge shift in online design. This is E-design and remote services. I would say most established design practices now offer this as an option. It means you can work with clients that a more further a-field and allows clients to work with a designer that they couldn’t necessarily afford if an e-design wasn’t an option. Claire Totman Designs Ltd Claire Totman Designs Ltd What does being an SBID Accredited Interior Designer mean to you? Being an SBID accredited Interior Designer is a huge honour. It gives our clients, both existing and future, the reassurance that they are working with an accredited designer that is part of the UK’s leading industry bodies. It also means we are always up to date with current industry standards and innovations as well as the huge amount of training that we undertake to keep our membership. About Claire Totman Designs Ltd Established in 2016, Claire Totman Designs is an award winning Architecture and Interior Design studio specialising in high-end design for private residential clients ranging from design focussed extensions, major renovations and new build homes. Claire Totman Designs offers a range of different services from architectural design and planning permissions to interior fit out and project coordination. Visit Profile If you’d like to feature your news or stories on SBID.org, get in touch to find out more. If you’d like to become SBID Accredited, click here for more information.