So You Want to Be an Interior Designer?

While I am not involved in the education sector and am not qualified to give such advice, I am often asked from learners and parents about what qualifications are needed to become an interior designer. I try to offer some advice from the point of view of an industry professional and an employer.  I always starts with a question… are you interested in becoming an Interior Decorator or an Interior Designer?  And yes there is a difference!

The African Institute of the Interior Design Professions (The IID) is the professional body representing the Interior Design industry in South Africa.  Their website has some wonderful insight and was the source of much of the information for this article.  A google search will result in an incredible amount of interior design and decorating course options, however the IID website makes it clear that you need to do further homework and choose wisely:

“For a formal education in interior architecture, design or decoration it is best to attend an accredited College or University to ensure that the learner obtains a thorough educational grounding as well as a recognized qualification ensuring the correct credentials to practice in the interior design industry. For public protection and to ensure that qualifications are valid and recognized by the Department of Education and Industry”.


An Interior Decorating course could be anything from a short course, to a full time 1 year course.

A short interior design course would focus on furnishing and what we call “the softs” such as curtaining, scatter cushions, wallpapers and general décor items.  The literature would involve spatial planning and different décor trends, as well as the recovering or refurbishment of furniture and the identification of fabrics and their different uses depending on their properties.

A more in depth 1 year course would be of a more technical nature that delves further into the functional aspects and the planning of the interior.  There is more focus on theory as well as basic draughting techniques and the understanding of drawings which would be used in construction.


An Interior Designer must possess a minimum 3 year full time Degree in Interior Design from a registered educational institute.

The Interior Design degree would focus on both domestic and commercial interior spaces, with detailed courses on the planning and design work required to create a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing environment.   Problem solving is a large part of an interior designers’ role in terms of the design, planning and implementation of a project.  The creation of technical drawings (both by hand and using AutoCAD programs) is a detailed section of the course as an interior designer is responsible for the various construction drawings that the contractor will need for construction as well as detailed joinery drawings for those bespoke furniture items that the shopfitter will manufacture.  The course should also cover 3D rendering which has become a requirement of most clients, as well as contracts and overall administration of projects.

But wait… there is also Interior Architecture!

Interior Architecture is very similar to Interior Design, yet there is an in depth study of the space within a building. As per the IID application process, in order to be registered as an interior architect the applicant must be in possession of a Masters Degree in Interior Design from a registered Educational Institute.

If you are interested in any of these professions I would suggest taking a closer look at the IID professions website for more information.  Their emphasis is on ensuring the course you choose is accredited:

“The Technikons and Universities have SAQA and DHET accreditation; however the private colleges have to apply for this. If you are in any doubt, check the status of the private provider of higher education by emailing for more info.

    • By law, every provider of higher education must be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to operate as a private higher / further education and training institution. Look for their registration certificate which should be clearly displayed.
    • All higher education programs offered by a higher education provider must be accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) for quality assurance, accountability and improvements in program quality.
    • Every qualification offered by private higher education institutions must be registered by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) on the National Qualification Framework (NQF). Currently the SAQA unit standards, upon which the qualifications for interior architecture, design and decoration are based, are still in the process of being established. Once these standards have been laid down by the Department of Education all courses will have to be re-assessed to meet the requirements”.

Good luck and all the best for 2021.

All images supplied are 3D renderings created by Jossi Design.  Visit for more information on what we do.

Related Posts

Recent Articles

Winter Dining Trends: Decorating Your Dining Table in South Africa
June 7, 2024
The Pitfalls of Hiring an Interior Designer Too Late in Your Project
May 28, 2024
Create Your Own Luxury With ‘J by Jossi’
May 13, 2024

Passionate about Design

With an eye for the finer details and a passion for creating breathtaking end results, Jossi Design is one of Durban’s most recognised and celebrated interior design agencies. Practicing in the industry for over 15 years, we’ve cultivated strong relationships with clients across the country and internationally.

Committed to style, creativity and uncompromised service, Jossi Design strives to deliver eye-catching design that carefully considers function, comfort and style. Through a keen interest in emerging and current trends, we aim to achieve the right balance of contemporary chic and timeless finishes that reflects all client personalities and individual tastes.

Founded by Jocelyn Jones in 2006, the business has evolved to encompass a broad spectrum of design projects in all sectors of interior design.