Is the move from a high-flying career in finance to a design role in your 40s too much of a stretch? Not for Londoner Sanam Zanjani, who took a leap of faith and followed her intuition by enrolling at the Inchbald School of Design.
“I didn’t think a change was possible as I assumed my skills couldn’t really be transferred and it was too late for a whole new career. That is until I attend an open day at Inchbald,” she says. Zanjani had majored in graphic design and art history a few years ago, but eventually found herself in finance and strategy consulting after attending business school.
Having a background in art certainly helped the Master of Arts in Architectural Interior Design student, who found that all of her skills and experiences were easily transferable to Inchbald. Adjusting to student life as a working adult wasn’t an easy transition at first, but thanks to Inchbald’s warm and collaborative attitude, Zanjani finds her place in a world she’s always wanted. to be a part of.
“Whenever I asked for help and advice, it was always offered to me even though the tutors are busy. They have always saved time. I got help building my portfolio, I got advice on potential internships and roles, and even on how to balance my career after school,” she notes.
Study at Britain’s pioneering design school
Nestled in London’s historic Chelsea district and close to the Pimlico Design Quarter, Inchbald’s reputation as one of Britain’s preeminent design schools has endured for more than six decades, offering specialist design education in upscale interior and garden. He pioneered the professionalisation of design practice in the UK and played a crucial role in the establishment of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID), the only professional body for interior designers in the UK .
No more than 100 students are admitted at a time, creating an intimate and collaborative atmosphere that ensures all students receive undivided attention throughout their studies. The 8:1 student-instructor ratio ensures greater teacher-student interaction for a better understanding of the design process at every level of instruction. This tutoring system encourages individual creative talent, allowing students to retain their unique vision of design and take it forward throughout their professional lives.
The opportunity to learn from experts in the field in a close-knit environment is also what drew Zoe Claymore to Inchbald. “I chose to study at Inchbald because I decided that if I had to change careers, I wanted to go to the best place possible,” says the graduate garden design student.
After a decade of working in the education sector, Claymore thought it was high time for a career change after discovering her love of gardening when she had to work from home during the pandemic. What started as a passion project turned into a call to connect with nature.
Choosing Inchbald was a no-brainer for Claymore, as the school needed no exposure as a leading professional educator in garden design. “The alumni and reputation were long-established and international, class sizes were small, and the amount of face-to-face instruction offered was far greater than other courses,” she adds.
Claymore credits his personal growth in his new calling to Inchbald’s welcoming attitude toward bold ideas. “At Inchbald, I always felt like I was treated as an individual and not part of a larger group. They don’t try to mold you a certain way, but give you freedom find a design mechanism that works for you.
Define your own design
The experiential element of design is crucial to all courses at Inchbald. It forms the cornerstone of interior design programs, where students experience the design process through different mediums. Students undertaking the BA (Hons) Architectural Interior Design will learn to approach design as a problem-solving exercise to find harmony between form, function and aesthetics. Masters of Architectural Interior Design students examine the same practical aspects of design and additionally focus on sensory understanding of space, always from their own perspective.
A similar approach is employed in garden design courses, where regular site visits go hand in hand with knowledge of spatial configuration and all aspects of landscaping. Students in the BA (Hons) Garden Design and its subsequent Masters program will delve into a sensory exploration of the garden and the psychological aspects of spatial design with plants.
Understanding design is a complex process; developing one’s own style and practice is doubly difficult. This is why Inchbald offers students the freedom to explore their own ideas, where projects are used as springboards to interrogate conventional ideas around design.
Students benefit from first-hand observations and internships during their studies, which helps them synthesize theory and practice by seeing first-hand how design concepts are applied in the professional field. Through analysis and interpretation, Inchbald students gain creative confidence in using their talents to launch their own businesses.
The numbers speak for themselves: 75% of Inchbald graduates are employed or gain internships within a year of graduation. The school also has no shortage of successful alumni, such as landscape designer Kamelia Bin Zaal, whose work includes Al Barari, the UAE’s most prominent green residential centre. The Tollgard Design Group started by Staffan and Monique Tollgard, both interior design graduates, has enjoyed spectacular success both in the UK and internationally. The school’s career advisory team is on hand to help each graduate transition into the local and international design profession.
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