Designer Jeremy Grove runs Sibley Grove with his wife Kate Sibley. He tells us that interior design is not to be confused with interior decoration and why designers should keep their practical skills up-to-date...
What’s your name/age/job title?
Jeremy Grove, 31, Owner and Director of interior design studio, Sibley Grove.
Please give us an overview of your average day.
I’m usually in the studio early to get through emails and any pressing matters before the day starts properly. I manage numerous projects throughout the day, which are at various stages – concept (ideas), design development (technical), or on-site and under construction. My time’s spent answering e-mails, making presentations to clients, going on site visits, sketching or producing technical drawings.
I run Sibley Grove with my wife and co-director Kate Sibley and we both retain an active role in the design process. When running a company it’s easy to become detached from the design process because other roles – financial, legal – demand attention, but we’re both passionate designers first and foremost.
Sibley Grove design for The Garden Room restaurant
What is the most common misconception about your job?
Interior design is a profession that requires creative foresight as well as in-depth technical knowledge and understanding. Interior designers are often confused with interior decorators, an image that hasn’t been helped by home makeover shows! The selection of furniture, fabrics, curtains and paints is important but it’s only five to 10 % of what we do.
What is the hardest thing about your role?
There are many great designers with fantastic ideas, but if you want to progress you must be able to put your ideas into practice. To take an idea from a concept to conclusion involves many strands of work taking place simultaneously and being able to organise and prioritise these is key.
When did you decide what you wanted to do with your life and how did you set out to achieve it?
Being the youngest of three brothers I was naturally competitive. My brothers both excelled at art and design through school and university so I always had aspirations to try and better them! I was 12 when my oldest brother went to university and I found his work and experiences fascinating.
From 15 I worked part-time in my brother’s furniture workshop, and used this time to produce an ambitious range of furniture for my A-levels. I then went to London to study design at Goldsmiths, where I met Kate.
Sibley Grove design for Al Bustan Village Hotel
What can you do to get a head start?
Three things. First, your dream job will not come straight away. After university it took me nine months to get my first job and that was designing kitchens for housing associations. Any opportunity can become a stepping stone as many skills are transferable.
Secondly, play to your strengths. Graduates in particular have fresh ideas and great enthusiasm. Take up work placements, if you can, as they’ll often lead to employment opportunities.
Thirdly, don’t neglect practical skills. Above all employers want to know what you can do for them. Whether it’s Photoshop, InDesign, AutoCAD, 3D sketching or modeling skills.
Could you describe the creative element to your job?
Design is a creative industry, so there are many elements, but if simplified it can be split into two areas: conceptual thinking and technical thinking. Conceptual design relates to the development of interesting, innovative and relevant responses to a design brief. Technical design is about making sure the concept is technically feasible. Can it be built? Is it practical? Is it affordable? At key stages interior designers must take on the views and opinions of other specialists and consultants, assess them, challenge them and propose an appropriate solution.
Sibley Grove design for The Juice Bar
What’s the one thing you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?
You never stop learning. The nature of design is to challenge conventional ideas and develop new and exciting ones. When I left university I believed I had a very good understanding of the design industry but in my first five years I learnt an enormous amount. I found myself surrounded by talented people with years of experience who were keen to pass on their skills. Never be afraid to ask questions.
Which organisations/websites/resources do you think would be useful for people entering your industry?
For staying up to date with the design industry, I’d recommend the websites Dezeen, Coolhunter, Treehugger and Mocoloco. Magazines like Wallpaper*, Craft and Icon as also a good source of information.
I’d also recommend reading Cradle to Cradle and The Story of Stuff – two great books which have had a profound effect on how Sibley Grove operates on a daily basis.
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