interior design student

Here are some of my favorite recommendations for interior design students including books, shops, and digital tools. 

Affiliate Disclaimer

These are my top recommendations for software, supplies, etc. that I have found helpful to interior designers and interior design students. Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I earn an affiliate commission if you decide to purchase (*indicates affiliate links). However, I recommend these tools no matter what.

interior design software

1-1 services photoshop

Adobe Creative Cloud

design software

Adobe offers a great discount for students for Creative Cloud membership. The good news is that it comes with all the CC apps. So not only can you work with Photoshop and InDesign which our my personal favorites, but you can also work with Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Lightroom, etc. Adobe is the best in the biz of these design programs for a reason. I highly recommend adding these skills to your resume. 

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AutoCAD

Computer Aided Drafting

AutoCAD has been around forever and is an excellent software to list on the resume to show your more technical skills. Making excellent and precise drawings becomes easy when using AutoCAD. Also, Autodesk is quite generous with students. You can download, install, and learn AutoCAD with free year-long licenses as long as you’re an eligible student. 

revit

Revit

BIM software

Revit always seems to be the software of choice for commercial interiors. When I was a student, I didn’t quite realize the value of using Revit. As a result, I didn’t learn it properly until I got into practice. I recommend you don’t wait. Developing your skills in modelling, drawing, rendering, etc. in Revit will be very valuable to your future. Also, Autodesk is really generous in it’s student licenses. You can get it free for a year as long as you’re an eligible student. 

1-1 services sketchup

Sketchup Pro

Digital modelling

To get the best practice, I recommend investing in Sketchup Pro. Sketchup Free won’t give you as many professional tools as the Pro version. 3D models, rendered visuals, even scaled drawings are possible in Sketchup Pro. Sketchup Pro is available to students at a substantial discount which also helps for student budgets. 

online tools for students

notion-logo-no-background

Notion

note taking and time management

I think it’s never too early for students to really get a handle on their time management skills. I know I wish I had been much  more disciplined when I was in school. While in practice you might need something more specific to interior design, as a student, I really recommend Notion. I’ve been using it personally for a few months, and how easy it is to customize and adapt to whatever you need it to be is just amazing. Students can especially benefit from it because it not only does it help you manage your time and various tasks, but it can also be a great place to take notes. Search ‘Notion for students’ on Youtube, and you’ll find loads of videos on how other students are using Notion to organise their school work.

coolors

Coolors

color palette generator

Coolors is such a helpful platform when you’re needing to just explore color. With just your space bar, you can automatically generate countless palettes, lock in colors you like, then export the palette as an image when you need to use it. You can get the CMYK or RGB colors that will make it easy to use in design software. You can also use online converters, like EasyRGB, to convert it to  brand colors like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams.

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Pomofocus

Efficiency timer

A big part of learning to manage your time is to find the techniques that actually make you work. I’m the kind of person that needs a deadline, so the Pomodoro technique is one of those things that really helps me work towards a deadline effectively. The Pomofocus online app makes it incredibly easy to give yourself 25 minute chunks of work time followed by efficient 5 or 15 minute break. If you have a few hours uninterrupted for project of course work, give yourself structure to use it effectively.

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Google

DRIVE, email, docs, spreadsheets, etc.

I’m pretty sure everyone is using Google to some degree anyway, but just to reiterate…

I really recommend Google Drive as cloud storage for your files. BACK UP YOUR FILES! Google Drive is quite generous with their free cloud storage and really reasonable for the paid plans. I know some people swear by Dropbox, but I prefer Google Drive. It’s easier to share (in my opinion) files with others, access your files from anywhere, etc. with Google Drive.  

On top of that, Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Jamboard, and Forms are all pretty great tools you can use for free.

equipment & supplies for students

Laptop

computer

This is a question I’m asked a lot if I’m talking to prospective interior design students. What kind of computer should I get? 

I have a couple of rules of thumb if a student is going to invest in a computer for design school:

  1. Get a PC. (I say that as someone who loves her iPhone) With a PC you can get more bang for your buck in terms of processing power. Also, a lot of the design software we use as interior designers works better on PC or only on a PC, i.e. Revit. I personally have used both Lenovo and HP and have been really happy.
  2. As a student, get a laptop. You’ll need to move around a lot, and laptops can give you the power you need these days. 
  3. Invest in at least 8gb of RAM, preferably 16gb or higher. You’ll probably break down in a lot less tears with a more poweful computer. Computer frustration is definitely not always your fault or the software’s fault. Sometimes it’s a weak computer. Invest a little extra in more RAM if you can, to save you time and frustration later.
  4. Get a good graphics processor. A lot of times, if you find a gaming computer (like the one in the picture by Lenovo) they’ll also have good specs for interior design software. And fortunately, you can get some gaming laptops that are fairly plain looking without the lighting typically associated with gaming computers. Graphics processors by NVIDIA or AMD will be a better bet for any digital modelling than an Intel graphics card.
  5. Check any recommended specs on software you know you’ll use or ask your school. Even if your school doesn’t have specific computer recommendations, they’ll be able to let you know the kinds of software that you’ll use as an interior design student. With that information, you can research to make sure your investing your money as wisely as possible. No one wants to realize that the most expensive item they bought for school doesn’t actually work for what they’ll be learning. 

 

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22" or larger Monitor

second monitor

This is definitely not a must, but if you’re in a position to invest a bit more into your computer set up, I highly recommend getting a second monitor. I personally work with either a 17″ laptop plus a 27″ monitor or a 22″ plus a 27″ monitor.

There are two reasons a second monitor is such a worthy investment in my mind: 

  1. Posture – Interior design students will spend a lot of time on the computer. Researching for projects, making CAD drawings, assembling portfolios, etc. As a result, it’s important to enable good posture while this work is being done. Having a second monitor set up where you’ll do most of your school work, means it can be set up at a good height and distance for your eyes. Yes, you’ll still need to use your laptop on its own in certain places, but if you can avoid having to bend over a small screen, your future back will thank you. 
  2. Time – An extra monitor can save you time. Yes, sometimes it might just be a good place to play Netflix while you work on some CAD drawings. But in the rush of a project, that second monitor can help you save time and be more productive. You might have your primary monitor set to show the program you’re currently working in. But then your second monitor will be where you have any references, files, browser for research, etc. For example, if you’re drawing a floor plan but you’re not sure how big a piece of furniture you’ve sourced is, you can have your sourcing information on one screen while AutoCAD is open on the other. Preventing that awkward back and forth on a single screen will make your life easier and lead to fewer mistakes too. 

 

*This is an affiliate link.

www.dickblick.com

Blick Art Materials

supplies

I went to a university that was in a small town. As a result, some of the things I needed weren’t always just available at the shop down the street. So I definitely ordered online at Dick Blick (I think they prefer just Blick now) a lot. You can find all the paper, pens, markers, tools you might need as an interior design student, plus they even have scale modelling supplies. I also appreciated that they knew how to ship supplies like this. Meaning things wouldn’t arrive bent or broken like they might from other more general stores.

*This is an affiliate link.

Corded Scroll-wheel Mouse

no. 1 supply recommendation

This is my number one recommendation to interior design students. It might seem silly, especially if you’ve always used a track pad on your computers and have been fine. But having a scroll-wheel mouse gives you a lot more ease and flexibility in these interior design software programs. I also highly recommend a simple corded one like this Logitech one, because no one wants to be panic-hunting for batteries the night before a deadline. They might not be fancy, but they work.

*This is an affiliate link.

Tracing Paper Roll

no. 2 supply recommendation

This is my number two recommendation to interior design students. Buy tracing paper in a roll not a pad. A pad of tracing paper will seem precious and limited. So you’ll use it too carefully without taking an open-minded approach to your design. A roll of tracing paper on the other hand will seem infinite (even though it isn’t) and have rough edges. You won’t feel as precious about it, it will last you a lot longer than a pad of paper, and you’ll be able to just focus on your design.

*This is an affiliate link.

favorite books for students

Interior Design Illustrated

francis dk ching and corky binggeli

I am a big fan of the Francis DK Ching books for their simplicity and just getting to the point. As a reference or even flipping through just to get you brain working, Interior Design Illustrated (written with Corky Binggeli) is such an incredibly helpful book. I can’t recommend it enough. 

*This is an affiliate link.

Building Constructed Illustrated

francis DK Ching

This is another Francis DK Ching book. The reason I recommend this one is because it can be helpful in just getting to grips with the construction side of the design industry. Interior designers definitely don’t have to be experts, but it’s worth building this knowledge early where you get the respect you deserve on the job site. 

*This is an affiliate link.

Spatial Strategies for Interior Design

ian higgins

I’m a planning nerd. This is a book for planning nerds and people who want to become excellent planners. It’s such a great book in how it helps you think about planning more methodically making the really tough projects easier to figure out. 

*This is an affiliate link. 

The Fundamentals of Interior Design

simon dodsworth with stephen anderson

This is an excellent, straightforward book that walks you through interior design both as a discipline and as a profession in an easy to read and digest format. It’s definitely worth it for new design students. I would recommend reading it all the way through at first, but then using it as a reference as you need it later on in your development as a designer.

*This is an affiliate link.

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