If you want to swap your career path for a life amidst fabric swatches and paint charts, these are the 8 courses you need to know about.

There comes a time in many lives when a career crossroads becomes apparent, an unignorable calling to a path of higher fulfilment. Interior design is a well-trodden route when it comes to such forks in the road, the real-world experience gained elsewhere being of active benefit for a successful career in design.

Everyone knows someone who is routinely told that they ‘should have been an interior designer’. Perhaps it is you whose scatter cushion game or tablescaping skills elicit approving sighs from your circle. But is having an attuned aesthetic eye and a gift for unearthing unusual treasures the only requirement for a successful segue into a new career as a designer?

The short answer is no. There is a common misconception that creativity is the only prerequisite for a career in design – although it is a non-negotiable prerequisite. In fact, you’ll also need to be adept at managing many moving parts as a scheme gets under way. You’ll need to meet and manage client expectations. You’ll need not to be shy about self-promotion. And being good at balancing the books is absolutely vital if you do not want costs to spiral out of control – and for avoiding being left out of pocket after delivering a project.

But for those who are serious about making a stellar career in interior design, there are courses that can teach all the fundamentals, from the history of interior design to formalising your aesthetic instincts into a coherent style to the business side of matters. Even if you later throw caution to every design rule you’re taught, it is important to know them in order to consciously flout the rule book.

Here are the courses we rate.

The Inchbald School of Design

Founded in 1960, the Inchbald School of Design, just off Sloane Square, has trained some of the best interior and garden designers this country has produced, its founding philosophy to regard the dual disciplines as serious career options. You can choose from the Inchbald Certificate Interior Design And Decoration (full-time over ten weeks or part-time over an academic year); Design Your Own Living Space, a part-time 13-week online course; or an MA in Architectural Interior Design, which is full-time over one year and a trimester. Henrietta Spencer Churchill and Steffan and Monique Tollgard are amongst its well-known alumni. Fees start at £,1,260 for the Design Your Own Living Space course. Find out more here.

Chelsea College of Arts

Under the umbrella of the University of the Arts London, Chelsea is consistently rated one of the best places in the world for the study of interior design. This is not a course for those wishing to dabble; it is a serious three-year undertaking, whose raison d’etre is ‘to define user experiences and interactions with objects and spaces through contemporary scenarios.’ Students get a chance to work with organisations, practices and key individuals from the design industry on a range of live projects. The fees are £9,250 per year for UK nationals and £23,610 per year for international students. Find out more here.

The Interior Design School

‘Whether you want to pursue a career in interior design, or simply wish to redesign a room in your own home, the guiding principles remain the same.’ Taking that as its guiding ethos, The Interior Design School, founded in 1991 by Iris Dunbar, runs a studio-based course for those who want to learn through creative practice. Staff to student ratios are high, while the onus is on adhering to principles in line with contemporary tastes and style. There are various courses, the heaviest weight being the Professional Diploma which takes ten months and costs £29,400. But if you’d rather dip a toe in the water first, you can also opt for the Design Certificate, which you can take module by module, the first one of which costs £750. Find out more here.

The Royal College of Art

The Royal College in Kensington is solely for postgraduates, and its MA in Interior Design is no different; you will, then, need an arts-based degree to apply. But if you have one, this is the ultimate place for thought-provoking tutorials and practical work. After all, it is the alma mater of Ed Barber & Jay Osgerby, Sir James Dyson and David Connor. They say, ‘The MA Interior Design programme values speculation, analysis and rigour with regards to the thinking and making of all aspects of the design of interior environments. It challenges its you to formulate your own rigorous and critically independent responses to these fundamental concerns. This is often undertaken via the reworking of existing structures, the creation of temporal installations and the formation of permanent interventions. All of these practices involve the construction and communication of particular spatial identities using space, objects and materials.’ The fees are £13,500 a year for UK nationals and £32,000 for overseas students. Find out more here.


‘Design isn’t just a way of making and doing; it’s a way of understanding and engaging with the world.’ That’s according to the good folk who run Goldsmiths’ three-year BA in Design – and they should know; their alumni have gone on to work for the likes of Dyson, Burberry and LEGO. This is a course for those with a more general interest in design to explore the parameters of the discipline. ‘The BA Design degree enables you to think imaginatively about the possibilities of design. Not just what design is; but what it might be. You’ll discover how design affects the environment as a whole, as you investigate its role within society and culture. You’ll learn to see design as a complex combination of systems and actions, and not just as a set of distinct practical skills.’ For UK nationals, it costs £9,250 per year, and for international students, that rises to £22,020. Find out more here.

Glasgow School of Art

The excellent Glasgow School of Art offers a range of courses in interior design, including a BA. They say of it, ‘Interior Design at The Glasgow School of Art is a vibrant Studio Community. A place where creative imaginations promote a deeper understanding of the potential and actual value of the spaces we inhabit.’ It has particular strengths in retail, healthcare, leisure and workplace design and strong links to industry, with alumni employed in major practices all over the world. Find out more here.

Rita Konig’s Ultimate Guide To Interior Design

Through the GWG Award-winning Create Academy, the great Rita Konig imparts her design know-how via five hours’ worth of fifteen-minute tutorials. One for interested hobbyists rather than pros, it is nonetheless a brilliant and affordable starting point at just £127. Find out more here.

The British College Of Interior Design

This course is one for those who are serious about becoming interior designers (as opposed to picking up skills for personal decorative schemes). And yet it does not involve splashing out thousands. In fact, it will set you back just £460, and for that you get 12 in-depth tutorials delivered over 12 to 24 weeks. They say, ‘'You will be working directly with an industry professional, currently working in the interior design industry with a proven record of success. They will teach you all you need to know to start building your interior design career'. Find out more here.

By Nancy Alsop
August 2022

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.