Designer Types

Within the design industry there are a number of different sectors and design job disciplines available and you will find those we specialize in listed below. We have also provided a brief guide with information on these particular areas of design. 

Interior Designers. When considering a career in Interior Design there are two main directions to consider:

  • Residential Interior Design otherwise known as Domestic Design. More emphasis is placed on fabrics and furnishings, styling and interior decorating (FF&E). Although technical skills are important particularly when handling New Build projects.
  • Commercial Interiors i.e. hotels, restaurants, offices, retail, healthcare and education.

If you are interested in domestic interior design, showhomes or boutique hotels it is not essential to have a degree, but you will need formal qualifications of some sort as trainee positions are very hard to come by. Look at Diploma level courses and make sure they include CAD – AutoCAD or Vectorworks. These can be either fulltime or home-study courses.

For commercial interior design, degree courses would be the preference in order to be able to compete for jobs and to have covered all the basics to launch you into the marketplace. There are quite a few similarly titled courses such as Interior Design and Interior Architecture.

For those unable to go to University then you can study up to HND level in Interior Design or Spatial Design at more local colleges. Alternatively RHODEC offer a degree course over a number of years by correspondence.

Key CAD packages: AutoCAD / Vectorworks, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign (otherwise known as the Adobe Creative Suite), 3D packages such as 3D Studio Max / Viz or Sketchup.


Furniture Designers. Initial experience and studies in craftsmanship and woodworking can be very useful.

Ultimately it is still best to get a degree in Furniture Design or in the combined Product and Furniture Design. Key Computer Packages: AutoCAD, Inventor, Solidworks, Photoshop and 3D Studio. This sector is often divided into furniture design for the:


  • Residential marketplace. Either bespoke directly to the private client or through Architects and Designers, domestic furniture for the retail high street marketplace, kitchens.
  • Seating (public/auditorium/office)
  • Office furniture and desking
  • Contract furniture for hotels and hospitality


Product Designers. This is a marketplace where studies are particularly important. It would be very hard to find ‘on the job’ training without it.

The degrees on offer here are in Product and Furniture Design, Product Design, Product Engineering, Industrial Design, Computer Aided Product Design and 3D Design (which can encompass all three disciplines: interiors, product and furniture design but also other more craft based disciplines like ceramics, glass and jewellery). All have slightly different slants to the subject but are all applicable to the industry.

Computer packages in particular demand are SolidWorks, Rhino, ProEngineer and Inventor but can also encompass many more modelling and rendering packages.


Exhibition Designers. You can either take an Exhibition and Museum design degree or have a background in Interior or Product Design.

This sector also requires strong skills in CAD and 3D packages like AutoCAD / Vectorworks, 3D Studio, Adobe Suite – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign. There are several types of Exhibition Design companies:


  • Modular stand design which requires technical and construction skills and tends to be easier to get into with a product design background.
  • Custom build stands which require more creativity and these companies are often also involved in events and conferences.
  • Exhibition and Museum Design which incorporates a lot more 3D Design, animation and motion graphics.


Lighting Designers. There is a larger path choice to lead you into the lighting design industry.

In the main, designers come from an interior design, architectural or product design route. There are two main types of lighting designers:


  • Lighting design working on decorative products such as luminaires, shades and light fittings either directly for a manufacturer or for a design consultancy.
  • Schematic design, i.e. the affect it has on interiors and exteriors, architecture and the environment requiring sketch details, layouts, data research and specifying the type of lighting.


Kitchen Designers. This is a large industry with companies operating for different levels of the marketplace.

There are the well-known larger DIY and retail stores at the lower to mid-levels which also deal with the housing and building market. There are national kitchen retailers who are aimed at the middle market and then at the high end there are many smaller, independent kitchen studios offering a more bespoke product and service. The latter require a strong creative and design flair and excellent hand drawing skills.

Attention to detail is very important and this industry often uses more kitchen led CAD packages that you can be taught in-house such as 20:20 Planit and Compusoft Winner. There is no chosen design discipline to have studied in particular to gain a career in this sector, just a flair for design.


Bathroom Designers. This sector is similar to that of kitchen design and is open to all design disciplines.

You will need to be a creative designer with excellent hand drawing and sketching skills. There is a much wider choice of products to specify for a bathroom designer and it can therefore be quite a varied job. CAD is not always a requirement in bathroom design.


CAD Technicians. CAD (Computer Aided Design) is used in a wide number of industries, from engineering to construction to manufacturing.

In the Design Sector each marketplace will be seeking slightly different qualifications specific to them but most of the computer packages required are either AutoCAD or Vectorworks for 2D drawings (although both also can be used for 3D). 3D studio is mainly used for visualisations; the Adobe Suite C3 (Illustration, Photoshop and InDesign) is sometimes also preferred for more advanced presentation and marketing material. Although the latter is not always the remit of a CAD Technician it can be an added bonus. Autodesk Revit is sometimes required for more detailed architectural detailing and designs.


  • There are CAD Technicians / Architectural Technicians needed in the building and architecture sector and your qualifications could be either a diploma in Building Studies or degree in Architecture.
  • There are CAD Technicians / Furniture Technicians in the Furniture Design industry for all of the technical detailing and construction drawings ready for production. Here you will need specific cabinet making or furniture production knowledge/qualifications.
  • CAD Technicians are needed in the Interior Design Sector for space planning and working drawing packages. Some are happy with just CAD expertise others will prefer some qualification in Interior Design.
  • The Product Design sector has less need for pure CAD Technicians as this part of the job will often come under Product Design as a whole.


Visualisers / Visualizers

Most areas of design will require visualisers although often their skills will be utilised on a freelance capacity as there is often not enough need for a full time role and many designers also offer this skill in addition.  Visuals are used for client presentations, for the company’s web site and for marketing materials.  There is a vast array of computer packages used dependent on how realistic the visuals need to be in terms of comparison to photos and in terms of animation.  The general ones are 3D studio, Photoshop, VRay and Cinema 4D.