Interior designers are architects of spaces, says UJ alumni Eitan Malkin

Mr Eitan Malkin is a University of Johannesburg (UJ) Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) alumnus who has taken everything he has learnt from the institution and applied it to his current work as an interior designer.

The 24-year-old works at a commercial design and build company where he is a junior interior designer. Eitan holds a BA Honours and chose to study at UJ because of its vibrant campus lifestyle.

“I wanted to be a part of something bigger. UJ is a great space to enjoy the campus lifestyle that I was excited about when leaving high school. On top of wanting to study a design degree, it was the only institution (in my opinion) that offered interior design and a vibrant “campus “lifestyle.”

He describes his time at UJ as memorable as he was equipped with the many tools to help take forward his career.

“I learned how to be a ‘professional person’ indulging in the various cultures and religions that you get on the campus. I gained lifelong friends and memories that will last forever.”

Choosing Interior Design over Architecture: Eitan Malkin’s story

His love for design had him initially thinking about studying towards an architecture degree but he instead chose to go with interior design after much research.

“I always enjoyed design. Every time I walked into a space whether it be a coffee shop, an office, a hotel or a home I was immediately analysing the details. I knew that there had to be a space for this in the professional fields. Interior design is not ‘decorating’, it is being an architect or psychologist of spaces and interiors. It is conceptual and creative and also technical and detailed. I knew that was the career path for me.”

For the last year and 8 months Eitan has been honing his craft in the corporate and commercial spaces.

“Design is subjective and is always moving forward (or in a circle). There is something so special about creating functional spaces for everyday people. You have the ability to make any person feel a certain way as they enter and use a space. I am still learning so much as I have entered the work world.”

A Day in the Life of a Junior Interior Designer

A day in the life of the young designer starts with him going for either a walk, run or heading to the gym. He then gets ready for his work day from 9am by checking his emails and working on his projects that include drawing models and space plans for clients.

“I sit closely with my director, who guides me through the space planning process – I learn so much from her. She has been in the industry for over 25 years. I love working on Revit and Enscape, creating 3D renders, so I will always be given the task to render for the senior designer’s clients.”

Every day in the office is different for Eitan who spends the busier days doing site surveys, meeting with other designers for projects and snagging the spaces to ensure they are in good shape.

“Other days I receive exciting briefs that allow me to start the conceptual design phase journey, looking at inspirational images and samples. When we have intense deadlines, I work at night and over the weekends as well. It is all worth it for the end result. There is truly nothing more rewarding than seeing your work come to life right in front of your eyes.”

Advice for UJ Students pursuing a career in Interior Design

Eitan’s advice to UJ students who want to one day become designers in their own right:

“If you love an expressive and creative way of life, mixed with logic, detail and technicalities… interior design is perfect for you. It comes with its challenges, but if you are determined, proud and confident in your design styles, then they can easily be overcome. The world of interior design is constantly shifting and changing. Be prepared to not be stubborn and have the open mind to always change.”

He adds: “Always listen to those above you as they have the experience and knowledge – this includes your boss (and lecturers) and remember to never compare yourself. Everyone has different styles and tastes.”

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