In partnership withNew York School of Interior Design

2 Interior Designers Share the Classes They Loved as Students — and Still Use Today

published May 20, 2022
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Credit: Sylvie Li

Professionally decorated homes have that extra something-something that many of us would love to add to our homes. But even figuring out what that is can seem like a task for an expert. Is it the custom built trim? Those extra lights? Or maybe just making the right color choices? Whatever it is, it would sure be nice to have.

To stop the guessing, we asked two professional interior designers to share the kind of high-level insights you might only get at design school — but can easily apply to styling your own home. All the designers are alumni of the New York School of Interior Design, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as shorter certificate programs and one-time classes if you just want to expand your knowledge or test the professional design waters for yourself.

Learn from the pros how they use their education from NYSID to create that special something-something in any space.

Rikki Tenenbaum
(Interior Designer at Gabellini Sheppard Associates)

Today, one of Rikki’s most often repeated design questions — what do you want people to feel when they enter a space? — came from a NYSID class.

In the class 286 Contract Design I, she was challenged to conceptualize a retail store and a co-working office space. “It gave me a different way to think about projects than I was previously doing,” Rikki says. “To be more contextual, to think of something as a branded space, or to consider the experience of being in a space.”

Remembering to think of an area as being part of a whole, rather than a standalone element, became a major takeaway for Rikki. And she uses it regularly to help make sure a space succeeds in making you feel the way you want it to.

When designing any kind of space — whether it’s a bedroom, an entryway, or even a commercial business — Rikki says you should keep that question top of mind: “When visitors come into your space, what do you want them to feel?” Everything from the colors of the walls, to the textiles and statement pieces should work together to create an ambiance that your guests notice the moment they step inside.

Rachel Edelstein
(Interior Designer at Beyer Blinder Belle, Founder of BRICK x BRICK Studio)

For Rachel, her studio classes at NYSID (which included Residential Design I & II) reinforced the value of prep work. And if you’ve ever struggled to make a cute vintage find look as great in your living room as it did in your imagination, you’ll be happy to hear that prep work can be your friend too.

Whenever a professor asked Rachel to design something, they always insisted she have a strong concept before putting pen to paper. “This sometimes seemed like an abstract thing,” Rachel says. “Do I really have to have a ‘concept’ driving the design for this kitchen in a single-family-home? The answer is, of course, yes!”

Credit: Minette Hand

Having a strong concept can help anyone create a space they love to spend time in. When designing a room, start with elements like a thesis statement — what purpose do I want this room to serve? — and a mood board — complete with colors, fabrics, and materials — and refer to both throughout your project. “Design is so much more meaningful when there’s a strong story, idea, or concept behind it,” Rachel says.

Ready to continue expanding your design skills? NYSID lets you focus on what speaks to you most, whether that’s working on your outdoor space with landscape design, appreciating your surroundings with architectural photography, or exploring your creativity with watercolor rendering techniques and mixed media rendering.