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35 Years of NDA Student Success Stories

In the 35 years since the National Design Academy first introduced an in-studio interior design course we’ve seen thousands of students flourish. With an alumnus of over 35,000 students and 18, soon to be 20, design courses to choose from, the NDA has become a pioneer of online design education. We’d love to name all of our students and graduates, but our server would crash so here are some of our favourite Student Success stories.

Alexis Nicolaidis – BA (Hons) Heritage Interior Design

Ten years ago, Alexis Nicolaidis started her Heritage Interior Design foundation degree with the NDA. Having always had a love of period properties, Alex turned to the National Design Academy to learn more about her passion whilst she was still working for an international energy company. Following on from her FdA, Alexis then completed the BA (Hons) Heritage Interior Design Top-Up Degree with First Class Honours and was awarded the NDA’s Student of the Year Award. A decade later, Alexis now runs her own heritage design consultancy, VA Heritage, and works with clients across the UK. You can visit her brilliant website here.

Zoe Perks – Professional Diploma in Interior Design

The moment Zoe Perks completed her Diploma she already knew she’d found her calling. She started by setting up her own interior design consultancy – Beautiful Rooms by Zoe, and only 18 months later won the Best Interior Room Set at Grand Designs Live. Four years on, Zoe has now rebranded as No 54 Interiors and along with her husband has turned her tabletop business into a thriving practice offering interior design and bespoke cabinetry services.

Visit Zoe’s beautiful website here.

Jane Crawford – Professional Curtain Making & Soft Furnishings

Jane Crawford started the same way as so many NDA students – designing her own bedroom when she was 10! Into adulthood she never lost her love for transforming spaces and ten years ago decided to study the NDA’s Professional Diploma in Curtain Making & Soft Furnishings. Jane has been running her own successful business ever since and makes curtains and blinds and offers interior styling services to clients across the UK. Jane’s work is beautifully presented, and her stunning interior images can be seen over on her Instagram account.

Desertgrass – Professional Garden Design Diploma

Ilona must be one of the busiest people in Dubai. Since completing her Diploma in Professional Garden Design with the NDA her feet haven’t touched the ground. Her business, Desertgrass, specialises in creating stunning outside spaces for warmer climates. Keen to support local biodiversity, her designs are developed with sustainability in mind and utilise desert adapted plant species, integrated with sustainable materials to create gardens which thrive even in the toughest of conditions. Head over to her Instagram feed to view her amazing projects.

Martin Nealon - BA (Hons) Outdoor Living

Martin was already an award-winning designer before he chose to study with the NDA. Having already completed his BA (Hons) Interior Design, he’d been working in industry for a while before he decided to take his career down a more specialised route. Martin recently completed the BA (Hons) Outdoor Living Top Up Degree. His work on this course was described by the tutor as the “best I’ve ever seen” and Martin’s expertise led the NDA to ask him to join the tutor team earlier this year. Martin now teaches the NDA’s Interior Design Diploma part-time and will be leading the NDA’s new short Garden Design course early in 2023.

A specialist in 3D visualisation, the best place to view Martin’s work is over on You Tube or on our recent Tutor Spotlight.

Jessica Crane – BA (Hons) Interior Design

Jess Crane completed her BA (Hons) Interior Design intending on making a steady transition away from her day job. Within months of offering her services out on social media platforms she was inundated with work. 18 months on she now operates a thriving interior design practice out of a stunning studio high in the hills of Derbyshire. Jessica May Design is now a team of 11 and they are currently working on a number of high end projects for clients in London and across the UK.

We recently visited Jess in her studio. Keep your eyes peeled for her Student Spotlight later this week. For now, head over to her great new website.

Baz Grainger – Professional Garden Design

Baz Grainger had already forged a successful career in the fashion industry when he decided to follow his passion and study garden design. After visiting the RHA Hampton Court Show, Baz finally decided to take the plunge and enrolled on the NDA’s Professional Garden Design Diploma. Four years on and Baz has now won his own RHS award, not once, but twice! Baz now runs his own garden and landscape design business, the Landscape Tailor where he specialises in creating spaces which juxtapose the natural and the man-made. You can read Baz’s full story here.

Tell Us Your Story...

There are so many student stories which we would love to share. Over three and a half decades and over 35,000 students later, we want to tell your story! If you studied with the NDA at any stage, please get in touch and let us know what you are doing.

We’ll be adding more NDA Student Success stories in the coming months. You can get these updates direct to your inbox by signing up for our Newsletter.

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