Less than a year after completing her BA (Hons) Interior Design degree, Mackenzie Morrison runs her own thriving interior design business. But how did she manage to create a successful start-up in the midst of the Covid pandemic? Read Kenzie’s student success story below –
Why did you leave university to study with the NDA?
I was shocked when ‘normal’ University life didn’t suit me. I loved my education at school and at college and then to go to ‘normal’ Uni and hate every second of being there, I realised something was wrong. For me, part of this was the course as it was in something different to design… but I’ve also got an older head on my shoulders and being surrounded by ‘freshers’ was not my scene! I then found the NDA and fell in love with working at my own pace, to my own structure, to my own timetables and the flexibility this gave me. Until module 10, of the degree (about 3/4 years into my total NDA journey) I was working full time in an office job too!
What did you love most about the online BA (Hons) Interior Design degree?
The geek in me says how methodical it was and how it crescendos! Naturally, I liked some modules more than others but how the degree was structured with the different elements / areas of design and how these built up layer on layer until the last 2/3 modules where you could really put everything into practice, I really enjoyed. My favourite unit by far was module 6, which for me was Home Staging!
What do you wish you'd known before starting your degree?
I probably wish that I learnt from the beginning to ‘let go’. Not creatively, as that wasn’t a problem, but in terms of sketches. They were my biggest worry and concern (having never been great at drawing at school!) but ended up being the thing I really didn’t need to worry about, as developmental sketches are allowed to be messy! Even if it is a bunch of lines that signify your thoughts or design, don’t be afraid to jot them down – just let your hand move the pen, with all the creative thoughts coming from your mind! So I’d probably say not to panic and go with your gut, don’t overthink your ideas or how you map them in the initial stages.
I wish the NDA’s SkillsLab had been around then too!
How did your Interior Design Degree help your business?
It helped hugely! Unfortunately, my experience of the industry is that it is one that will only hire you if you have experience, but then no one is willing to give you experience – it is out there but you need a degree to stand out. This is partly why I started on my own, alongside the matter of Covid. Having run the business for 2 years now, I can confidently say that going it ‘alone’ was the best decision for me too! I do get a lot of messages on Instagram from people looking to study Interior Design with the NDA and I do say to them all, that if you want to be an Interior Designer professionally, you have to have the degree. Whether it’s because the big companies will only accept you with one, or whether you’re starting on your own, in my view it is imperative. I studied the Interior Design Diploma with the NDA too and this really does only scratch the surface of the whole topic. The degree then digs a fair bit deeper – but you can also only experience the whole package once you’re in the industry, whether for yourself or working for someone else.
How do you get most of your customers?
I do track where all my clients come from as it is really important to understand where to push your marketing. About 50% of my clients are from recommendations, with investment into Google Ads, and the power of Facebook and free advertising there, coming in joint second.
Can you share your 3 favourite projects with us?
Art Deco Lounge:
My brief for this client with their art deco lounge was to create a bold and striking space, acknowledging the 20s era. Luckily for me, this is my favourite era of design. Keeping out acknowledgments subtle so the room felt luxe rather than themed was really important. My client is overjoyed and gets so many compliments. I’m on to their new kitchen / diner space next!
My client for this garden cabin contacted me last minute. The room was a shell, and I have seen quite often that garden cabins can be left blank … but they’re spaces you can really play and have fun with! Even if you’re afraid of colour or bold choices, being separate from the rest of the house means you can go bolder – as it won’t impact any more subtly decorated rooms you have elsewhere. My brief for this project was to have a seating area with sofa bed, pool table, working area, and kitchenette. I used wooden cladding in here to help bring the outside in, alongside the bold ‘Inchyra Blue’ by Farrow & Ball to create a striking and impactful scheme.
The brief for this project was fairly free but my client wanted a disco ball, dancing pole and ‘art gallery vibes’ which I think was tackled perfectly! As the space is architecturally so impressive, it was important to keep the design minimal, to let the architecture shine and also to fit the brief of the art gallery look. We opted for bold sofas, with a statement chair and stunning cascading hoop pendant. When paired with the smaller details of the plants in wicker baskets, it works together to create a bold, yet still grounded and welcoming scheme. A recent party was held in the space and I’ve heard it was a very successful night! I also got to help with the exterior of the space with the feature 2 way cassette fireplace – it was great to consider how the inside and outside would work together!