21 February 2024

The interior design sector is busy and hiring managers are in pursuit of the best people in the market to help achieve their business goals. More clients are hiring, and we are actively supporting studios and practices to source top talent for their design teams.

The hiring market can be a difficult playing field to navigate, with some talent in more demand than others. We wanted to share from our data analysis the people we are finding to be the most in-demand by studios and practices in the interior design sector.

Jonty Cooke, Director of FRAME also shares advice on recruitment practices to put you ahead of your competition, including creating great job offers, your employer value proposition, succession planning, and executive search.

The top people in demand in interior design include:

  • Hospitality FF&E Designers

  • Project running Senior Interior Designers

  • Designers with Revit experience

  • Designs with Hospitality and Food & Beverage sector experience

  • Senior Appointments

Hospitality FF&E Designers

FF&E Designers, particularly mid-weight and senior, with hospitality experience, continue to dominate the interior design sector with skill shortages. As a job with little formal training available, practices have historically had to seek people internally and train them through their existing FF&E Designers. However few practices have the time or inclination to keep investing in people in this way and have turned to attraction strategies to gain the few available in the marketplace.

The issue that we are seeing is that whilst practices are attracting people, these prospective employees are also being aggressively counteroffered by their current employers. We've observed a rise in salary offerings, alongside a commitment to providing maximum flexibility in working arrangements. Employers know it will be incredibly tough to replace these people and we predict that bidding wars for the best FF&E Designers could shortly be in our sights,” says Chloe Ireland, Lead Recruitment Consultant – Interior Design at FRAME Recruitment.

With FF&E Designers coming from many different backgrounds, including furniture design, procurement and end design, one of the most important and hardest parts is for these people to develop relationships with the suppliers and understand the materials. It is no wonder employers are trying to keep their people happy and retain them.

I urge anyone who is hiring for FF&E Designers in hospitality to move quickly in the recruitment process. Be clear on what you need from the start to avoid conflicting messages that can often cause issues such as time and money wastage.

Hospitality FF&E Designers - FRAME Recruitment

Project running Senior Interior Designers

Projects need Senior Interior Designers who can hit the ground running straight away. Experience in running projects is invaluable right now.

Cooke says: “Our clients need Senior Interior Designers who can run projects from start to finish. They need them to meet directly with clients so exceptional face-to-face customer service skills are a must. Running full projects is tough and so many of our clients are seeking potential candidates who can show resilience, entrepreneurial skills, and demonstrate they can be self-sufficient. Confidence is also playing a key part in selection, you cannot fake it until you make it in this job.

The skill shortage of these people is real, and there are only a few studios and practices that we work with that don’t need them.

These project-running designers not only need technical skills, but they also need to be able to mentor and coach people who are working on the project with them. You need to have many skills to be a good project-running designer and I fear the complexity of the role might not be attractive to the masses, creating further shortages in the long run.

Project running Senior Interior Designers - FRAME Recruitment

Interior Designers with Revit experience

In our experience practices with an interior design department within an architecture practice tend to have more designers with Revit experience as the skills have been transferred internally. What we see now is pure interior design studios requiring the Revit skillset in their new Interior Designer hires as they lack the skill, experience and knowledge within their teams.

Just like we saw last year, practices are struggling to find designers who are extremely proficient in Revit. Time constraints are still a factor in adequately training people on the job as well as practices not having the resources available internally. This is widening the skill gap in this area.” says Sarah Anderson, Principal Consultant and Head of Contract at FRAME Recruitment.

Interior Designers with Revit experience - FRAME Recruitment

Interior Designers of all levels with Hospitality and Food & Beverage sector experience

As we already mentioned in the FF&E space, all levels of Interior Designers who hold thorough experience in hospitality and food & beverage experience are in demand.

We see clients in this space busy with different projects across the UK and Europe. Clients need new hires with sector experience. This is down to several factors including understanding the customer experience, knowledge of rapidly changing consumer preferences and industry trends, compliance with regulatory guidelines and safety standards, consideration of the requirements of operational efficiency in this sector and the specialised knowledge of materials and finishes,” says Anderson.

Some of the key changes in the hospitality and food & beverage sectors have been the demand for experiential dining, a focus on sustainability and wellness, and reimagining existing spaces.

It sounds cliché but Instagrammable spaces are still in demand. It isn’t just about the food but the experience too. People want to find unique and rare experiences that they might not find anywhere else. Designers are playing a key part in creating these.

Interior Designers with Hospitality and Food & Beverage Experience - FRAME Recruitment

Senior Appointments

A growing trend in the last quarter has been for Senior Appointments within Interior Design Studios.

This isn’t just about having an exceptional design experience, there is an uptick in demand for people with expert business acumen. Clients are looking for people who can take their studio to the next level. Whether it be operationally, commercially or more people-driven, these senior appointments show the drive of clients to thrive in a competitive market and deliver exceptional value to clients,” says Cooke.

Interior Design Studios need to seek new ways to innovate and differentiate themselves from competitors. Senior appointments often reflect a strategic decision to bring in experienced leaders who can drive innovation, introduce new services, and position the studio as a leader in the industry.

The new appointments we are seeing are varied and range from Associates, Head of Departments, Managing Directors, Chief Operating Officers and even Partners. Clients are turning to us to seek the expertise of head-hunters with specialist sector knowledge who can deliver these high-level searches in a discrete and personal manner.

Senior Appointments in Interior Design - FRAME Recruitment

Recruitment advice

If you are a hiring manager on the lookout for any of the most in-demand people in interior design we have mentioned here, we advise that you take a look at your recruitment processes to ensure you are set up for success against the competition.

Firstly, we advise investing time and resources into succession planning. This evades last-minute panic recruitment efforts and changes your recruitment outlook into a more strategic one. This means you are more focused on making deliberate and continued efforts to recruit, train, develop, and retain individuals with a range of competencies, who have the potential to implement your current and future goals in your studio or practice. It helps you to consider who you may need in the next month, six months, year, or 10 to 15 years ahead. You can read more advice on succession planning and how it can benefit you in our insight ‘Fail to plan, prepare to fail’.

Secondly, we would recommend creating or relooking at your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). In this candidate-led market, standing out as an employer of choice is crucial and may be one of your top priorities right now. Differentiating yourself from your competition and communicating what you can offer that no one else can is imperative. Whether you need to create an EVP from scratch or need advice on recreating one, you can gain ideas and inspiration from our insight ‘How to create your Employer Value Proposition’.

Thirdly, if you have been successful in attracting people to interview and can make a job offer, do not delay in making it. People in demand are generally interviewing for multiple roles, they are in demand after all, and they want job offers to come in quickly as well as contain comprehensive information on the full offer, not just a salary. We break down what to include in a job offer in our insight ‘How to get your job offer accepted’.

Interior Design Recruitment Advice - FRAME Recruitment

Finally, we know it can be difficult to find a partner in the pursuit of Senior Appointments who understands your sector. We’d love to have a conversation about how our Executive Search model benefits you. Only our most senior team, including board directors, manage our search work.

There are many Interior Design recruitment businesses in the market, and so too are there many generalist executive search firms, but our people and their experience in your sector are what makes us stand out. We are passionate about people, and we are passionate about helping you find the very best people for your executive roles.

Executive Search Interior Design - FRAME Recruitment

What next?

If you are looking for a new job in Interior Design, you can search for jobs and set up job alerts here:

Interior Design Jobs

If you need help with Interior Design recruitment, you can find out more here, or please get in touch:

Contact Jonty Cooke

Join the conversation with FRAME Recruitment

Follow FRAME Recruitment on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter for the very latest news, updates, exclusive insights and regular hot jobs in the architecture and interior design sectors.

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