My name is Lakshmi Raghunath and I graduated from UNSW in 2014 from Interior Architecture.
From a young age, I had always been interested in Design and the Fine Arts. Growing up in a family that is very creative and watching my architect cousins draw plans and sections, I found myself naturally drawn to Architecture and Interior design. Thus, at only 14, I had already set a goal to become an Interior Designer! Now out of university for only a year and looking back at what was, words cannot express what an incredible ride this degree has taken me on both during and now post uni, with many new, exciting twists and turns.
The Bachelor of Interior Architecture programme is a tough course, anyone that has completed it or is currently studying it can easily tell you that. I clearly remember my first lecture with Russell where he told us that when you finish this course you would look at buildings with x-ray vision and observe every single detail and it would become second nature. Never did I think this would actually happen, yet it’s become nearly an obsession. Through the four years, your life turns into a world full of uhu glue, modelling material, endless amounts of coffee, perfecting naps and all round crazy chaos, natural ups and downs. Nevertheless, I love the degree; all the hours were well worth it in the end.
After finishing my course in 2013, I first took some time to travel around India and Singapore, which I found was a great way to rejuvenate before the “dreaded job search.” The trip also doubled as a fantastic way to learn more about international design, which further fuelled my passion to begin my career. Quite soon after I returned, I fortunately found a position opening at Houzz, a company and website that I was already a massive fan of. However, I was a bit unsure and nervous as the role wasn’t actually to work as an Interior Designer, although it would utilise a lot of the skills I developed. Throughout my studies I had countlessly used Houzz as a place for inspiration, so I thought I might as well give it a shot and apply for the job at their new Sydney office. After landing an interview at Houzz (5 in fact) and then the position, I have had no regrets on the unexpected course and journey this has taken me on.
Working for Houzz has been a dream come true, never did I think my career would change into something so heavily tech and online based. Houzz is the world’s largest online home design and renovation community, with over 5 millions photos, 25 millions users around the world and already over a million regular users here in Australia. The company is headquartered in Palo Alto, California and now has many offices worldwide, although our Sydney office was one of their first internationally. The work is very different compared to working for a design firm, as Houzz is literally where design meets the Internet. Everyday I get to browse through thousands of beautiful interior photos, view exquisite products, meet professionals from the industry and even see a trend before it becomes one. Houzz has also given me the opportunity to design our Houzz Australia office with another colleague. This being my first project out of university it has been a great thrill seeing it come to life and I continue to work on side interior design projects, while not in the office. The Interior Architecture degree did not just give me the skills and foundation in design but has also given me the skills to work in a start up, it has helped me embrace and adapt to change, help me think on my feet and work the best with what you have been given. It’s been that perfect balance of using what I studied, but also being able to continue to learn new skills on the cutting edge of the technology and tools for our industry.
My final words for anyone reading this would be; never be afraid to take a risk or an opportunity. When I finished this degree I thought I would be working for a firm straightaway and designing. But to be very honest with you, taking the opportunity at Houzz and understanding the business side of design is the best move I could have made. Try something different, have fun and take a risk, even with your designs, as they may open up new doors and opportunities that you would not expect or even foresee. If you are about to start this course, don’t give up however hard it gets and savour every moment! Oh and always have uhu on hand. I will leave this with a quote: “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail” – Edwin Land.
Photographs: Sushii Photo