Interior design is not a popular course of study in Nigeria. Why did you establish a private school that awards diploma in the course?
I did not attend interior design courses before I set up the school. It was much later I acquired formal education and training to become a professional interior designer.
There are lots of people practising without the requisite knowledge of interior design and that was what gave me the impetus to set up the school and train people. Someone said I was training people who will later compete with me, and I said it is better to have competitors that are competent than quacks.
Here, we do interior design holistically and also incorporated entrepreneurship as well as card. We introduced entrepreneurship and card because of the experiences I had. When I went to school, I was only taught interior design without entrepreneurship skills and when I was setting up, I had to do everything alone. So, when we were doing our curriculum development, I served as an example. We tried to address the mistakes I encountered when I set up my company and started practising. We teach our students branding; how to choose and register their businesses and even encourage them to register companies. The school also teaches students how to do company profile and social media marketing as well as quotations.
This is because by the time they graduate and set up their businesses they don’t have to hire someone to do 3D design for them. They can do it at no cost but it will take a lot of time. We teach them these skills so that they can stand on their own. Our own vision is that when our students graduate, they can start business right away and be successful. We also offer them internship if they want.
The demand for interior design is rising, especially in places like Abuja. Apart from the emergence of new buildings, are there other reasons that led to rise in demand?
Demand is actually the major factor because the real estate is really growing; you see new buildings everywhere. When you leave the city for two months and return, you will see new structures being erected. Another factor is unemployment. A lot of people are jobless and there are still others who don’t enjoy their present jobs, especially women who combine their career with the home front. So, people are now finding alternatives to those stringent working conditions. This is what is contributing to the rise of interior design.
Interior design is a craft that does not really require diploma or degree certificate; once you are familiar with what the industry requires you can go into it. Are there universities that offer first degree in interior design?
We recently learnt that the University of Lagos is starting a degree on interior design but what we want the government to do is to recognize the profession. This will enable the establishment of laws that will guide the profession just like architecture and law. The law will also empower institutions such as the FCT Department of Development Control to incorporate designers in building plans. The department can say that an interior designer has to look at the drawing to ensure that the building is safe and well ventilated. When we started, we knew that our certificates must get the recognition of regulators such as the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). And while we were applying for certification from the Board, because we were the first to do so, we encountered a lot of challenges. They said we have to have institute in the name, which eventually led to Albedo Institute of Interior Design instead of Albedo Design School. Then, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) said if you have institute in your name, you can’t be a limited liability company, you have to be limited by guarantee and when you are limited by guarantee, you are not a profit earning organization.