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Exhibition designer: Entry requirements

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Exhibition design is open to all graduates, but a degree in one of the following areas is particularly useful:

  • architecture;
  • fine art;
  • graphic design;
  • interior and spatial design;
  • interior design;
  • multimedia;
  • theatre design.

Certain degrees, such as spatial and interior design, include a significant element of exhibition design within individual modules. It is important to research the structure of degrees to know how much exhibition design will be included. Some universities run undergraduate degree courses specifically in design for exhibition and museums.

A postgraduate qualification is not essential but some exhibition designers particularly in museum and heritage work have one. Relevant Masters include interior and spatial design and museum and heritage exhibition design, find a postgraduate course in exhibition design.

Relevant courses focus on areas such as communication through spaces, involving 2D, 3D and time-based design in many combinations, as well as hands-on production of models and artwork, and training in specific computer design programs. These courses help to prepare for work in the growing number of multi-disciplinary design consultancies, working in interior design and architectural modelling and visualisation.

Some courses offer placement and live project opportunities, which are a good way to build contacts and develop your design portfolio. University or college design departments, schools and faculties typically have strong links with the design industry and it is a good idea to take advantage of these networking opportunities during your course.

You can become a student or graduate member of the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) , which offers professional recognition and training/networking opportunities. D&AD  runs a graduate academy scheme which includes talks, workshops, briefs, and live challenges to help prepare you for industry.

Entry into this career without a degree is possible, but attitudes vary between employers. Some may favour a mix of the right skills and personality rather than academic qualifications. Others, however, may ask for specific degree qualifications and grades. Check with individual employers before applying.

Irrespective of the views of employers on qualifications and training, it is essential to have a design portfolio and desirable to have some relevant work experience.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

  • good design, drawing and artistic skills, including the ability to do perspective sketches;
  • creative, imaginative and lateral thinking;
  • good communication skills for dealing and liaising with colleagues and clients through presentations, written bids and reports, and also through their designs;
  • outgoing and positive personality;
  • excellent organisational skills;
  • the ability to work well as part of a team to achieve a good design solution, sometimes accepting that your own ideas will not be adopted by the whole team;
  • reasonable understanding of relevant design technologies and printing processes;
  • good commercial understanding;
  • ability to accept criticism of your ideas and designs;
  • ability to work with other specialists and awareness of other people's particular knowledge;
  • ability to use computer-based design programs, such as Quark Xpress, In Design and FreeHand;
  • ability to work well under pressure and sometimes to tight deadlines.

Make speculative applications by calling employers, sending them your CV or even going in person to meet with them.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.

Written by AGCAS editors
August 2013

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