What Level is Your Design Business?

Victoria Sanchez: New Ideas on How We Educate Interior Designers

Episode 511 of A Well-Designed Business®

Welcome to this episode of Power Talk Friday! Join LuAnn and her guest, Victoria Sanchez, in this thought-provoking conversation about changing things up in the way we educate interior designers. Her concern is if we don’t start to make changes in the design curriculum, then we, as an industry, are at risk.

At one time, Victoria served as in interior design professor at Marymount University and this is where the conversation begins today. As LuAnn will tell you, this is a totally new idea to her and many of us, and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know! Just wait until you hear what Victoria proposes!

Victoria Sanchez, one of America’s premier design professionals, has been creating one-of-a-kind interiors for hundreds of prominent clients over the past three decades.

Dubbed a home décor “style maker” by Luxe magazine, Victoria is an award-winning designer who offers services ranging from project management and space planning to kitchen and bath design and furniture selection. She and her team are backed by the region’s leading contractors, painters, architects, kitchen and bath pros, flooring specialists, audio-visual experts, and other professionals.

Victoria, whose work has appeared in publications nationwide, is known for her extraordinary customer service, fee integrity and ability to help clients get the highest return on their design investment. She has designed multiple homes for the same clients and has worked with companies to design the interiors of apartment buildings, boutique hotels, and law offices.

Victoria spent the majority of her career in Alexandria, Virginia, providing design services to Fortune 500 executives, lobbyists, military generals, doctors, lawyers, investment specialists and other professionals throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and along the east coast. While there, she also ran her ‘Victoria at Home’ shop, the area’s leading source of elegant home furnishings and accessories. Her collection of the finest upholstery, furniture, art, lighting, and pillows was carefully and proudly curated from an international network of vendors and suppliers.

Now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Victoria is keeping busy in ways she had never imagined. From charitable design work to the restoration of heritage buildings, the depth and breadth of her work have expanded while her style becomes more and more influenced by the new colors and nature that surround her. She continues to travel back to the East Coast on a regular basis, taking on projects across the country.

Victoria also speaks at design industry events across the United States. She is currently active in the American Society of Interior Designers and holds Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees in Interior Design from Marymount University. She also previously served as an interior design professor and was a board member of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association.

Show Highlights:

  • The internet and all the design centers being opened to retail now both present concern to interior designers, because consumers now have the same access as designers.
  • A bigger cause for concern is that we are not producing business-minded interior designers when they graduate from their programs.
  • The top ten schools in the country have the same curriculum due to certification requirements.
  • Victoria explains that colleges are trying to pack far too much information into a 4-year program.
  • Students must learn residential design, commercial design, sustainability, and technical presentation skills, in addition to the general education classes.
  • The solution offered by Victoria is to take the programs, pull them apart, and offer three separate interior design programs: residential, commercial, and technical presentation.
  • This would allow schools to offer more courses, such as business law, accounting, marketing, and professional practices.
  • We are moving forward in our profession when we can offer a student the opportunity to be a designer with a business brain.
  • Interior design is very tactile; therefore, a designer misses the basics when rushing through courses and doing work digitally.
  • It’s not that industry leaders are apathetic to change, but they are tasked with the traditional models of teaching the student all of the aspects of interior design.
  • Changing the curriculum to product business-minded interior designers represents a challenge to CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation).
  • LuAnn and Victoria discuss ideas for implementation.
  • LuAnn points out that those running the most successful interior design firms come with experience or training in running a business. It’s a business first, and a design firm second.
  • The younger generation of designers understand that they need business skills, and are currently turning to podcasts to learn what schools aren’t teaching them.


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Mentioned Episodes:

Dr. Ellen Fisher Ep #71

Ashlina Kaposta Ep #109


What Level is Your Design Business?