Advice for American interior designers who want to work in China

1. If you would like to work in China as an interior designer, first of all, you will need to know how to use multiple computer added drafting softwares, here are the 4 programs you must be able to use, yes, ALL 4 of them: AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and 3D Studio Max, and it will be a big plus if you can operate them super fast. Revit or SketchUp? sorry, they are not popular in China.

2. You do not need to be creative. Most of design companies in China encourage copying other people’s ideas because it is faster. Project pace in China is 10 times faster than in the US, they just do not have the time for the designers to generate design concepts of their own, so copying design ideas from magazines or other projects has become the norm. Also, if you show your employer a very unique design idea, your employer will most likely to ask you show him a photo of your design ideas. You might feel strange because how you can have an actual photo of your design ideas if it has not  been built unless you copied other people’s design ideas from design magazines? That is because many employers there also do not like to take the risk to build anything that no one else has ever built before because it will take too much time to figure out how to actually build it, so if you come up with a design idea that is like a pioneer, your idea will most likely to be turned down.

3. You must be able to endure long working hours. Working overtime without overtime pay is very common in China. Because the project pace is fast, designers are constantly working overtime during the weekdays, on weekends and National holidays. Do not be surprised if you are asked to work overnight to finish a project without sleeping constantly.

4. You must be able to accept lower salary. The income level in China is not as high as in the US, so your salary there will more likely to be lower, but you definitely will feel better since the cost of living in China is also lower (except those big coastal cities such as Shanghai or Guangzhou).

5. You need to adapt the society well. Air pollution, dirty streets, crowded subway, hazardous drinking water, poisonous food, cars run over red lights, cars do not yield to pedestrians and horn constantly, people spit, liter, urination in public, jay walking, cut in the lines….etc. If you can get over these things quickly, then your life in China will definitely be much happier.