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"Never hire anyone that can't teach you anything" says head of interior design Els Van Hoorebeeck of TOG

How I got my job: Els Van Hoorebeeck leads the interior design team at The Office Group, who specialise in designing flexible work spaces. She gives advice to young interior designers looking to work in the industry for the Dezeen Jobs careers guide.

Name: Els Van Hoorebeeck
Job title: head of interior design
Company: The Office Group
Location: London

Dezeen Jobs: What made you want to pursue a career in interior design and what has kept you there?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: I have just always known I wanted to be an interior designer. Space excites me. Being an interior designer is a very rewarding job, you get to create beautiful environments that inspire people.

Dezeen Jobs: What did you study and how has this influenced your career?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: I studied interior design at Luca School of Art in Brussels. I learned a lot about how important the process is, sometimes even more important than the end result. It also taught me how to receive feedback and how to use this feedback for the better.

Dezeen Jobs: Tell us about what your role at TOG involves.

Els Van Hoorebeeck: Heading up the TOG design team, I oversee all creative aspects from site acquisition stage, to the development of interior concepts and project fulfilment, working closely with appointed external architects and designers.

Dezeen Jobs: What other companies have you worked at?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: Before TOG I worked as an in-house interior designer/space planner for Vitra in Belgium. Before Vitra I worked mainly in the residential sector.

The Office Group designed One Lyric Square, a shared workspace in Hammersmith, London
The Office Group designed One Lyric Square, a shared workspace in Hammersmith, London

Dezeen Jobs: How has your skillset as an interior designer evolved throughout your career?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: I feel that I acquired a good technical knowledge in the beginning of my career, which was a great basis to grow and adapt in the various sectors I have worked in.

At the beginning of my career I was designing myself, but now I have grown into a role where I try to bring out the best in everyone involved in the project. I make sure we end up with a product that reflects the vision of both TOG and the external architect or designer.

Dezeen Jobs: What has been your career highlight so far?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: We have recently opened Summit House together with Note Design Studio, which was their first UK project. Working with a studio with no experience in the London market or flexible workplace providers, I feel we have raised the bar for designing shared workspaces.

Also, designing Co-Chair with Norm Architects for Menu is a huge highlight for me as I have always had an obsession with chairs. I still think it is amazing that Menu gave me the opportunity to solve TOG's problem of never finding a good looking, comfortable and highly stackable chair.

Dezeen Jobs: What do you enjoy most about working at TOG?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: Every building we design is different, we strive to create a more inspiring and better environment every time, and we are doing it very intuitively which makes the whole process fun.

I also get to work with some incredibly talented people – in my team as well as the external architects and design studios we work with on our projects.

Dezeen Jobs: What is the difference between working at a smaller firm compared to a bigger company?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: What I loved about working for a bigger company like Vitra is that they have a clear structure and they put a lot of effort in training their employees.

You feel part of a bigger picture and that is very motivating!

However when I started at TOG, the company was a lot smaller than what it is now and they gave me so much freedom and responsibility so that I could thrive and grow in my role.

Dezeen Jobs: How have you motivated yourself through the different stages of your career?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: The feeling you get when you see a finished project is instant happiness and that is very addictive, which is very motivating.

The Co-Chair was designed by Els Van Hoorebeeck in collaboration with Norm Architects for Menu
The Co-Chair was designed by Els Van Hoorebeeck in collaboration with Norm Architects for Menu

Dezeen Jobs: What are the core skills TOG would look for in prospective candidates?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: If you are in a creative role, you have to be passionate about what you do. At TOG you need to be proactive, we are a fast-growing company with a very exciting future, but we go a million miles per hour.

Dezeen Jobs: What is the recruitment process like at TOG?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: When I first moved to London I used Dezeen Jobs as my go-to for my job search, so when I was looking to hire people at TOG, it seemed like the obvious route. We also publish all of TOG's vacancies on our website and we have an internal recruitment team that deals with the applications.

Dezeen Jobs: What qualities make a good team member?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: Someone with a lot of enthusiasm that can listen and can give and take constructive feedback.

Dezeen Jobs: What are the most important qualities to have as a successful interior designer?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: Interior design has to be your passion, it is a 24/7 kind of job. It is important to take in inspiration everywhere and adapt it in your job. You also need to have a strong opinion and know how to express it in the right way.

Dezeen Jobs: How have interior design roles evolved since you started working in the industry?

Els Van Hoorebeeck: Everything is about collaboration nowadays, you can not be an expert in everything, so you need to surround yourself with the right people to create the best end product for you and for the client.

Dezeen Jobs: Share the most useful piece of career advice you've received.

Els Van Hoorebeeck: Never hire anyone that can't teach you anything.

Locations: London, Bristol, Leeds
Number of employees: 200-500