When it comes to interior design, one might wonder about the educational background of the professionals who make our spaces beautiful, functional, and livable. What Have Famous Interior Designers Studied? It’s fascinating to explore the educational paths that some of the world’s most renowned interior designers have traversed. Some have formal education in interior design or a related field, while others have a natural eye for design and learned through experience. Let’s delve into the educational backgrounds of some famous interior designers.

What Have Famous Interior Designers Studied?

Kelly Wearstler


One of the most celebrated American designers, Kelly Wearstler, holds a degree in interior and graphic design from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. This formal education provided her with a solid foundation in design principles, which is evident in her bold and imaginative work.


Her unique designs caught the attention of the design world, leading to high-profile clients and recognition as a top designer.

Wearstler’s success lies in her fearless approach to design. She is not afraid to push the boundaries and experiment with different design elements. Her designs are a reflection of her bold personality and artistic vision.

Nate Berkus

famous designer Nate Berkus

Nate Berkus, known to many from his television appearances, attended Cushing Academy, a private preparatory boarding school, and later moved on to Lake Forest College in Illinois where he studied French and Sociology.

Nate Berkus' NYC kitchen with countertops and island feature Calacatta Turquoise Antico marble
 His NYC kitchen with countertops and island feature Calacatta Turquoise Antico marble. 

While this may seem unrelated to interior design, it provided him with a solid foundation in understanding people and cultures, which greatly influences his design approach. Berkus believes that a home should tell the story of the people who live in it, and his background in sociology has helped him understand and interpret these stories effectively.

Philippe Starck

famoue interior designer Philippe Starck

French designer Philippe Starck is famous for his interior, product, and architectural design. He attended the École Camondo in Paris, a private institution focusing on design and the visual arts. Starck’s extensive and diverse design work shows the influence of his formal design education.

Vicente Wolf


Vicente Wolf’s path into the design world was less traditional. He did not attend college; instead, he learned about design by working in the industry. His extensive travel and innate talent for design have informed his timeless and elegant style.

Patricia Urquiola


Spanish-born Patricia Urquiola, who is renowned for her innovative and eclectic designs, studied architecture at Madrid Polytechnic and Milan Polytechnic, where she graduated in 1989. Her architectural background strongly influences her design work, bringing a unique perspective to interiors and furnishings.

Jean-Louis Deniot


Parisian designer Jean-Louis Deniot attended the prestigious École Camondo in Paris, like Philippe Starck. His classical education influences his designs, which reflect 18th-century French aesthetics alongside modern and minimalist elements.

Peter Marino

Peter Marino

Peter Marino is one of the top architects and designers, known for his integration of art within his architectural designs. He studied architecture at the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. His training at this Ivy League school helped shape his deep understanding of space, which is evident in his luxury retail and residential designs.

Hia contribution to interior design is monumental. His work has been transformative, merging the worlds of architecture, fashion, and art with a distinctive flair. He has created spaces that are both visually stunning and functional, seamlessly integrating the client’s personality and lifestyle into his designs. From creating iconic retail spaces for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel to designing opulent homes for private clients, Marino has left his indelible mark on the design world.

Joanna Gaines


The “Fixer Upper” star from HGTV, Joanna Gaines, graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Communications. Her signature style, which blends rustic farmhouse charm with modern elements, has captured the hearts of millions and turned her into a household name. While she didn’t have formal interior design education, her natural talent, passion for design, and experience over the years have made her a household name in the world of home renovations and design.

Emily Henderson


Emily Henderson is a stylist, author, and TV host known for her accessible and fun approach to design. She began her education in art history and theater at the University of Oregon and later attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, focusing on interior design.

modern mid-century home office with black wall and leather brown office chair

Henderson’s art history studies exposed her to different art periods and styles, giving her a deep understanding of color, form, and composition. Her theater studies, on the other hand, taught her how to create a visual narrative and evoke emotions through design.

This combination of art history and theater studies has given Henderson a unique perspective on design. Her designs are not just about aesthetics; they tell a story and evoke a feeling, creating a multi-dimensional experience for the viewer.

Justina Blakeney


Justina Blakeney, known for her bohemian “jungalow” style, studied World Arts and Cultures at UCLA. In her junior year of university, she went to Italy to study fashion and communication. The experience in Italy made her move back to Italy after graduation, and enrolled in Polimoda-a fashion school. While she didn’t take a traditional interior design educational route, her global perspective has heavily influenced her vibrant and eclectic design style.

Justina Blakeney's bohemian bathroom design with zellige tiles in green and earthy taupe tones
Justina Blakeney’s new bathroom design with zellige tiles in green and earthy taupe tones

Blakeney’s success as an interior designer can be attributed to her unique design philosophy, which values authenticity, creativity, and personal expression. She encourages people to experiment with different design elements and create spaces that reflect their personality and lifestyle.

Blakeney’s design philosophy, coupled with her cultural and artistic background, has made her an influential figure in the world of interior design. Her designs are not just visually stunning; they are also meaningful and expressive, embodying the ethos of ‘jungalow’ style – a term she coined to describe her vibrant, nature-inspired interiors.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard


British-born Martyn Lawrence Bullard studied theater and performing arts. While this may seem unrelated to interior design, it played a crucial role in shaping his career.


He was born in Lewisham, London, and started his career in design as a teenager. His dad, a former actor turned businessman, used to go with him to the Greenwich Antiques Market in South London where they had a stall.

At just 13 years old, Bullard began buying and selling various items, learning to spot valuable or well-designed pieces. By 16, he had a group of prominent dealers and collectors as clients, including the main buyer for Ralph Lauren Antiques. This led to Bullard’s items being sent to the United States to be used in the window displays of Lauren’s famous stores.

Even with this success, at 17, Bullard decided to try to become an actor. He used his earnings to attend the Lee Strasberg Actors Studio in London’s Covent Garden.

Bullard’s theater studies taught him how to create a visual narrative and evoke emotions, skills that are highly relevant in interior design. His designs are not just about aesthetics; they tell a story and create an experience, making them more engaging and memorable.

Bullard’s success lies in his ability to create luxurious and personalized spaces that reflect the client’s personality and lifestyle. His designs are characterized by a blend of glamour, drama, and sophistication, reflecting his theater background.

Jonathan Adler

Potter, designer, and author, Jonathan Adler studied semiotics and art history at Brown University. He later attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he honed his skills in pottery. This art foundation greatly influences his quirky, bold, and contemporary design style.

Dora Maar Low Planter 

This education gave him a deep understanding of symbols and their meanings, a concept that is central to his design philosophy.

Adler’s designs are characterized by bold colors, quirky patterns, and playful motifs, reflecting his love for art and semiotics. His designs are not just visually appealing; they are also meaningful and thought-provoking, engaging the viewer on a deeper level.

Bobby Berk


Bobby Berk, widely recognized from Netflix’s “Queer Eye”, has a less traditional path into design. He didn’t attend a formal design school. Bobby Berk never went away to college. Instead, he gained experience by working in design and retail, climbing the ranks, and eventually launching his own brand. “I went to the school of hard knocks, and they didn’t provide dorms, unfortunately,” he says.

Axel Vervoordt


Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt is known for his timeless and serene interiors. He is the interior designer of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s houseHis design journey began with art and antiques, stemming from personal passion rather than formal training.


Vervoordt ran up against paternal skepticism: “My father would say I had to study because I could never make a business out of buying antiques. He said it was a good hobby. So I went to university and studied economics.” It didn’t take, however.

Vervoordt’s designs are deeply rooted in a philosophy that blends minimalism with a rich sense of history.


These designers, each with unique backgrounds and educations, underscore that the world of interior design is rich and varied. While formal education can provide a strong foundation, passion, experience, and an eye for beauty can be equally formative. Whether through academic institutions, hands-on experience, or a mix of both, these designers have carved their niches in the ever-evolving realm of interior design.

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