Berzin's Interior design school of life

In design | נכתב על ידי יעל רגב | Jerusalem Post

Want to become an interior design artist? Turn the page, Barbara Berzin interior design academy teaches her student how to become successful in the real world

Barbara Berzin is what you call a character. She is charismatic, enchanting, witty, smart and more than anything- opinionated. Spending an hour an a half with her feels like spending a day with any other human being, and I mean it in the most positive manner there is – she is a one woman show, the kind of you never want to stop watching. Berzin is a highly renowned interior designer and an architect who specializes in designing spaces aimed for living. She has worked on more than 1000 projects so far, many of which have been published in various design magazines. Berzin believe in tailoring the design to the specific needs of every client, and she puts much thought in to the manner in which the design could combine functionality and esthetics. Berzin is also a respected lecturer and writer in her field and even served as a judge and a mentor in the television shot "The Block".

Her boutique sized, adorably crafted interior design, which is located in the center of Tel Aviv has been alive and thriving for over 15 years now and has released some of the most inspiring and busy interior designers who are currently work in the business. The academy was launched in the year 1998 by Berzin and her then partner Rakefet Shoham with the thought that there must be an interior design academy which works in the method in which Brezin believes in the most- the master and the apprentice.

"I finished my academic education about 30 years ago", says Berzin, "and after many years of hard work and my father spending a fortune, I found my self in a situation in which I could not find myself a useful employment. I was not stupid- I just really didn’t know how to work in the real world. That gap between what you are being taught in university and how real business life works is no less than humiliating. I was shocked. The whole traumatic process got me to the realization that something is severely wrong with our high education system, and that it needs to change".

Berzin felt no less then cheated, she was promised that she will acquire a profession and built a career and found out that in real life- that process is not always that simple. "in university, they don’t really teach you about the everyday parts of being a part of the industry", she says, "you don’t learn how to speak to contractors or how to write contracts, you just get no proper tools all you get is inspiration- how to make a house for a kitten- but how to make a 2 room apartment in Ramat Gan- nobody really tells you how to do that. No formal practice whatsoever. It is like learning how to make love through reading about it online".

Being a practical and down to earth woman, Berzin decided that she has to come up with a way to change the system, and to her surprise her idea was not even that revolutionary- it used to be the norm. "I am using a very simple method that was being practice more than 1000 years ago in Europe- the master and the apprentice method", she explains, "in ancient times, when one reached an age when one needed to acquire a profession, one was sent of to learn it while working for the masters of the field. People used to pay a lot of money just to get the chance to work alongside a master of their trade". Berzin believes that the human brain is only capable to learn while practicing, an understanding which made her adopt that ancient teaching method and give it a relevant adaptation for Israel of today. "I believe in learning through doing, the more you make mistakes- the better", she claims, "I encourage my students to make mistakes, that are how they will learn, not through reading about those mistakes in a book".

How does your academy stand out with reference to other academies in the field?

We are different on several levels. The first is that we have no placebo training: you only learn what you really need to know to work. No mathematics, no English- only what is purely relevant for your actual work. There is no conceptual training, no "go and design a house for a piano", only practical training to help you deal with the actual work you will be doing as an active interior designer.  Moreover, we make sure that our students know what they are going to be up against with. We are not sugar coating reality- we tell them what the business is for what it really is. The whole point is to prepare them for the day after, not to make them more creative- but more productive, and ready. Most of my students are women, and it is very important for me to teach them how to deal in a business that is primarily male dominated, for the environment is masculine- you have male contractors and male business men and you have to learn how to maneuver in such environment and thrive.

How does that happen in the actual learning process?

Well, the students accompany me on real work projects I am making. They see how I talk, how I solve issues and how the business really looks like. I'm teaching them how to become professional, even how to write proper mails, and most of all how to build there professional strength.

What does that mean?

How to bring yourself to the condition that you are not being shaken by every small thing that goes wrong or by other people's comments. How to trust yourself as a professional, trust your abilities and become rock solid in such a hectic and constantly changing profession- that is part of my secret of success, not only talent.

Another subject that is close to Berzin heart is the whole notion of female empowerment. "I believe that interior design is a feminine profession", she says, "because it contains dealing with many small details at the same time, and that is a feminine quality". Berzin claims that her female students finish their 2 years of training as different women. "It happened many times that a student of mine finished her training and than got a divorce", she admits, "Because I don’t only teach them to become stronger interior designer- I teach them how to become stronger as women".

The academy is located on Hachasmonaim Street 113, Tel Aviv. 03-5666160

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