Award-winning interior designer Diane Durocher

After 27 years in business as the owner and lead designer of Diane Durocher Interiors, Diane Durocher, ASID, IIDA, CAPS, CID, has won numerous awards (including multiple “Design of Excellence” awards from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)). She has firsthand experience in all aspects of the interior design industry and is a firm believer in the importance of continued learning. In a recent conversation, she spoke of her Berkeley College education, her journey to becoming one of the area’s most successful interior designers and what she looks for when hiring new interior designers.

Intense preparation for the real world

“My Berkeley education laid the foundation for where I am today,” said Ms. Durocher. “The Interior Design program was very serious, and my professors were demanding. They instilled a great work ethic and were very focused on the skills that I needed. I feel that the program really represented the professional world that I was about to enter.” She continued, “It was very diversified in terms of exposing us to all areas of interior design. Another important aspect of the program was the emphasis on running a successful business. Interior design is about attention to detail, learning how to present your designs, and translating those ideas to a client. These critical parts of my education are as important today as they were then.”

Paying her dues along the way

Like many Berkeley College students, Ms. Durocher was older than the traditional first-year college student when she made the decision to embark on the program that would change her future. As the mother of three young children, she started slowly by taking evening courses. Berkeley was ideal for her as the school has always made a commitment to making education possible for everyone—even in the days before online education. She persevered, perfecting her skills and taking guidance from the Berkeley faculty. “My professors were also experienced professionals. They were designers and architects - and they were sticklers,” she remembered. “That, along with what I learned during my internships, made the difference.”

Striking out on her own

After her graduation in 1995, she established Diane Durocher Interiors with just two clients. Her business has grown steadily, and she consistently relies on Berkeley College as her first choice when looking for interns and staff. “Almost all of my staff have been from Berkeley,” she pointed out. “And many of them have been with me for years, including one of my top design associates Heather Frabasile, who graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in 2012. She interned with me, came on staff shortly after, and is my valued 'right hand'".

Current opportunities in interior design

“I am always impressed with the Berkeley talent!” according to Ms. Durocher. “I’ve had excellent experiences with both graduates and interns. I encourage the students to think outside of the box when pursuing a career in interior design and often find myself saying, ‘Look at every building and home that you see. Within those buildings are career opportunities. Interior design is all around us. There can be career opportunities in specifying and designing flooring, lighting, furniture, wall covering, fabric, cabinetry, kitchens and bathrooms, and on and on—so don’t limit yourself to thinking that you can only pursue one avenue of interior design.’ I know many Berkeley graduates who are working in different areas of the interior design business. They are using the skills that they learned in school and getting a chance to create.”

Never stop learning

In addition to the skills needed to get started, Ms. Durocher spoke of the interpersonal qualities she looks for. “I learned a long time ago, when I worked in the banking industry, that the customer really is always right,” she said. “This business is all about the clients. An interior designer's job is to design for our clients - it’s their style preference, their palette choice, their home - our guidance. A successful design project is based on our clients' satisfaction. It's important for them to feel connected to us. They’re putting their trust in us and it’s our responsibility to guide them. At Berkeley, I learned to confidently present my work, our professors were our ‘clients’. Satisfying the criteria was critical.”

“Interior design is like fashion; it is always changing. However, like a classically designed suit, clean lines - never go out of style. It’s our responsibility to stay informed about trends, have knowledge about sustainability and learn everything you can about universal design and aging in place.”

Qualifications that can help you stand out

According to Ms. Durocher, it’s important to stand out to employers and potential clients. “Having a degree in interior design and the professional associations with which you’re affiliated will help validate your qualifications,” she explained. “The learning doesn’t stop after you graduate. Continuing education credits are mandated for professionals and pertain to the health, safety, and welfare of the public. It’s impossible to know everything about the interior design business when you graduate. Continue to grow in this field and apply what you learn along the way.”

Looking back on professional and personal success

Since her days at Berkeley, Diane Durocher’s talent has been recognized throughout her career. Looking back, she said, “It’s wonderful to have a career that I still enjoy after 27 years. I’ve been blessed.” In addition to her many awards, she has been selected to showcase her work in prominent designer showhouses and has been featured in prestigious design publications. But her success comes from more than just her sense of design and her ability to bring visions to life. It took hard work.

“It wasn’t easy to go back to school while raising three small children, but it was important to me to pursue my dream,” she recalled. “And if something is so important, you should pursue it—it’s never too late.”

To learn more about career-focused degree and certificate programs, including the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Interior Design program accredited by CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation), visit

The views and/or opinions in this article are those of the individuals interviewed. The academic achievements and/or employment outcomes described in this article are specific to each individual and are not a guarantee of similar results for past or current students. For up-to-date and detailed information, please visit and view our catalogs at