Multipotentialite: A person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life; someone who has no “one true calling” the way specialists do.
As a self-described multipotentialite, Yorkville University graduate Meredith Arnold admits her educational and career path to discovering her passion for interior decorating wasn’t one without a few exploratory pitstops along the way.
“I have an inordinate number of interests, and have pursued many careers and avenues of education,” laughed Arnold, who was recently named the valedictorian for the Interior Decorating program’s graduating Class of 2021.
In fact, in addition to her diploma in Interior Decorating, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Calgary, three additional diplomas, and countless certificates in various fields. She’s also created several successful small businesses over the years – including her newly launched residential design and decoration company, Hiraeth // Home.
Although Arnold admitted that she always considered interior decorating “the pinnacle of careers for me,” she plans to stay true to her multipotentialite ways and continue her educational journey beyond her graduation from Yorkville University.
“I plan on keeping the skills that I learned during my time at Yorkville University sharp, while constantly supplementing my education with additional technical and creative knowledge,” she said.
Arnold recently sat down to reflect on her time at Yorkville University, her passion for interior decorating, and her plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
The act of telling about oneself is a rather awkward one, especially if one has a rather self-deprecating sense of humour, like I do. I’m not one to toot my own horn, or even acknowledge my successes, although I suppose I have had several. To me, life is a series of learning opportunities, and on the path of life, those opportunities make for a beautifully decorated path.
In my 40 years of life, I have moved 23 times (the most recent of which is taking place in October 2021 to Saskatoon), and have lived in five Canadian provinces, making my path extremely long and circuitous. My education and career have taken similarly roundabout routes, culminating with the Interior Decorating program at Yorkville University. Although Interior Decorating was always the pinnacle of careers for me, it will not be the end of my education. I plan on keeping the skills that I learned during my time at Yorkville University sharp, while constantly supplementing my education with additional technical and creative knowledge.
What brought you to Yorkville University? Where were you in life when you decided to continue your studies with us?
The Interior Decorating program at Yorkville University came to me at the exact right time in my life. I had just moved to yet another new province, and was in need of an outlet that would allow me to escape from my young children. I needed something that was just mine; something I could work hard at, and be rewarded for my efforts (unlike parenting, where no matter how hard you work, you are undervalued). I had been looking for an extensive online program in Interior Decorating for years, but had never found a program that was in-depth enough. All of the meaty programs were in-person, and I couldn’t make that work while being a full-time parent. When I was told about the Yorkville University program, I immediately began to research it, and ended up applying the very same day! I had never felt so sure of a decision. It was a life-changing one!
What made you decide to pursue your passion for interior decorating?
I have had a passion for Interior Decorating for as long as I can remember. I used to drive my parents crazy by rearranging their furniture on a regular basis. I learned to read blueprints and draft when I was 11, resulting in the redesign of my parent’s backyard on paper, and then in reality. Out of University (the first time), I spent several years in the New Home Building industry, doing everything from New Home sales to home planning. Although I enjoyed my time in the industry, I felt incredibly stunted creatively, and left to pursue other educational goals. I don’t regret my decision to pursue different industries, but my heart always led back to design – except this time I wanted to dictate how creative I could be. Hence, my search for an online Interior Decorating program.
What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at Yorkville University?
There are several important things that I have taken away from my time at Yorkville University, but the most important, by far, is that collaboration is key. Design and decorating are not about competition (although there is plenty of that in the real world), but about learning from one another and celebrating each other’s successes. When one designer succeeds, we all are gifted with furthering our own knowledge and creative edge. It is not a “go-it-alone” career, even if you run a one-person small business. Gathering classmates, teammates, mentors, and inspiration from other designers heightens our own work, and benefits our clients. I will be the first to acknowledge how much I have learned from my classmates during our class discussions and through interactions in which we muddled through our classwork together. I believe that it is important to acknowledge the individuals that inspire our work, and encourage them in their own projects; Yorkville University fostered this attitude, and I will uphold it for the rest of my career.
What are your plans after graduation both immediate and long term?
Since graduation, I have taken the time to research what design niche is underserved in my new city. I have created a business called Hiraeth // Home that aims at filling that niche. Although it is a small business at the moment, including myself and a part-time employee, I will be growing the business, focusing on employing moms that are wishing to get back into the workforce after child-rearing. I have spent the past few months working with professionals on creating cutting edge branding, and will be focusing my social media presence around teaching current-and-potential clients, as well as the general public, about design and decorating. I have several major projects lined up, and several smaller ones to keep me busy for the foreseeable future.
If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
I have been asked a lot of questions by new students starting the Interior Decorating program at Yorkville University. The mentoring program was one of my favourite parts of the entire program. The question I got more often than any other was, ‘When do we get to the decorating part of the program? Am I going to need all this technical stuff to decorate?’ My answer was always a definitive YES! Concentrating on the technical side of decorating gives you an incredibly strong foundation to problem solve and speak confidently with various trades you will be working with. You need to understand the technical aspects to create practical and functional designs; you need to know the “rules” to understand when and where you can break them. Creativity and taste cannot be learned, but it can be nurtured and explored. Truly excellent design combines knowledge, inspiration, and ingenuity.