the intern diaries {week ten}…

week 10 & the commercial project i’m working on is already in full swing… once again, i find my head spinning with the sheer pace with which these projects are tackled… in a few days the concept of the design will be pitched to the client & then it’s full steam ahead with submitting plans & fleshing things out… perhaps not too surprisingly, this has been the hardest week since i started my internship & the lessons are coming thick & fast… in one week i’ve helped formulate conceptual boards for each of the spaces {5 in total, including an outside area}, helped source furnishings & lighting, paint colours, fabrics & finishes… & yes, i’m officially exhausted already!

week 10: there’s no “i” in team…

i’ve always considered myself a team player… skill sharing, helping out when & where possible, even staying back late to get the job done in whatever role i’ve undertaken…

so it came as somewhat of a shock to me to discover this week that working as part of a team would actually be my biggest challenge to date… or, more specifically, the act of designing as a team…

a few days into my project & i was getting seriously stressed to the point that i couldn’t focus on the task at hand… every day i felt like i was merely spinning wheels & i seriously struggled to grasp the design that i was meant to be helping incorporate… i couldn’t wait for each day to end &, instead of being excited by this opportunity, i was becoming riddled with self doubt at every turn… why couldn’t i crack this? how could it be that after days & days of working on the same design i still struggled with visualising the spaces in my head? & how would i ever be able to select so much as a doorknob if i had absolutely no clarity as to the style we were supposedly aiming for? i found myself second guessing every design decision & on the brink of giving up on more than one occasion…

it wasn’t until later in the week that, out of desperation, i confided in a colleague about my struggles with the project design… i told her how my head was spinning trying to make sense of it all, how at times i could barely visualise the spaces, let alone the furniture, fittings & finishes… all of the anxieties & hang-ups i’d carried with me that entire week suddenly spilled out of my mouth in one fluid surge…

after listening patiently to my rant my colleague looked me in the eye & stated, quite simply, that learning to design as part of a team was not only one of the most difficult skill sets to attain, but also the most important…

it was then that i had what they call a “light bulb” moment {no pun intended as i hadn’t even gotten to sorting out the lighting issues yet!}…

i suddenly realised that the cause of all my angst wasn’t picking a fabric or selecting a paint colour, choosing a chair or finalising a finish…. i suddenly realised that, up until this very point in time, i had never actually had to collaborate with fellow designers on a project before… ever…

that is to say, i had never had to try and crawl inside the headspace of others & understand their aesthetic, their logic, their vision & then help make it become a reality…

until now it’s been all about me: my ideas, my sourcing & scheming, my plotting & planning… client briefs to one side, i have been the master of every design that i’ve created, from start to finish…

& now here i was, the very last in a line-up of no less than 8 people who each would be contributing their thoughts, visions, prejudices & preferences to this process…

no wonder i was struggling! can you even imagine?

first & foremost there’s the client: i haven’t actually met them as yet so was not privy to their initial brief {in fact, i’ve only been given a 3-word catchphrase to define the elusive style we’re trying to capture}

then there’s the chief designer on this particular project who has liaised with the client, surveyed & consulted & duly mapped out the space… this designer has worked in collaboration with not only their supervisor, but also their own assistant who is charged with drawing up the visuals {sketches, elevations, etc.} which will ultimately help bring the design to life when we present our scheme…

then there’s my “buddy” who is overseeing the ff&e process, i.e. me {unfortunately they have been ill for 3 of the 5 days this week & consequently my support system has been a little m.i.a}…

& of course all of these steps are overseen by the head designer {our boss} & their second-in-charge…

then, only once each & every one of these people have deliberated, debated & dabbled in every aspect of the design, there’s little ol’ me at the end of the line trying desperately to interpret their individual & collective vision & bring about a cohesive whole through the pieces i choose to complete the design…

this design process has more layers than an onion!

of all the challenges i thought i would inevitably face in the course of changing my career, i never thought something as simple as learning the art of collaboration would be one of them…

lesson duly learned…

image via: leni dont forget me

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4 thoughts on “the intern diaries {week ten}…

  1.  
    Wow that’s really scary! Poor you. It’s kinda made me want to be a one man band. I get your point about never having to consider someone else’s taste, that is the problem with KLC I guess. No one ever tells you they don’t like the wallpaper you chose or whatever. Keep going Sue, you’re nearly there! Has it made your next steps any clearer or whether you want to have your own practice or work for yourself?

    • hiya… i understand why the klc tutors didn’t critique schemes & choices (as at the end of the day it’s really quite subjective), but i equally wish they’d give some more constructive commentary… like if they reviewed your scheme and asked you what mood you were trying to evoke & then suggesting ways to achieve this… or design considerations for the space you’re planning… i found the only constructive commentary came if you really prodded them with specific questions… problem is, sometimes when you’re learning you don’t know what questions you have to ask in order to get the answer you need! as for what direction i’ll take… this experience has taught me a few things… namely, collaboration for me is better when it’s non-hierarchical… i’m all for taking on board different opinions & the like (that’s how you learn & grow), but when you have layer upon layer of people all giving you conflicting messages it just gets messy and the design gets so diluted it rarely resembles the initial concept… very frustrating & confusing… secondly, whilst ultimately i would be happy going out on my own (it’s a confidence matter & i need to skill up in several areas first too), i think a very small set-up would suit me best… maybe 3 or so designers with different skill sets (tech, creative, management) collaborating would be ideal…

    • daniel from klc, you need no introduction! i spoke fondly of you this very night to the lovely ladies becks & kimbo… how the hell are you? i’ve been meaning to write to you forever… i hope sth africa is treating you well… you’re often in my thoughts! what the heck are you up to?

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