the intern diaries {week twelve}…

next time you’re lucky enough to be wined & dined, be sure to do these few things: linger a little longer in that comfty restaurant chair, admire the grain of the table top or the colour of the paint on the walls that makes the space look just so!

savour the cold caress of the door pull as you make your way into the bathrooms, marvel at the formation of the floor tiles & smile sweetly at the flawless reflection those well-lit mirrors afford you…

why?

because some poor bugger had to agonise long and hard over choosing each & every one of those items in order to make the cohesive whole presented before you…

week twelve: the nooks & crannies…

this week’s task is scheduling, scheduling & more scheduling… & who knew exactly how many components it would take to make a restaurant a functioning space: i certainly didn’t, at least not prior to the events of this past week!

starting with a floor plan & aided by some detailed elevations, my task was to work my way through each & every nook & cranny of this site & record all the furniture, fixtures & equipment required to make it come to life…

from bulkhead fittings to floor tiles, toilet basins to door pulls, pass counters to bar tops, all must be counted, coded & accounted for: believe me, it’s no mean feat, even if this is a relatively-small project…

i’m still not finished, but i have already drawn a few conclusions in this process:

a) sourcing sanitary ware is boring {loos, flush mechanisms, cisterns, bidets, etc.}

b) my mind wanders all too easily when bored; and

c) there’s a market out there for anyone who can design sexy outdoor furniture for restaurants…

what’s even more enlightening is observing how i work when faced with what seems like an insummountable list of decisions to be made: brass fittings or chrome? marble tops or timber? tapered legs or turned? {have i mentioned i’m a libran & therefore astrologically dispositioned to procrastinate?}

take each of these decisions & times them by 3 {as it’s prudent to have options to show the client} & it’s easy to see how a week of your life can disappear in the blink of an eye…

sometimes i’m surprisingly remarkably methodical & stick to finding one “perfect” item at a time… like hunting down the missing piece to a giant jigsaw… i find this method forces me to be more decisive & focussed…

other times i must concede i do fall down the internet rabbit hole: whilst trying to source a door handle, for example, it’s not uncommon to find myself some two hours later staring vacantly at a site with bench cushions {or dining chairs, pendant lights, upholstery leathers… take your pick really}, door handle still m.i.a…

at these times i find a little regrouping session helps… pick an easy target, get a few quick wins in & then resume the search for the more elusive pieces…

most importantly of all though? remember to schedule in a tea break!

image by tim walker via: trendland

the intern diaries {week 11}…

with a client meeting looming, the week begins & ends at break-neck speed… thankfully it’s a short one {3 days on, 2 days off} as i’m running about like a mad hen sourcing, painting, haggling & generally wheeling & dealing to get samples in on time… only problem being, the samples we need seem to change on an hour-to-hour basis…

week 11: learning to paddle…

it is fair to say that most design processes are, by nature, fluid… they are formulated upon so many elements, most of which are variables {whims & fancy, practicalities, planning constraints, budget, deadlines & lead times}, that it is inevitable that there will be a certain amount of chop & change, push & pull… indeed it’s imperative that this is part of the process in order to ensure the very best of outcomes…

but instead of being like a meandering stream gently steering its course around the various obstacles it encounters, the design process i’m involved in more resembles a merciless torrent careering frantically onwards & crushing whatever lies in its path: & there i am, desperately bobbing up & down & trying to stay afloat…

if nothing else, i can say i’m at least learning the art of navigating the direction of the flow… & it’s a fine balance: knowing where to put my time & energies {both of which are limited}, which aspects to prioritise & what to hang fire on… only after many, many false starts am i beginning to gain some intuition on this front…

case in point: last friday i was charged with pulling together various samples to show to the client as part of the the upcoming concept presentation…

included in the mix were no less than 3 paint samples {two different paint companies}, an as-yet unspecified mix of outdoor fabrics, a specific curtain fabric {the only sample of which i could find through my research was vintage}, two types of floor tiles {one to match a randomly-sourced photo, no less, & the other to match a “found” sample which had no identifying details attached}, several leathers & various contract fabrics {the requirements for which are quite specific & limiting}…

i was also asked to prepare two wood samples: one to be hand-painted in a sleek, high-gloss finish & the second a piece of panelling to be stripped of its current colour, roughened up {for texture}, painted {colour to be determined} & then stripped back to achieve a distressed look… not a five minute job, i think you’ll agree!

all of this whilst finalising the imagery for 5 separate concept boards {some of which couldn’t be completed until the actual samples had been sourced}…

where to start? i figured i’d lob a few feelers out to try & get the ball rolling on sourcing some of the less obvious pieces & then start gathering some of the easier pieces so as to at least have something to present: this was the quickest part of the process & involved firing off a few emails & bombing it around various suppliers & pulling a slew of options to throw into the mix {no time to make decisions or fantasise about schemes… just pulling possibilities & hoping the opportunity to play would come later: it didn’t}

experience told me to hang fire on the samples that needed to be prepped & painted: the fact that the team hadn’t even verbalised a paint colour was a huge red flag &, worst come to worst, stripping wood & painting was something i could do out of business hours…

regardless of how organised i was, time was always going to be against me… indeed, once i’d sprinted to the paint merchants, followed by a trip to the hardware store, raced through a few fabric shops & spent some unproductive hours online trying to research & locate the more elusive items the first day was gone…

the second & third days came & went in a similar fashion blur…

& sure enough, by the time the morning of the presentation arrived i was once again racing to the local hardware {this was the third trip in as many days} & queuing up with the local tradies to procure a high gloss varnish to apply to the wood panelling {oh yes, you remember… that’s the one which was going to be distressed}…

image by tim walker via: odd stuff magazine

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

the intern diaries {week 9}…

hold on tight, things are about to get interesting!

so week 9 has been & gone and i have the distinct feeling my internship is turning a corner & i don’t just mean passing the half way mark… for those of you who checked out my recent post on friday’s thoughts you’re a step ahead of the rest…

week 9: be careful what you wish for…

so a couple of weeks back i mentioned that i’d approached the director of ff&e about stepping up my role… i wanted to be involved with a project from the outset so i could follow the process as a whole & learn the ropes from the ground up…

in particular, i wanted to understand the processes of budgeting & scheduling, etc. {what most would consider to be the boring, behind-the-scenes steps} in real time…

well, little did i think my request would even be registered, never mind acted upon… but later the same week i was told there might be an upcoming project on which i could get involved…

cut to one week later {last thursday} & i’m told not only is there a project, but that i’m going to be actually running the ff&e process myself {of course, under the watchful eye of a colleague}… the words “make or break” were being bantered around the team, followed by the odd guffaw & chuckle…

i suddenly became aware of an absence of air in my lungs… that momentary cessation of breath which signals the onset of a mild panic!

at 4pm that same day i was pulled into an impromptu meeting wherein i was given a brief overview of the project to date… by this stage the initial consultation with the client had taken place and there had already been a couple of meetings with the head designer which had resulted in a plethora of inspiration images, plans & sketches having been produced…

so already it’s pretty clear i’m playing catch-up…

my brain is now racing, desperately trying to take it all in, & then the bombshell… there’s a meeting the next day with the head designer & not only am i attending, but i’m meant to have something to actually contribute…

suffice to say the momentary loss of breath from earlier had now escalated into a distinct tightening of the chest muscles overlaid with full-on heart palpitations… & suddenly that old saying “be careful what you wish for” was intercepting my thoughts at every turn, making it almost impossible for me to come up with any kind of game plan…

why the panic? isn’t this exactly what i’d asked for?

well, kind of… i’d actually secretly dared to dream of being given the opportunity to play co-pilot: following the lead of one of the more experienced team members whilst studiously taking notes & doing the behind-the-scenes gumph work {making phone calls, ordering samples, budgeting, etc.}…

what i hadn’t expected {in a million years} was to be told i would be running the process itself…

yes, hands up, some self doubt kicked in… but beyond that, what i really struggled with was knowing where to begin & what the heck was expected of me… had this been my studio & my client, then i’d make my own rules… but when you’re working for somebody else, it’s a different ball game altogether…

a bit of direction is required & in order to get some answers to the multitudinous questions swimming about in my head i’ve determined to bribe my colleague with a daily supply of brownies & pump him for information & insight on an hourly basis…

to say i’m going to be learning on the job with this project is putting it mildly…

lesson learned, be careful what you wish for as you may just get it!

image via: lauren b beauty

the intern diaries {week 8}…

so, week 8 marks the halfway mark of my internship and this is what i’m going to kindly start referring to as the business end of proceedings… time to take the bull by the horns and tick off my own wish list for things i want & desperately need to take with me from this experience…

time to become the puppet master of my own career!

week 8: taking the initiative…

to once again prove the point {as if it needed proving} that interior design is indeed 90% admin, this week starts off where last week ended: the great fabric sample scavenge of 2012…

my mission, should i choose to accept it, was to source 125+ fabric samples, in duplicate, from suppliers in no less than 4 different countries… {cue the mission impossible theme song}

jewel-toned silks & lustrous velvets, aged leathers & hand-blocked linens & an array of some of the most exquisitely-embroidered fabrics my fingertips have ever caressed were all lovingly collected, documented and filed to send to our clients to pour over…

i took a few moments here & there to enjoy just being in their presence: overlaying one fabric with another, appreciating the interplay of colours & textures {the pairing of which i had never previously had the occasion to enjoy}… i was, in short, mesmerised by how this particular scheme came to life at the hands of this lively, if somewhat unlikely, fusion…

outside of these stolen moments, my week was pretty much consumed by pounding pavements, smiling sweetly, begging phone calls & ever-so-polite emails… & in the end i was but one sample short {not in stock}… so i’m giving credit where credit is due and calling this a rather successful mission!

it’s funny {or not, depending on your viewpoint} how much easier it is to obtain samples at a moment’s notice when you’re working for an established design firm…

i remember all too well my days as a student trying to procure a paltry handful of samples at best from any one supplier and, with few exceptions, my requests being greeted with grunts, rolled eyeballs or heavy sighs… or, in the case of one tile shop, the sales lady following me around like a store detective once i had declared my student status…

i can laugh now {they say time heals all wounds}, but…

anyhows, as much as i loved being up close & personal with these yarns & hides, by the end of it all i was definitely ready to take on some bigger challenges…

and so it was i decided to take the advice i would so willingly offer to others in my position, and i approached the director of ff&e about upping the ante on my internship…

if i’m going to really understand the ins & outs of this whole interior design process, i need to devour it from nose to tail: innards & all…

& to do this, i need to get my teeth stuck into something from its infancy… so i was pretty chuffed when the director was responsive to my request & even happier when a few days after our talk he approached me with news of an upcoming project… small enough for me to get stuck into & take some ownership of, big enough to be exposed to the process as a whole…

i love it when a plan comes together…

image by tim walker via: polyvore

the intern diaries {weeks 5, 6 & 7}…

i’m back, as promised!

& as i approach the half-way mark of my four-month internship, every week i discover there is still so very much to learn… but, almost invariably, not always the kind of lessons one might expect… i try to approach every task i’m assigned {or volunteer for} with an open mind & a steely determination to take from it whatever lesson can be derived {as much from the process itself, as the end result}… in this way, jobs that might otherwise seem mundane or meaningless, instead become an adventure: a challenge to myself to rise up & find the hidden value within…

weeks 5 & 6: quietude…

as it turns out, these two weeks have proved as much an exercise in the importance of keeping oneself healthy as it has in issues of interior design…

first i’m struck down by a flu, and then a two-day migraine which knocks me off my feet…

humph…

but, in the time that i have been able to put in at work {5 days over a two week period… so not a good look, especially when you’re trying to impress}, the lesson that has stood out, above & beyond anything else, is this: the need for quietude in design…

when designing a space i have always, always been drawn to those furnishings & finishes with character, charm, an edge & a presence… strong forms & finishes, emotive colours or jaw-droppingly exquisite detail… i’m a sucker for a piece that dazzles & delights and is a show-stopper, as much from up-close as it is from afar…

but what i have learnt through first-hand observation of a true maestro at work is this: those quiet, calm & unassuming pieces {&, to be honest, even those that sometimes border on being downright insipid to my novice eye}, well, they are as equally important in a scheme as the show stoppers themselves…

why?

quite simply, because if every furnishing or finish or fabric that you choose is a stand-out in its own right, then the end result is that NOTHING actually, errr, stands out…

think of it, if you will, in terms of a play, a film or a damn good book… what makes the lead characters shine? what gives them depth & context, light & shadow? what indeed, if not the way they interplay with the supporting cast…

& whilst this might seem like a really obvious point to make, sometimes the more obvious something is, the more likely it is to be overlooked…

week 7: and then there was one…

so my first week back from a week-long holiday and i’m greeted by the news that my fellow ff&e intern has flown the coup… she’s opted to take a paid role with the offer of some long-term job security over finishing her four month internship here…

&, on balance, who can blame her?

interning is not for everybody & it’s a constant, constant case of weighing up the pros versus the cons… quite simply, like most things in life, if what you’re getting out of it isn’t worth that which you’re putting in, then it’s a no brainer really…

luckily for me, the good outweighs the bad & for now i intend to continue on…

& so to this week’s lesson: i can safely say that anyone who says interior design is 10% creative & 90% planning, well… let’s just say they’re soooo not lying!

case in point: the week before my holiday, we were charged with compiling an ff&e budget for our ongoing residential project…

this not only proved to be a huge undertaking, but also a fabulous lesson in the merit of being organised: i had two days in which to catalogue & source trade prices for more than 160 fabrics {no mean feat for a lady with a mild case of phone phobia}

where to start?

step one: catalogue every single fabric selection in an excel spreadsheet, including the fabric name & code, the distributor’s name & contact details, the room in which the fabric is to be used &, of course, a column to input the costs…

step two: filter the suppliers & start dialling… 100+ phone calls & a dozen follow-up emails {to verify i was calling from a trade account} and at 5.27pm on day two the job is done!

let’s just say my years of spreadsheeting in financial firms has come in handy…

it truly never ceases to amaze me the range of skills required to successfully undertake this role: i feel the left & the right sides of my brain may be firm friends by the end of this four months!

image by tim walker via: image amplified

the intern diaries {week four}…

well, the end of this week marks one month since i started my internship {a quarter of the way through} & it has flown by…

some ups & downs this week, as i am swiftly learning is par for the course… & i am still finding it hard to gauge the expectations of an intern… especially a “mature age” one like me…

it’s a constant question of striking a balance between wanting to leverage on the veritable wealth of knowledge & experience you have to impart from the culmination of all the other chapters of your life & working within the parameters & expectations of an internship…

when do you speak up & when do you shut up… do they want to hear my suggestions or am i here purely to take instruction? do i share my shortcuts & time-saving tips {acquired over many, many years in other industries} or do i stick to the status quo and follow the corporate line, even if it’s a little longer?

mmmh, i’ll let you know if i ever figure it out!

day sixteen: taking it on the chin…

prior to this career move i’d been in the same industry for nearly 15 years… so, like most people changing industries, it can feel a little overwhelming at times not instinctively knowing what to do… i’m not used to having to wait on instruction and i’m constantly trying to be resourceful & self starting… but sometimes that leads me to falling flat on my face… in second guessing someone else’s requirements, sometimes you guess wrong… self doubt inevitably creeps in… i’m trying to learn to just take everything on the chin…

day seventeen: master of your own destiny…

today i’m trying a different tack altogether… in order to get the most out of this experience i’ve endeavoured to treat every single day as a new opportunity to shine… i refuse to let the self-doubt creep in as it can be exhausting…

i’m already pretty heavily loaded up on the work front, but i decide to offer my help to another team too… i figure as long as i don’t completely over-extend myself {and end up disappointing everybody} this will be the best way to get to know what the rest of the teams are up to… what’s that expression about being master of your own destiny?

there are so many different projects going on at any one time here, i know i’m literally just seeing the tip of the iceberg… i want to dig a little deeper, accelerate the learning process & most of all impress…

i’m so tremendously cognisant that these opportunities don’t come every day & i’m also hugely aware of how much i {and my partner} have sacrificed in order for me to be here… time, money, energy & opportunity cost: it’s all on the line…

day eighteen: you do the math…

a follow-up today on the commercial project i’m working on…

& today’s lesson is a quick one on budgeting: i’ve often pondered the secrets to divvying up the pennies on an interior design project… especially when you are sourcing “found” items and have no way of knowing in advance what the perfect piece is going to cost…

in my sourcing for this project i’ve had a schedule to work to, so the number crunching has already been done… the schedule lists various pieces of information, including where the item is to be used, the budget allocation, the amount of each item needed & the desired dimensions {if there are space confinements, eg the ceiling is 2000mm high, then that measurement is noted as MAX so i know there’s no room for negotiation, otherwise it’s a matter of getting as close as you can to what has been requested}

obviously when you’re commissioning new pieces it’s easier to stay within all of these guidelines, but sourcing “found” {antique or vintage} items is a little trickier: firstly, finding pieces that fit the ‘look’ or ‘feel’ you’re after is the first obstacle… does it speak the right language? will it sit well with existing pieces? is the finish correct & if not, can it be altered?; secondly, finding pieces that fulfil the ‘look’ & sit within the allocated dimensions creates an added layer of difficulty… there’s a lot of sieving through endless “perfect” pieces that just won’t fit, no matter what way you flip them; & finally, finding pieces with the ‘look’, which are the right size & fall within budget… well, that’s a whole other ball game!

a few of the pieces i’ve sourced are well over the allocated budget {some almost double}, so here’s where the negotiations come in to play… we’re able to trim a little off the cost of one item {thanks to some negotiating} & reallocate those funds accordingly… another item becomes redundant altogether, hence extra £s in the kitty… a further bit of juggling & we’ve managed to pretty much balance the books…

this is a real relief as it means all of my pieces can stay & it’s time to start putting them on reserve for a couple of weeks {to buy ourselves time whilst we await client approval}

day nineteen: reservations…

so, today is pretty much a continuation from yesterday… i spend the day negotiating reserving items… some sources are more open to this process than others {those more accustomed to working with interior design firms readily reserve items for us, whilst others are less willing to take stock off the shelf without a guaranteed sale} which brings up a whole new set of problems: what if the items we can’t reserve get sold before the client agrees purchase? answer: then we have to source something else from scratch & go through the whole procedure again… this could result in some serious tale chasing…

in addition, we’d been waiting on some final dimensions from site to determine if all of our pieces will actually fit… super frustrating as it turns out the “perfect” cupboard turns out to be not so perfect afterall… it’s approximately 7 centimetres too tall… back to the drawing board for that piece!

& so it continues… another day dedicated to trawling the internet…

in the meantime, the schedule of found items is sent to the client & we wait to hear back…

day twenty: victory at last…

some positive news today & it came in the form of an email from the client: “this looks fantastic”

three little words that made my heart soar… the client loved my pieces! hoorah…

now we can get to nailing down some purchases and requesting pro-forma invoices… we also firm up a delivery date {when somebody will be dedicated to be on site to take receipt of everything} and things are looking good… i’m elated…

the residential project steps up a gear also…

at a late morning meeting with the head designer we run through fabrics {well, myself & the other intern pretty much just watch the selection process… i’m reasonably confident nobody needs to hear our opinion on which wall covering works best or whether to combine a stripe with a floral… it’s that balancing act again of knowing when to speak up & when to just watch & learn}…

with a further client meeting looming, we’re working hard to meet our deadlines now… we finalise our furniture boards, taking into account all the last-minute changes from this morning’s meeting & we’re also set the task of creating some conceptual boards to show the client too… these involve more inspirational furniture pieces that evoke a mood or feeling we’re hoping to create, rather than choosing specific furnishings to represent those pieces drawn on plan…

after today’s flurry of activity my head is spinning & i’m singing the friday song… weekends seem to come just when you need them most, don’t they!

image by tim walker via: iconolo.gy

the intern diaries {week three}…

week three & i haven’t been fired yet, so i take that as a good sign!

i’m exhausted, but appreciative for the lessons learned…

if nothing else, i’m wondering if, from a learning perspective, a smaller studio might be a better fit for me in the longer term: here the design process is, broadly speaking, split across two teams: architecture & design and furniture, fittings & equipment {ff&e}… as i’ve mentioned before, i’m in the latter group, so my current exposure to the design process is limited therein… we’re not greatly involved with the initial planning of the spaces, instead we work from an already populated plan {ie, one with the key pieces already plotted… a chair here, a table there, a lamp or two for good measure, etc, etc..}

so fabrics, finishes, furnishings, lighting, colour & texture are our thing {not such a bad start in the design world afterall}

day 11: now we’re talkin’

well, don’t i feel all grown up… i was left to my own devices today to devise a whole room’s furnishings and amazingly it seemed to pass muster… no changes, no “you’re going down completely the wrong line” as i was fully expecting to hear in light of the events of previous weeks… i’d even mentally prepared a retaliation in the event that i needed to whip out a cheeky retort:

“criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” frank a. clark

like it? i’ll save it for another day, as it’s sure to be needed!

anyways, maybe it’s a trick and this room isn’t really going to get used at all, but i don’t care… my work passed muster for the first time and i’m clicking my heels jiminy cricket style! & how did i master this, until now, elusive task? i threw together about a dozen items that no person in their right mind would ever instinctively think actually went together! if nothing else, i’m learning to broaden my horizons & vary my design approach!

after today’s major victory, the afternoon ended with a team meeting {the first since i started}… it’s truly amazing to hear how many projects are on the go here & i honestly don’t know how people can stay across so many schedules at once, but i intend to learn!

onwards & upwards…

day 12: panning for gold…

every now and then a teeny, tiny nugget of invaluable information rises to the surface…

and so it was today: whilst having our furniture boards reviewed, a wee gem of an observation emerged relating to the furnishings we had chosen & why the look wasn’t ‘working’… it’s amazing, but the phrase ‘too many legs’ hadn’t really entered my stream of conscience before, but now here it was, the simplest of concepts giving way to a genuine ‘light bulb’ moment…

& this is one lesson i intend to burn into the deep & dark recesses of my memory banks to pull out time & time again on future projects…

but what does it all mean? well you may ask…

i look back at our furnishing board now and it’s obvious: way too many legs for any one room… every where i look, there they are: naked legs… on the tables we’ve selected, the bed, the desk, the ottoman & sofa… exposed legs here, there & everywhere… now, i’m not a total prude, but i have to agree, some coverage is required… and so it is we set about reworking our room scape & incorporating a mix of styles so that the space is not completely over-run with spindly, curvy, turned & cabriole-esque legs at each & every turn…

instead plinths, skirts & boxy bottoms start to take their place, and a less ‘busy’ scheme emerges… simples… job done!

day 13: not the new girl anymore

so there’s a new girl in town… another intern starts today in our team & it takes the pressure off for sure… that makes a minimum of 3 interns in the office at present & it makes me wonder how many businesses out there supplement their permanent workforce with a revolving door of ‘volunteer’ staff…

don’t get me wrong, when i first took on this role i was under no illusions about the chances this would turn into a permanent, paid role… & so i’m not wildly disillusioned to see so many other new faces {or ‘competition’} coming through the door on a weekly basis, but it has given me pause for thought…

from a personal stance, i’m ok with the notion of internships as long as there is a fair exchange of learning for labour… whilst my colleagues are open to explaining, guiding, coaching & passing on some of their skills & tips, then i for one am in… and there are legitimate lessons to be extracted from even some of the more mundane tasks, if you’re willing to learn…

but there would certainly be situations in which i was less effusive about such roles… those companies {and i’m sure they exist} who see interns as little more than unpaid office juniors: so not cool!

anyhows, on the subject of learning, there’s another meeting today with the head designer to run through our latest boards… & this is a much bigger meeting than usual involving the whole project team: it’s a real collaborative effort to make sure we’re all on the same page, so to speak… & it would appear on this occasion that the flow of information got a little intercepted along the way as, dishearteningly, a fair chunk of our work is scrapped {it falls outside the brief}… so it’s back to the drawing board on a few of our rooms…

no time to brood though, later this afternoon it’s time for a catch-up on the commercial project i’ve been helping out with, & it looks like they’re happy to go ahead with some of the pieces i’ve selected… i’m giddy to think i might one day see some of the furnishings i personally sourced appear in a public space… & i’m impressed with how quick the decision process is {once again, i’m assuming this process becomes easier & more instinctual with practise}

next on the agenda: i need to reserve some of the items i’ve sourced… this involves ringing/emailing shops from which i’ve sourced items & asking them to hold various pieces for a few weeks until we finalise our selections… it’s hit & miss: some places let us reserve stock, whilst others insist they raise an invoice for it before they’ll take it off the shop floor {which means we’ve effectively bought it, but they won’t charge us until we decide to go ahead with it &, if not, the invoice will be reversed}… apparently that’s standard industry practise!

day 14: crash & burn

another friday already {weeks go by super quickly here} & we’re back to the drawing board today, reworking the designs that got scrapped in yesterday’s meeting…

& i decide a change of tack is in order: this time around i’m going to invest my time in revisiting the inspirational imagery the client has already seen & approved & use this as my jump-off point {as any detour from this seems to be wasted effort at this stage}…

hours & hours of sourcing later & at last it’s home time… i’ve been putting in a fair bit of overtime lately, but today i’m sprinting out the door: this goose is cooked!

image by tim walker via: runway 411

the intern diaries {week two}…

well, this second week has flown by as quickly as the first & my head has been in a perpetual spin… so far i’m finding this whole intern process much like the proverbial rollercoaster ride… one day i’m on a high & buzzing from all the new things i’m learning, & the next i’m feeling hopelessly overwhelmed & pulled in every direction…

day six: reboot & start again…

so, i’m quickly appreciating the need to unlearn much of what i spent 2 1/4 years actively learning during the course of my interior design studies… uhuh… when it comes down to reality, all of my artsy fartsy preconceived notions of interior design are being sorely tested…

firstly, the conceptual imagery process would appear to be somewhat of an urban myth… all those hours back at school where i feverishly searched for just the right abstract image to convey a mood, a colour palette or a suggested finish… it just doesn’t happen like that {at least not here or not on this project}… got to say, i’m a little bummed as that was one of my favourite parts of the process!

instead, images of existing properties with a similar look & feel to that desired get pulled as inspiration… these form the beginnings of a design language of sorts that can then be adopted, tweaked & revised for the latest project…

secondly, the notion of finding the perfect this or that is also seemingly somewhat redundant {at least at the early stages of the project, like this one is}… can’t get that gorgeous silk sample until sometime next week? no time to wait so consider it scrapped & start the search again…

schemes get sourced, composed & deconstructed, then reconstructed from scratch in the time it takes to bat an eyelid! the process is not only intuitive, but a formulaic and an opportunistic one to boot… it’s as much about what is to hand & what is known to work as it is trying new & unknown materials… {observe your favourite designers and you’ll soon see patterns emerging where fabrics, furnishings and/or suppliers are used & reused repeatedly for different projects}

day seven: the mind is willing, but the body ain’t…

just when this week was going so swimmingly… and bham! i guess it was inevitable that with all the flying around like such a mad hen a migraine was sure to onset… and so it was!

despite my best efforts, what began with a dull drumming of the forehead upon awaking this morning progressively worsened throughout the day… 3 tablets & 9 hours later and i made it to 3pm before succumbing and limping home to take refuge on my couch… i know interns are meant to be superhuman and never get sick, but…

at least i didn’t succumb before i got to spend the latter part of the morning in my favourite part of the studio {the library} to sit in on another design masterclass with the head designer {these are my favourite moments in the week by far}… i try desperately to concentrate & absorb the goings on, furiously taking note of any key words uttered which might throw some enlightenment on the process or the progress of the design itself… i also scribble down any instructions that a raised eyebrow in my direction suggest are for me to action!

there’s a lot of reading between the lines & second guessing at this stage of the internship… i find myself just having to be resourceful, keep my ear to the ground and try and piece things together by gleaning snippets of information here & there… there’s not much time or opportunity to have a proper catch-up & ask many questions… and sometimes i think they forget that i’ve only been here a handful of days & consequently don’t know what the hell i’m actually doing… but i keep my head down, my eyes & ears open & my pen & paper at the ready!

day eight: suck it up sister…

bad day today… you know the kind…

i spent the day so desperately wanting to feel like i was becoming a part of the team, but ultimately feeling instead like a bit of a doormat… it never ceases to amaze me how some people treat ‘temporary’ team members {be they temps, contractors or, it would appear, interns}…

sometimes i just want to give people a good ol’ shake… every team member has something to contribute, regardless of their status, and if you only asked a few questions about someone’s interests & life story you may just discover a whole wealth of ways in which your temporary hire could improve your working day… think beyond getting them to do the complete skivvy work, you never know, they may just have some valuable skill sets to contribute!

rant over…

i spend the afternoon scanning inspirational imagery from a series of design books… the images are to be used in a brainstorming session for an upcoming pitch… i actually don’t really mind this task as it gives me a bit more insight into the head designer’s thought processes… whilst the selected imagery seems initially unrelated in content, once compiled together the result is a compelling design vision…

day nine: by jove, i think she’s got it!

a better day today, praise be! i’m off the scanner {to which i was beginning to think i was surgically attached} and today is pretty much dedicated to sourcing: hours & hours & hours spent scouring website after website for fixtures & furnishings… i confess i don’t quite have a handle on what it is exactly i’m looking for… the style seems quite loose & some of the previously sourced pieces by fellow team members seem so unrelated i find it hard to hone in on any one ‘look’…

but no time to procrastinate as this afternoon i’m pulled into an impromptu meeting to run through my finds and potentially allocate them to relevant rooms… because this particular residential project is so large, i find it easier to source general pieces that might work in various areas, rather than specific pieces for specific rooms…

in these initial design stages practical considerations like budget & dimensions don’t appear to matter… it’s a look & feel we’re going for at this time…

to my delight & surprise a good handful or so of the pieces i sourced are bang on & they go into the mix, ready to be put on boards for a further review process further up the design chain…

today feels like progress!

day ten: and strrrrrrrrike…

it’s another day of sourcing today… & it’s easy come, easy go… just when i thought i was finally ‘getting’ it with my selection progress, today proves me different…

again i’m utilising the internet and scouring websites for ‘found’ items… i rely on my gut instinct for most of this… so sometimes i find myself scrolling through dozens upon dozens of images wherein nothing jumps out at me… and then, like panning for gold, i find it… that elusive piece! all the time i’m conscious of mixing materials & shapes, colours & finishes… versatility is the name of this game… the more options i can come up with, the more chances of success!

but i’m missing the target more than hitting it… i think i have the computer equivalent of white line fever… i wonder if there’s ever time to source externally, pound the streets looking for one-off pieces or new finds, or is that a dinosaur in this day & age of design?

ho hum… at least it’s friday & that means team drinks… a big ol’ vino for me thanks!

image by tim walker via: coil house

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...