Monday, 2 November 2009

Reinventing the wheel

As an Interior Designer there are times when the object you are looking for is just not on the market. This is when our expertise in construction come in useful as we often have to design the piece of furniture ourselves.

This is part of my job I love the most. I get to work with artisans, craftsmen and work on one off custom objects. By working with these artisans you get a real understanding of the processes that go into producing pieces of furniture, the "tricks of the trade".

On a current project I am working on we were trying to source some swivelling bar stools. I found a beautiful stool but as it did not rotate, I have been working with the furniture company to adapt the design to include a swivel mechanism. As much as this might seem a simple task, it has meant this item has become a custom piece rather than a specified item. I have spent many hours and visits to the showroom to create this. What each designer has to think about is every hour you spend on something is money. You might have a budget per item but you have to factor in the cost of your time too.

You also have to think that this time is not wasted. The groundwork you do on these items will make life simpler- and less costly- when you come to specifying a similar item again as this groundwork will already be covered.

Photos from

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Inspiration of Architecture

Growing up as the daughter of an Architect, one of my fondest memories is of my Dad buying me my own hard hat and taking me to watch buildings being demolished and returning to see the construction of the new development. One family holidays, I would go off with my Dad and look at amazing buildings and we would talk "design". I loved these times spent one on one with my Dad and I do think it definitely played a large role in my desire to be apart of the architectural industry. It was the thought of 7 years of studying that put me off! But, with Interior Architecture becoming a better recognised profession, it seemed the perfect balance with Architecture and Design- and with quicker results!

My parents were amazing helping me- both emotionally and financially. They encouraged me to travel, carrying out work placements for various practices in Sydney and New York. I didn't realise how invaluable these experience would be when I graduated. It set me apart from other graduates, showed my dedication to design over many years and gave me vital experience in knowing how a design office operates.

In Sydney, I was working on show apartments and the "fluffy" side of Interior Design as it is technically called in the industry. It was my first insight into Interior Design and from then on, knew it was for me.

New York was amazing. I had the time of my life. The company I was working for predominantly did 5* hotels and I got to help out on lots of projects. But the main thing I got out of my time was New York was a love for hotel, restaurants and bars- design wise of course! I cannot deny I had an active social life over there and with only having 3 months there, I was determined to make the most of. I had a list of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to see- and I made sure I ticket every single one of them off! I drank martinis in the Hotel Gansevoort, ate lunch at The Boathouse, wondered around the Soho art galleries. It was my dream come true!

New job.....better standard of life

I was over the moon when I got offered the job- my first interview since redundancy- so was over the moon. Not only was it with a very well respected company in the industry, it was cycling distance from my house, shorter hours and working on projects around the world and better pay! It really was one of those cases of "everything happens for a reason".

Working within a small team, I soon settled in and was working on many exciting projects for what has turned out to be an even higher calibre of clients than the last company! Our team soon expanded yet again with one of the other ladies from my last company who was made redundant at exactly the same time joining us!

I can't even comprehend the improvement to me and my lifestyle! I can leave my house at 8.40am and be at work by 9, I actually get a lunch break and utilise it to go to the gym, and I actually can manage to work and have a social life at last!!!

Job Seekers line up

I was prepared for a long slog at finding a job in the market and set about signing up to every recruitment agent all of which said "its a tough market but with your experience I am confident we can find you something". Since I had no payout from the last job and only a weeks notice, it was tough. For most it would have been tougher. I was lucky to be in the position that I was living with my parents who were very supportive when I was out of work.

I decided to be utterly un-middle class and sign up to job seekers to get some much needed money- all of which was spent on updating my portfolio, cv and tube trips to meet with recruitment agents.

I sent out ridiculous numbers of CVs all around the world- I had nothing to tie me in London! I booked a flight to my family home in Italy and decided that, after the last few weeks ordeal, I needed a well earnt rest!

My home in Italy is my refuge. It's a beautiful old farmhouse in Umbria, set high up on a hill looking over the valley. Everyone comments how relaxed they feel as soon as they arrive there!

It was the much needed break I needed. I spent time making jams, chutneys, going for long walks and reading by the open fire. I can't say I didn't wish my redundancy had come in summer so I could be relaxing by the pool!!!

It was on my second day in Italy that I had a call from a recruitment agent saying I had an interview. I explained I was in Italy but told him I would change my flights and get back asap. I attended the interview which ended up being more like an informal chat with the Head of Design who could not have been nicer. We discussed suppliers, furniture design, joinery and the interview went on well over an hour. I was quietly confident but my pride had taken a battering and I did not want to prepare myself for another blow!

(our house in Italy is available for rental. Do get in contact if you are in need of a relaxing break!)

Redundancy hit

I still remember the day I was made redundant. We all thought we were safe, we were regularly brain washed in our company meetings about how well the was doing etc, our boss's flew by private jet everywhere they went, we head gleaming new office- why shouldn't I have believed them? We had even taken on another member within our team!

I was happily working away at my (clean- "only 3 things on your desk at one time, 1 mug or glass) and the phone went and I was asked to go down to see the head of HR in meeting room 6. I knew as soon as I walked in what was happening ' "we are really sorry but we are going to have to let you go due to the current economy" blah blah blah. I was so stunned I did not ask how this could be the case after they had only just taken on a new member of our team. I was instructed to go back to my desk and carry on as normal and not tell anyone what had just happened. Which is exactly what I did. I carried on as normal, working on my projects, and made my excuses that I had a doctors appointment and could not make the company meeting. that's when I realised, I was not alone. There were many others in my position- even some of the top dogs.

It wasn't until I came in the following morning that my team bosses came and spoke to me- they too had had no idea. They were so supportive, promised to help me with my CV, ask anyone they knew if they had any jobs going etc.

I carried on working my last week as hard as I had worked the months leading up to it, leaving at my normal time of 8pm. I was determined to prove to everyone what a good job I had done in my time there and leave no possibility for criticism once I had left.

My last day I spent a lot of time going to the ladies to dry my eyes, I was so gutted. No more so then when 6pm came and my team hadn't even got my a 'Good Luck" card. I realised there and then how cut throat the company was- everyone was out for themselves and they would do whatever they could to get ahead- even if it meant stamping on a few people along the way!

Graduation to 1st job

To many students graduation is a scary time. What do I want to do? Where do I want to live? Am I employable? And nothing more so at present with the economy in disarray!

For me, it was the part I had been looking forward to since day 1 at uni! I was eager to get
working within the industry I had been in love with all my life!

I graduated over a year ago and I was lucky that I landed a job with my "dream company" in London. Ok, it wasn't the £40k salary like my friends going into banking but it was doing what I love.

The company- famous for designing some of the most expensive real estate in the UK ( even the world) was set in the heart of London, I loved walking past Westminster and finally thinking "I have arrived". I was working on projects that were set to be the bets of the best in London. I loved my job, regardless of the long hours and gruelling workload. I was the smug girl who when everyone asked what I did I would happily tell them I was a designer on some of London's most sought after real estate but I could not divulge any information of clients or anything- I was bound by my contract that stated that if I did let slip any details I would be kicked right outof the company. I was loyal till the day everything I had loved over the p
ast 6 months came to an abrupt end...