Friday, September 30, 2011

Team Dynamics

I was recently involved in a group project and now that it’s over I am happy. However, I realize that working in groups is something that I will be doing for a large majority of my career. I don’t mind groups, in fact I actually like them, but what I don’t understand is why it is so hard for people to work together in a team? We have be working in groups and doing team projects since we were little kids, yet very few people really understand how to be a "team player". There are those who are too pushy and then you have that person who could care less and will just do enough to get by. One of my biggest fears is to work for a firm where the people don't work well together and the team dynamics are poor. It's so important to understand how to work in a group environment especially if your job profession will require it.
         I can recall several times how I felt when I was working in groups that were in utter chaos. I was so frustrated and didn't even want to participate. Inconsiderate people annoy me, especially those who think that only their ideas are important and worth discussing. I have been involved in various organizations and have had ample time to see myself in action.
Typically I am the one who initiates things and get the ball rolling, but I make a conscious effort to include everyone and make sure we are all on the same page. I believe everyone’s thoughts are important, no matter how big or small and I like for everyone to feel included. This is important when working with other people.
Even though working in teams can be frustrating, when you have a great team they can be very beneficial. More resources are available and groups are able to complete larger scale projects. Groups work also leads to more diverse solutions. Two heads are better than one! Another plus to working in groups is that it’s easier to detect flaws and catch mistakes. What you may miss, someone else might see. Groups and teams also provide an even greater understanding of what needs to be done. Everyone will have their interpretation of what needs to be done and how to do it, but if you put them all together you can learn more from listening to other peoples perspectives and then apply what works best. It is also a great way to hone communication skills. Discussions and active listening aid to the success of being a better communicator.
All in all, like I said, working in groups doesn’t have to have such a negative connotation if everyone would be mindful that it’s a group and everyone has a voice. Everyone has ideas and they should be taken into consideration.

Working 9 to 5

Sorry it’s been awhile since our last convo. I’ve been so busy with classes and wrapped up in my programming document and trying to redefine my portfolio. While trying to get everything together for school and prepare for graduation I am slightly overwhelmed and nervous about what’s next. Every now and then the reality that I am really about to graduate and start my life hits me in the stomach. No more long nights in the studio working on projects and no more Spanish classes. It is finally about to happen, I’m graduating. Only 75 more days left before I enter the “real world”. I’m excited because it’s been a long time coming, but I’m anxious because I still have some things to figure out. Every time I think about it my stomach turns a little. It’s a bitter sweet feeling. I know I am mentally prepared and I am ready to embark on this adventure, but I am apprehensive about things like: Where am I going to live? Where am I going to work? Will I like my job? These are the thoughts that I am excited and nervous about. I realize these feelings are completely normal and just about every graduate feels like this at one point or another so that makes me feel a little better.
I know I can and will succeed as an interior designer but first things first. I must find a job. I really want to move to NYC and experience the fast pace life. “They say” if you can make it there, then you can make it anywhere, so that’s exactly what I plan to do. Initially living in the big apple might be a bit much for me, but I know I will be just fine. Well at least after I land my first job.
Like I said, I have been thinking about this a lot lately and one of the reoccurring thoughts that I can’t escape is how are my interviews going to be? So to help myself out I decided to answer a couple questions that I am sure to help me during the process.

Question #1: What are you able to do? (What can you bring to the table?)
Bottom line, I understand that Interior Design firms are concerned with getting work completed in a timely matter and getting it to clients. With that being said, I can demonstrate that I have great technical skills and interpersonal skills. I am more than comfortable using programs such as AutoCAD and Revit Architecture. I am able to create detailed floor plans, elevations/sections, and other plans such as electrical or RCPs. If you need a plan hand drafted and rendered for a specific type of client, I can do that as well.
Other attributes that I bring to the table are excellent moral and ethical character, a positive and outgoing personality, great work ethic, and a great sense of what it means to be professional and work well in a team environment.  I also have good time management and communication skills. These are essential skills that every interior designer should possess, which is the reason why I got involved in various organizations. Being a part of those organizations enabled me to get to know myself better as a leader and a team player. I learned my strengths and weaknesses and was able to work on them.
Question #2: What are you willing to do? (What are you willing to sacrifice?)
In all honesty I have been realistic in my expectations and I realize that as an entry level designer there are things that I may have to do that I don’t want. However, with that being said, I am willing to do whatever is needed to get the job done. I don’t mind working in the library filing samples or spending time working on specifications. In the end, it is going to make e a better designer and knowledgeable about interior design. Ultimately, I want to learn and be exposed to various aspects of design and business management. I have great presentation and listening skills and I am also able to clearly convey my thoughts and present them to other professionals and clients alike. Most importantly designers are problem solvers.
In my senior thesis class we had the opportunity to work with a real client and design an outdoor kitchen and pool. I really enjoyed having the dialogue with the client to discover their likes and dislikes and exactly what they wanted to gain from the project. In the end, my presentation had a personal touch to it. I was able to present to the client and explain to them the design decisions made and they understood everything. At the end of the presentation they didn’t have any questions because I thoroughly covered it all. Being able to talk about the problem, my design concepts and come up with creative ways to solve it are skills that are priceless.

Question #3: What do you want to do? (What about design gives you personal satisfaction?)
                What do I want to do?! I want to learn and absorb as much information about interior design as I possibly can. I am still discovering myself as a designer so gaining exposure to the industry in every aspect is what I want. My dream job would be one that allows me to travel to other states and various countries as a PM or in another position. I want to travel and gain exposure to different cultures and their styles of design. I really enjoy design because it is personal, for me and for the client. Whether in residential or hospitality it is making a direct impact on those who will use the created space. It gives me satisfaction to know that I will be able to touch the lives of others through my creativity.
                The part I like most about design is the schematic phase. Developing different ideas and testing them to see which ones work best is challenging, but also very rewarding when I have it figured out. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, so I try to find those other ways.  I am also interested in sustainability, so I want to be able to work with a firm that shares that same concern.        
                My firm of choice to work for would be an international hospitality design firm that designs hotels, restaurants, bars, lounges, and retail all over the world. Like I said, I want to travel and I want to design. Who says I can’t have my cake and eat it to?!
Now after completing this exercise I feel less anxious about what’s next and ready to embrace it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A little Light

If you need a new task lamp for your desk at home or at the office I have the lamp for you! The Tolomeo table base lamp from Hive Modern. It’s super cool and I can definitely see this lamp being on my desk at work.  It is made from extruded aluminum and knobs in polished die-cast aluminum and tension cables in stainless steel. Don’tcha just love it?! Plus it comes in 5 different colors but this is my favorite.

            Aside from the aesthetics most importantly it’s practical. It is fully adjustable and has direct lighting. This lamp could be used in any desk rather at home or at the office. It has that ability depending on what color you choose. 
When I look at this lamp I see two distinct elements of design. Line and shape are emphasized in the design of this lamp. I can see a continuous movement in lamp that reminds me of a line, while at the same time the shape is defined and stands out from the space around it. Although it’s thin it doesn’t just blend in or look too plain to me. It has its own unique interest and style. Now I can’t mention the elements and not give a shout out to the principles. I know it’s a bit geeky to think about the principles and elements of design, but they really are important and every great designer knows this. Balance is the obvious principle to me because without it “literally” it wouldn’t stand up, but figuratively speaking it does possess balance in the sense that it’s proportionate and the size of the base compliments the lamp. It also has some visual rhythm going on. When I look at it it’s not obtrusive or a strain on the eyes. There can be great contrast with the lamp depending on what type of accessories are place around it.
This lamp reflects my personality and can even speak about the type of firm I want to work for. Unique and stylish, yet not too flashy, like my design taste. I like modern design with a twist of historical influence. Before I did my internship this summer at Allen Saunders Inc. in Miami, Fl, I thought I liked more traditional design, but being there showed me that I can have my cake and eat it too and have the best of both worlds. Ultimately I want to work for an international firm that does a little bit of everything. Traveling and being exposed to different cultures while working would be the perfect job for me. An environment with people that have a sincere appreciation for design and put forth their best efforts and work together as a team (like the lamp) would be ideal. I know I have the potential to become an excellent project manager one day and I would like to do so. Currently I enjoy hospitality and residential, but I don’t want to limit myself to just those two. I want to gain exposure to various types of design. The more the merrier. Why not?!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A working progress....

When I tell people I’m in school getting a degree to become an interior designer, many people (adults and young people) respond saying, “Oh, how cool, I wish I was doing what you’re looks so fun.” Or, “I like decorating my room n stuff; you should come over and take a look!” Or, “Hmm we should have you over and come give us some decorating tips, my house could sure use it.” So - I thought it’d be fun to share with you my main concerns that I try to educate people on daily. These are the two most common misconceptions about being an interior designer that I have encountered. Enjoy!

Myth #1:  An interior designer is the same as an interior decorator.   
Reality:  It is not necessary for an interior decorator to receive formal training to do the job because they focus mainly on the aesthetic and are not concerned things such as building exteriors or structures, however interior designer are. Interior designers are distinguished because they must go through formal educational training at a university and obtain a bachelor’s degree which provide them with the foundation and understanding of architectural plans, safety, building codes, and proper selection of materials and fabrics.  After graduating one must go through another process to become a licensed Interior Designer.  

Myth #2.  Designers sit around and play with fabric all day and fluff pillows.
Reality: I wish! Lol, not!! Designers do a whole lot more than that, and it’s sad and frustrating that people don’t realize it. According to the bureau of labor statistics an Interior Designer draw upon many disciplines to enhance the function, safety, and aesthetics of interior spaces. Their main concerns are with how different colors, textures, furniture, lighting, and space work together to meet the needs of a building's occupants (client). Designers plan interior spaces of every type of building, including offices, airport terminals, theaters, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and private residences. Good design can boost office productivity, increase sales, attract a more affluent clientele, provide a more relaxing hospital stay, or increase a building's market value.
            See, I told you there’s a lot more to it than what meets the eye. I will continue on my quest to educate those around me about the profession because I want everyone to know and understand who we are and what we do.

Design Icons

What do these two pictures have in common?
You probably guessed it; yep they both have on the same circular glasses. That was the first thing I noticed about these two.  If you don’t know who they are then I’m about to tell you. Iris Apfel (left), designer and American Icon and Chip Kidd (right), an exceptionally talented graphic artist.
Iris Apfel is a fashionista with a lot of flare, style, and design sense. She is an American fashion and style icon. Her style is daring and bold. Just look at some of these pictures and they explain it all.

Lovin' the glasses


Iris' lovely home that she designed

Her hallway
                 She loves to dress up and if she likes it she’s buying it. She has a gift for going to junkyards and flea markets and unburying treasure that others would consider trash until they see what she can do with it. She’s no minimalist by a long shot, but her over the top approach to fashion simply works! There was an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute of her colorful and highly accessorized wardrobe. It was entitled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. At age 88 she is still young and vibrant, she refers to herself as a “geriatric starlet”, but dress for her is just one of the ways she creatively expresses herself. She is also an Interior Designer and recently released her own jewelry line. She is awesome and I love her funky style!
                Now Chip Kidd, he too has his own design style but expresses it with a different type of medium. He is the associate art director at Knopf, a publishing house, where he has been designing one of kind book wrappers since the late ‘80s. Some of his works that he is best known for are the cover of Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel Jurassic Park and the cover of Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men”. His fun, creepy, sly, and unpredictable covers have taken book design to another level and his design is a work of art. He has even written a couple books himself, "The Cheese Men." Here are some examples of his book cover designs.
Cover for book "No Country for Old Men"

He loves comic books and has designer covers
 for just about all of them.
Cover of the popular book "Jurassic Park"
His book "The Cheese Monkeys

        Both Iris and Chip are unique in their own sense, but I am especially fond of Iris Apfel. Not because she is an interior designer, but because she truly appreciates and understands what it means to be creative and daring and to go beyond and step outside of the box. I like that she owns her style and embraces it with boldness, meanwhile Chip is passive and downplays the importance of the cover design. I wonder what it would be like to spend an entire day shopping with her. I know that I can definitely learn a thing or two from her. She has already impacted my design aesthetic.  There is nothing wrong with embracing colors and being yourself (no matter who likes it or not). Being comfortable in “the skin” I am in as a designer is the biggest lesson I have taken away from learning about her. I often get caught up in comparing myself to others, but she has inspired me to embrace me and whatever else that means. In my opinion she deserves to be considered an American Icon because she is a perfect example of self-expression and living life to the fullest. Being creative and artistic doesn’t look a certain way; it is whatever you want it to be. Now go forth and do great things!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Design Philosphy

Ok people let’s get deep for one moment. Think about it. Every designer has an awareness of their design style and approach. We all think about it, but some of us never write these thought on paper. In case you are lost I am referring to a design philosophy. You know. What is your attitude about design? What do you want to achieve through your design? Why do you even like design? Etc. etc. etc.…. Well I thought about it and I decided it is finally time to put it all down on paper. So here is my personal design philosophy.
                Designers are presented with the unique opportunity to redefine and create remarkable interiors. But what’s most interesting is the ability to be creative and think outside the box. For the designer this is perfectly acceptable (as long as it’s safe and functional). Interior design is a service profession to be practiced by caring individuals who value the needs of others. Good design reflects the needs and wants of the client and understands and appreciates their needs as well.
It’s a satisfying feeling to know that as a designer, the interiors created are something tangible that will impact the lives of other, yet realizing that design is bigger than you or me, it’s global. We should have an appreciation for other cultures and embrace the diversity each one brings. I am fascinated with other cultures and it’s fun to try to understand the world from someone else’s perspective. The world is forever changing and society is always reinventing itself, but it’s important not to get caught up in fads and trends because they don’t last long and ultimately neither will the design. Design should possess a timeless quality that can transcend expectations and leave an environmentally friendly footprint. Mother Earth’s resources are depleting and that’s why it’s important to practice sustainability. While meeting the needs of the client a designer needs to think about the efficient proper use of materials and their effects on the environment. Ethical practices are as important in the area of design as in other professional disciplines.
By nature I am very inquisitive and I am not afraid to ask questions or say I don’t know. What’s great about that is that I am always learning and looking for ways to gain more exposure to the field. As I continue my quest for knowledge I know that there will be obstacles to overcome and hurdles to jump over but that’s part of the exploration! My education, technical knowledge, and my own intuition are key components that will definitely help me be able to enter the design field as a competent, confident designer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baby steps

“Design is a learning experience. So my agenda is to figure out what I want to learn next.”
Ayse Birsel, Industrial Designer and President

This statement sums up exactly where I am right now. I am learning and growing and continuing to expose myself to as many things as possible. This is my final semester in college and so far I have been exposed to a lot of different areas of design, but for my thesis project I decided to delve into the world of institutional design. I am designing a space for at-risk youths ages 13-18 who are in crisis and consider “at-risk teens”. The shelter will provide short-term housing along with a healing and rehabilitating environment. Therapeutic interventions such as Play Therapy, Music Therapy, and Art Therapy are some unconventional methods as outlets which enable people to heal, change, and grow. Well my focus for this will be culinary therapy that will be incorporated in the treatment that the teens will receive.  There will also be a cafĂ© which will be operated by the teens and staff and will be open to the public.
            The research for this project has been very interesting and tedious. The impact of color and the discovery of the user/client needs has been an adventure. I am excited to learn more about healthcare design and who knows, maybe it might open a door for my future. I enjoy learning about different types of design and methods. I will never stop learning even when I leave the “classroom”. After this, what’s next!? Maybe yacht design!!

“WTF (What the font?!”)

It’s about that time….. I have begun the process of reorganizing and structuring my portfolio and boy what a task. So the first thing I thought about is color, and after that I immediately thought about what font to choose. There are so many fonts to choose from and I have had a hard time deciding which fonts will be the best reflection of my personality and design style. I am getting a degree in interior design, not graphic design so with that being said I had to do some homework. I spent some time looking for information in a few of my textbooks and online about portfolio design and geez I didn’t realize how crucial it is to make sure you pick the right ones. I know font’s important and it needs to be legible but I must say, I am a little smarter now! I didn’t know there were different typeface categories: Oldstyle, Modern, Slab Serif, San Serif, Fringe, Script, and Decorative. Serif fonts generally have a thick/thin contrast in their structures whereas san serif fonts are mono weight.
 I selected three fonts, two serifs and one from the sans serif family. This will allows for a nice contrast. Sans serif fonts tend to strain the eye so the most appropriate way to use this is for titles, headings, and short passages. So I chose Gotham and Rotis fonts to be used interchangeably for my headings and quotes and I chose Didot for my text. I think these three fonts are meaningful to my style and personality.  Gotham is sophisticated with clean lines and Rotis is funky and looks good in a large font. I chose Didot for my body of text because it looks modern and dramatic. These are a reflection of how I want my design to be perceived. I have been on the hunt to discover who I am as a designer and what my design aesthetic is and I have come to realize that I am eclectic. I like these shades of blue, green, and yellow.  I like to mix and mingle with them all!!!

Here are a few helpful hints that I learned from my readings:
·         Look for typefaces that look good together and try mixing serif and sans serif faces that relate to each other.
·         A clear differentiation between all the elements of type this is achieved by creating contrast through the relative relationships of size, weight, structure, form, direction, and color. A reader should never have to try to figure out what is happening on the page.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Color My World

     I was looking at the pantone color forecast 2012 selection and I wasn't too impressed. I liked some of the colors but they weren't vibrant enough for me I love green and I only saw two colors with a hint of green. But as I looked at them again I began to see a couple colors that spoke to me. These colors are a little subdued but I like them. Rasberry Pantone 18-1754, Bamboo Pantone 14-0740, and Blue Moon Pantone 17-4328. I could see myself using these colors in a section of my portfolio for the background.