Thrown in at the deep end...and I survived!
Thrown in at the deep end...and I survived!
13 June 2018

Approaching my final year as an Honours Student of Interior and Spatial Design at Edinburgh Napier University, I knew that gaining work experience this summer would be invaluable. I was craving real hands-on experience with a design agency to put my studies into context and also as a brilliant boost for starting my 4th year. Would I even like the work? And was I even remotely equipped for it?

I hit gold when Graham Black of the University of the West of Scotland introduced me to Hugh Anderson and the team at haa design and they agreed to take me on and put me through a few paces! On day one I was both nervous and excited, but the team could not have been more open minded, helpful or welcoming.

Now that my time at haa is coming to an end I’d like to share a little of what I have learned in the past 7 weeks!

Open-minded collaboration
These guys are so open-minded about everything which creates a great all-round atmosphere for collaborating, learning and creating. Doing the best they possibly can for their clients is at the heart of everything they do and has been a really positive focus to me to absorb. I have also learnt that this doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work, talent and meetings!

In at the deep end
On day one Hugh gave me the opportunity to work on a key project and get real hands-on experience as part of my time with the team. I joined Petra to do a site survey at the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission offices in Glasgow and came back armed with materials I would need to get started on developing my design scheme. After bouncing some ideas around, I was encouraged to get to it – scary but exciting!

My ideas and plans emerged over the next few weeks as I built on my CAD skills and developed my drawings and spatial plan. A key issue for the client was the need for the space to be bright, contemporary and support good inter-team communication but also allow for peace, privacy and confidentiality. I came up with a concept that played around with different ways of designing a single or double person office space that was flexible and wasn’t fully enclosed to help promote communication and collaboration but that still had quiet pockets to allow for the essential privacy component the client had specified. Allowing natural light flow was at the heart of my idea to create a contemporary feel. I had visited the Clerkenwell Design Week Show in London during my time at haa (an amazing experience and a real eye opener to cutting edge products – my everlasting thanks to Jack Robertson of 3Fold for hosting me and sharing some of his knowledge) and was able to introduce some of the products, fabrics and colour schemes I had seen there to great effect.

Pushing the boundaries
Presenting my concepts was a bit scary, (I always get nervous) – but the positive and constructive feedback was really helpful and rewarding. The team showed me that it is always good to listen to the client, understand their needs then push boundaries and exceed expectations. As a fly on the wall at several brain storming sessions, I realised that no idea is too far off-base and to have the courage to speak up and offer a fresh perspective is inspiring.

Working in the right environment can be so rewarding
The days and weeks of my work experience have flown past. It seems that everyone at haa design has a passion for their work and what they create for their clients. It’s a relaxed environment, but they get things done. That is so powerful. I have so enjoyed my 7 weeks and learnt more than I could possibly have imagined!

Thank you.

Cate Lonergan

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