How would you best describe your job?
My passion is design and I’m fortunate enough to do that for a living. My job as a lead interior designer is about working closely with clients and our design teams to craft compelling experiences and weave in storytelling through space - ultimately to deliver human-centric spaces that perform best for people. My studio at Gensler is focused on design for commercial workplaces, specifically for the ‘creative class’ client e.g. tech, media and consumer goods brands. I work with some incredibly talented people. It’s pretty fun!
Has your work changed much this year due to the pandemic?
There has been a phenomenal shift in our design work due to the pandemic itself. We’re doing a huge amount of future visioning work for our clients to help them explore what their future office might look like. Since working from home, many of us have discovered we can do task based individual focus work really well but team work productivity is not great and we’re missing the creative, collaborative working that the office provides us with.
What does your physical home working space set up look like?
My working space is also my living room and kitchen! My desk is our kitchen table – an industrial style mango wood table and bench set. I like working here because we have lovely views out over the river on one side and the dock on the other. Lots of natural light and water - I feel connected to the outdoors a little more. The rest of my setup is simply a laptop, my iPad and my phone (often surrounded by material samples!). It’s not the most ergonomic but it works for me as long as I get up and move around throughout the day. Plants, books and accessories are really important to me. My favourites are my Menu Carrie lamps and Knit Wit floor lamp by Made by Hand, a little Muuto vase, Tom Dixon candles and my Making Living Lovely book by 2LG Studio.
What does an average day look like for you?
I get up around 6am and make coffee for me and my boyfriend before he goes to work (he goes to his office most days). I take time for me to wake up properly and try my best to squeeze in a workout. Then I’m pretty much on my laptop for the entire day. I lead across multiple design projects at a time so calls can be pretty much back-to-back, connecting with the teams on design work and then presenting to clients. The Microsoft Teams fatigue is real..! My other role is to oversee our business development in Europe for our tech clients so staying connected across the industry is important to bring in new projects. I work a lot with offices globally, especially in the US so often calls can run well into the evening with the different time zones. By the end of the day I’m definitely ready for a glass of wine and to collapse on the sofa with my other half.
What’s the one piece of equipment you couldn’t work without?
My iPad. It completely revolutionised how I work and I use it constantly. Procreate is a great app that allows me to sketch floor plans and quick 3D’s of space as well as scribble mark-ups to communicate my design ideas to the team. I love to say the design process is ‘scrappy not crappy’ – clients want to see our thought process and progress work not polished presentations all the time.
What practices will you keep in your working life even post-pandemic?
I’d like to say wearing joggers for work but on a more serious note, it’s being more flexible with working patterns. I love having the option to work from home and having a more blended approach to work and life, but it’s also important to switch off. I’m actually pretty good at doing this.
Are there any rituals/ self care practices that have really helped you during this time?
With no longer having to commute to the office, I make sure I take time each morning to grab a coffee and check the latest news, messages or Instagram and call family. I discovered Pamela Reif and her quick HIIT workouts on Youtube at the start of lockdown and they’ve been a huge benefit. It means even if I just have 20 minutes to spare in a busy work day, I can squeeze some fitness in. I also started to call friends more instead of just messaging constantly which makes me feel more connected.
At what time of day do you feel most creative? Why?
Since working from home it’s early mornings. I have alone time where I can sit down and think before all the calls and messages begin for the day. Music really helps me too – Spotify is always on.
At what time of day do you concentrate the best? Why?
In my job I really have to be switched on and focused all day in order to keep things moving. By 6pm I’m usually suffering brain melt so I am not very useful after that.
What has been the biggest challenge of working from home?
It’s tough being stuck in the same spot all day, working in the same place you live. We are social creatures and need to interact in person. I, for one, need a change of scenery. Before COVID hit I was travelling a lot and my job was really social - I miss that. Life has done a 180 since March. I also think it’s been harder to carve out time to just be creative and do great design thinking.
What has been the best thing about it?
Proving that I can work from home and do my job - that means exciting things for the future. It frees me up to work much more flexibly, some days in the office, some days at home – the best of both worlds. I think it will enable a much better work life balance.
If you could use one word to describe this year for you, work-wise, what would it be?
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