Tuesday, September 28, 2010


WANTED:  One outstanding opportunity

Wouldn’t it be great if you could post something like the title of this entry:  “Wanted:  One outstanding opportunity” and someone or something would actually contact you?  That would be so easy for a company to come looking for you - wouldn’t it?  Unfortunately, in this day and age that’s just not how it happens.  You have to kind of toss your net into the waves of jobs and see what it gathers.  Such is the case with me.
Who wouldn't want to work here?  Picture of Jay Jeffers Interior Design Office in San Fran, courtesy Coco+Kelley blog

Now for those of you who do not know me well, you may not know that there is a crazy busy side of me.  I mean a side that prefers to be busy more than anything else.  In the shipping/warehouse world, a company wants to make sure that the employees don’t have too much downtime in between packing boxes or else they lose a lot of productivity.  Now, I’m definitely NOT in the warehouse world (heaven forbid) but I do follow along those same lines of too much time = too much loss of productivity.  Blame it on my mid-west work ethic.  Blame it on my days with Andersen Consulting. Whatever the reason, I love to be busy! 

A few weeks ago, I saw an intern opportunity posted on my university’s website.  Now, I wasn’t looking for a job, mind you, since I have the best job in the world as mom to my two handsome boys and wife to my adoring hubbie BUT since I had recently updated my resume, I figured what the heck and submitted it with eyes closed.  The job sounded awesome and exactly like something that would provide invaluable experience to my fledgling career choice. The potential dream job.

                           Interior Design Intern - JOB ID# 16086
 Part-Time interior design intern to serve in a support role to our designers. The majority of our work is high-end residential and hospitality (restaurants). Candidates MUST BE: responsible and reliable, very organized, detail-oriented, excellent written and verbal communication skills, proficient in AutoCAD, proficient in MS Office Suite. Dallas, TX.

The firm contacted me for an interview and I couldn't believe it!  I went into research mode...or more like dream mode.   
So what is that is so unique about this position?  It involves working for a design firm in Dallas that does high end residential and hospitality projects.  The lead designer previously worked for Wilson&Associates (a premier design consulting group).  Recent works for the for include some high-end homes and restaurants in the Dallas area.

In my efforts to research the firm, which was minimal since it was so new,  I stumbled upon a recent restaurant article in which this firm was recognized.  Being that I love to eat and being that I love to go out without kids, I booked a reservation for hubbie and I at the aforementioned eating establishment.  The food was an absolute delicacy! Decor was tremendous AND we even got the chance to chat with Executive Chef Stephan Pyles.  Stephan Pyles - Texas legend!!  Chef Pyles was quick to compliment the interior design of the restaurant.  In fact, he loved it so much that he asked the designer to do his house!  Seriously?  Pinch me.

The Chef

The interview was formal and to the point, conducted by two ladies in their small studio off Knox/Henderson.  I was told off the bat that they normally don’t even consider someone like me with such little experience and a newbie in design school, but since I did have some experience I guess I wasn’t such a risk after all.  I was happy to have some work to show them and felt like I answered all of their questions to the best of my ability.  At one point, I even asked for input about my work and ways to improve.  (That must have been the sinker...)  As I walked out the door a short 25 minutes later, I wondered who would be getting the gig. 

I started wishing I had never seen the posting.  I was literally salivating once my heels hit the pavement outside their offices.  I WANTED THIS J-O-B! Apparently, so did everyone else in my field, including the one who got it.  

A week later, I was again left wondering why I had even applied for the internship.  No phone call, no email, no anything from the firm.  I thought I had won the lottery with this internship only to be told that my ticket was invalid.  My husband was getting sick of my lamenting.

Since I was convinced by this point in time that I was a design intern reject, I decided to stop whining and remind myself of some valuable lessons that I had learned through this process:

Get out there and keep trying  - You can only learn what they are looking for by getting out there and trying.  Since I know now what the expectations are in the design world, I had better keep at it.  If one of my attempts to get an internship works out, then I’d be in designer nirvana.  Because of this, I want to know even more what people are looking for and I’m even thinking of going to one of my instructors for advice.  Wisdom and relationships are golden.

Dress for success – I’m not kidding.  This was difficult for me (which is unusual) as I didn’t want to look like I was interviewing for an accounting position yet at the same time I did not want to send out the “just got back from the beach” vibe either.  Finding middle ground was difficult.  I borrowed a simple black White House Black Market dress and paired it with an oversize red bag that I used to carry my portfolio in as well as neccesities.  

The outfit

Bring your professional portfolio – I knew that the portfolio is vital to a design interview and so I made sure that I gathered as much info about my work as possible.  In the last semesters at school (which I am not a part of right now), the students gather work and files to show potential customers and employers.  This includes room renderings, deign layouts, etc.  Since I was pretty sure that they didn’t want to see the hand drawn drafting project that looked like my 2nd grader did it, I put together a word document highlighting my client’s work thus far.  I knew that it wasn’t stunning but I always had my delicious black dress and red bag! 

 My recent work for my friend Lisa

Photograph your work -   Oh, I wish I would have done this better!  Up until this point, my projects have been simple but there are several that I am was very proud of having done.  I spent little time documenting the progress and wished that I had some of the documentation at the interview.  Good cameras and good photographers are the key.  Thank you to my great friend Drew who spent the day re-shooting my friend’ media room for this interview.  The pictures turned out crisp and beautiful.  Thanks for lifting my spirits with your talent!

 By Drew, my photographer

It’s an Employer’s Market – All that talk about the bad economy…yes it’s affecting interior design too.    There are tons of people vying for interior design jobs - even the free ones.  There’s such a demand for jobs, the employers don’t even need to contact you about the status of the position.  I even saw one posting that stated “Only those applicants under consideration will be contacted.  If you are not contacted for this position, please accept our sincere thanks and appreciation for your interest!  PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE STORE OR DESIGN FIRM!”
      Be Patient – The perfect job is out there given enough time pursuing it.  I’ve proven I can get the interview.  So, I’ve decided not to waste my time applying for those positions that don’t knock my socks off (unless in your case, you have to pay the bills).  Working something that isn’t a dream for me at this point would be detrimental to my family and school.   I want to love my job and I need to show some patience.  (Funny how patience is my weakness and yet it was one of the questions that came up in the interview....)

When you think that something just wasn’t meant to be, don’t get discouraged!  It’s ok.  There is something better around the corner. Until the day comes that we are able to post an opening for ourselves and be contacted by someone with the perfect position, we have to keep trying!


Update to interview:  After over a week of not hearing anything, the firm contacted me with enormous news --- I got the job!  Can you believe it?!?  I am thrilled to be heading out in my new direction and looking forward to the day when I can look back on all this and smile.  Wish me luck!  

Floating, C

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Charley Harper

I’m in my last week of Quarter II and it’s going very well thank you!  In addition to completing my 7 page hand drafted floor plan and my History of Furniture & Architecture notebook, I’m busy is with my 2D final project. 

With 2 Dimensional Design, I’ve been asked to choose an artist and a company to write about.  Final project:  create an ad for that company pretending you are the artist.  After reviewing the list of artist options, I immediately chose Charley Harper.  His drawings grabbed me immediately.  Who is Charley Harper, you ask?

Born in August 1922, Charley Harper was a Cincinnati- based American Modernist artist.  He was best known for his highly stylized wildlife prints and poster and book illustrations.

Harper grew up on his family farm in Frenchtown, West Virginia.  This has a huge influence on his work.  He later left his farm to study art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and won the academy’s first Stephen H. Wilder Traveling Scholarship, which allowed him to travel the country.  He married fellow artist Edie McKee shortly after graduation.  They later formed Harper Studios.

During his career, he illustrated numerous books including The Golden Book of Biology and Charley Harper’s Birds and Words.  He also illustrated in magazines such as the Ford Times and completed many prints, posters and other works.  His subjects were usually natural - mostly birds with prominent features.  Charley created work for many nature-based organizations, including the National Park Service, Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Nature Center, Hamilton County (Ohio) Park District and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania.

Harper refers to his style as “minimal realism” - a spare, geometrical style. He tried to capture the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible visual elements.  He writes, “When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings.  I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures.  I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of the painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create a order universe.”  The artist’s playful style combines straight and curved lines and flat areas of carefully selected colors.

Image from http://day-lab.blogspot.com/2007/11/ford-times-charley-harper.html

Fashion designer Todd Oldham, a bold color fixture since the 1990s, happened to run across an old Ford Motor company magazine in 2001.   “I couldn’t figure out why my hands were zombie to this thing … I bought the (magazine) and then looked up Charley Harper.  Didn’t know who the guys was, but oh my God, what a genius!”  Oldham later visited Harper and together they collaborated on the book, Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, just completed several weeks before Harper’s death.  Oldham writes of Harper, “Charley’s inspired yet accurate color sense is undeniable, and when combined with the precision he exacts on rendering only the most important details, one is always left with a sense of awe.”

I couldn’t agree more.  As an interior designer, I was taken by the use of color and shape Harper uses.  The colors blend and are very harmonious and could easily be worked into a room as a print, fabric or even a wall covering.  I love his use of tiny line weights that give great texture and detail to his work, yet at the same time keep the final product simple.  I also could envision his work appearing on dinnerware (which has been already done once), on placemats and napkins, towels and other types of home goods.   The prints would work well in a kids room or office.   I could even see it work on the cover of the annual Neiman Marcus (the company I have chose) catalog as it has wide appeal and is very pleasing to the eye.  Overall, I concur with Oldham; Charley Harper is brilliant, and I love his work – I only wish there was more to come.    

Charley Harper died on Sunday, June 10, 2007 after a battle with pneumonia. His works can still be purchased on his website and on Amazon and eBay, of course. 

And with that, I’m off to finish my Charley Harper Neiman Marcus catalog cover…hopefully it will get me an A.

Love, C

P.S.  Many of you have heard of FLOR...the rug that comes in modular squares to fit your room perfectly.  Check out this free giveaway on La Dolce Vita, one of my favorite blogs!  And be sure to let me know if you win.  :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Room of Their Own

A few years ago, there was a very popular design book called “A Room of Her Own.”  The premise of the book if that the lady of the house should have a room where she can relax and unwind -- one that feeds her soul that belongs only to her.  Sounds yummy. right?  I agree and wish many times that I had a good girlie room in my house (the office is as close as I get to that...)  However, recently my family and I discovered that one of the special families in our lives does not have a place to live.  There is not even the thought of anyone (much less the lady of the house) having a room of their own.  This is a luxury that no one in this family had ever experienced.  A little background....

Last year, my husband began mentoring a 5th grade boy named Dejoure from south Dallas.  Very quickly my hubbie discovered that there was a little brother named Dejuan who always had his big brother’s back.  It wasn’t too long before my husband was mentoring both Dejoure and Dejuan on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school.  Being employed downtown by a very supportive company, my husband found that mentoring both boys worked out very well for all of them.

The relationship between all of them grew and eventually the boys would come to our home in the suburbs to hang out and eat.  After a few visits, we realized that Dejuan and Dejoure did not have beds to sleep in at night.  The word “eviction” was even mentioned a couple of times.  The thought of these kids not having a roof over their heads was too much for us to bear.  We met with their mom and her boyfriend and decided to help them get back on track.  Updated drivers licenses, jobs and finding a home were top on the list.  Eventually, we secured a rental house and even managed to help them with several months rent.  All of that was possible with the rallying of our friends and neighbors through donations of money as well as supplies for the new house.

Adrian, Dejuan, Dejoure and Shantayla….

Two weeks ago we loaded up the truck, called the movers, scheduled appliance delivery and took a boatload of friends to help us move this sweet family into their new house.  I’m not sure that my professors ever imagined me working with whatever happens to be donated or sometimes nothing at all to make a house a home.    Believe it or not ..... it all came together beautifully!

We came away with everything (money and items) for me to furnish the new digs. Donations for new appliances, clothing, furniture, food and cleaning items all poured into my garage at the request of my constant barage of emails flying through the airways.  This family was truly excited to be a part of this little bit of kindness --- and it was a giagantic surprise for them to see all of it flooding into their new home. This was quite a different “interior design project.”
Our moving team….

It was both a shock and a thrill to see all 25 plus of us descend on the new neighborhood on moving day.  Except for a few boxes and a couple of pillows, the house was completely empty. The family had no idea that we were going to be doing this for them, so you can imagine their delight!  Every one of the “movers” (aka friends) were assigned a room and a task to accomplish.  Believe it or not, it was all done in 2 hours and looked pretty darn great!
The original bunk beds that started this whole move thing with Dejuan -- his very first room of his own!
Adrian (man of the house) in the entry way.  Matching couches from my neighbor, drapes from a co-worker, coffee tables from friends and even a lamp and books completed the room.
Shantayla (mom) in the new master bedroom.  Matching bedding, blinds and curtains…and frankly it works with the renter red carpeting to some degree.
Dejoure in the second bedroom, with his own set of bunks bed…and the first time for a room of his own.
Implementations are not at all unusual in my business.  However, the one that I did last week might rank as the most influential of my career.  This one held none of the glamour and glitz of your typical design implementation.  This one was completely from the heart to the heart. Forget the usual fancy lighting,  the couch on special order,  or the paint color that had to be perfect.  This wasn’t even close to that….yet so much more.  I’m thankful for the already there red carpet, for the donated furniture and for a roof over their heads.  I am thankful that my husband took the chance to get involved in some kids’ lives.

Towards the end of the hot and steamy day (did I mention that it was over a 100 that weekend?), I was snapping a few pictures with no particular reason.  I went back into Dejoure’s room and he was in there with my son Ethan.  Dejoure wanted me to wait before taking picture of his room because he wanted to make sure that everything was put away nice and neat after playing with Ethan.  (How cute is that???)  I couldn’t resist giving him a giant hug.  He was so excited and said, “This is the best place I have ever lived in.”  I was done,  Finished.  Teary-eyed.  This was all I needed to hear.  The best installation ever.
I know exactly why this one ranks as the best. Sometimes it’s not about the implementation for someone who is paying you but about the implementation for the ones that can never give back to you.  Dejoure and Dejuan will probably never be able to repay the kindness that they and their family have received this last few week.  Yet that doesn’t matter.  It’s about all the parts giving in their own unique way to accomplish the task at hand.  The Bible calls this true religion - to give to those who can never repay you and also states in I Corinthians 12 that all parts of the body are important with none being more important than the other.  In particular, I Corinthians 12:6 “God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”  In other words, perfection through imperfection.

So although to many the new home for Dejuan and Dejoure’s family doesn’t seem luxurious, the fact is that now they each have a room of their own.  A place where each can go to think and relax -- to feed their souls and also refuel from the outside world.  Congratulations to our friends on their new home and congrats to all of you who reached out in love!  They finally do have a place to call their own and it is good -- really, really good.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What I'm lovin' now...

“Buh,duh,duh,duh duh….I’m lovin it”  Made famous by Justin Timberlake and also a really catchy Mickey D’s commercial, this ditty completely captures the essence of what I am craving in design this moment.  Sure, there’s a lot on my plate with: classes, kids, husband, friends, studies, projects, dinners, breakfasts --- you get the picture.  But nothing, and I mean nothing, clears my mind as quickly as hopping between the sheets and digesting all of my new design catalogs and magazines. I create a whole ambience for myself with candles and a glass of wine.  Some might call it pitiful, I call it sheer pleasure!

So what are these little bits of heaven that I am totally lovin’ right now?  What’s satisfying my cravings, you ask?  Here are the top 5 that feed the need this moment:

This is one of those fixtures that is hard to get out of my minds’ eye --- one that I always keep in my back pocket as a “go-to” light.  The styling is wonderfully simple yet completely transfixing.  I wish I had a girls room to put this in right now.  But since that’s not the case, I will have to settle for my home office.  This terrific nugget will gladly replace the boring white ceiling fan.  Perfect!

Gleaming black piano lacquer finish and circular pulls make this treasure lovely.  Maybe it’s that I just finished studying the Art Deco period with it’s high skyscraper styling or if I just dig black but this chest calls to me.

Between the greek pattern and the color, I am guessing that these window treatments were named after Kelly Wearstler’s Viceroy Hotel.  For those fellow “Wearstler-ites” these drapes perfectly capture her essence.  They would work  seamlessly in my dining room but that is a projected completion date of 2012 at the earliest….

Speaking of dining room re-do, a pair these shapely lamps would really add some pizzazz to my room.  It’s so easy to picture these as a pair on the buffet.

But wait!  Just last night I found these on sale at ZGallerie.  And I ordered them for my buffet.  Budget friendly!

Good ol’ Louis XVI never knew that his decorating style would extend into the 21st century but it rocks!  Not only does this look at home in a contemporary room but also with a myriad of other styles.

Although these are 5 extremely safe choices to begin your decorating (or even re-decorating) of your pad, these are only a sampling of what it available.  What I will be “lovin” next month, who knows!  But this is fast becoming a habit that I simply can’t get enough of – wine, candles, magazines and all.  So for now, I’ll have to stick to my intense schedule while dreaming from afar.

Until next week,