Taylor Wilson – Washington State University
For my IIDA Student Mentor Week job visit, I got the pleasure of spending the day with Gwen Crane at Contract Design Associates in Spokane, WA. We I first arrived, we sat in one of the conference rooms where I got to tell her about my interest in design, what I like to do, and showed her some of my portfolio work. She then told me more about herself in her design career, what her company does, and chatted a bit with the owner, Bruce, who was a WSU Design graduate too! Gwen then walked me through their showroom, introducing me to the different types of system furniture that the company works with, discussing the different aspects and stages that go into the start to finish of a project. Walking throughout the showroom, the staff at CDA were very welcoming, and were willing to take a few minutes out of their day to show tell me about their experiences in the design field and what kinds of projects they were working on. I also reconnected with an employee whom I had previously met at an IIDA Coffee Connection event in February. It was awesome seeing a familiar face and what kind of work she was doing. Later in the day, Gwen and I went out to a job site where they were currently in the construction phase. The building interior was still under construction and I got to see systems furniture actually being put together in multiple phases. It was a great experience seeing the construction documents drawn and actually being put into a real life project. Going back to the office, Gwen walked me through the online Herman Miller site, showing me how to navigate it if I were to use their products in a future design. At the end of the day, I learned many things, and a great piece of advice was to find a place where you love your work and enjoy working. I was really glad I had the opportunity of participating in the IIDA Student Mentor Week, I found it to be very fun and a great learning experience.
Mieko Eyler – Bellevue College
For IIDA Mentorship Week I’m thankful for Kara, Suzanne, and all of the team at Callison, who spent their time working with me. The schedule Kara made for us was very educational. We started with introduction to Kara’s project team and their work. It was a big international project I have never seen. I am impressed that I know about how the process goes and how long it takes. I also appreciate that Kara let me sit in on a phone meeting.That was a good experience to know about what problems can occur and how to solve them. I also enjoyed the DRC tour and Knoll tours. The tours helped me understand how important material and physical experience is in a showroom to see space design. The portfolio review at the end of Mentorship was tremendously helpful to understand what I need to improve my portfolio. It was a great experience and fun day!
Valerie Hill – Bellevue College
“INVITATION. BELONGING. PLACE. These are just some of the experiences I encountered on my Wednesday of Student Mentor Week.
INVITATION. I was invited to accompany my mentor, Tanya Amri of Humanscale. I had met her once before, so it was a pleasure to reconnect with her and learn about her role as a manufacturer’s representative. She took me along to several of her appointments including oBJEKTS, in the SkB offices, meeting with Amy Rockwell. It was great to see Amy, as she is a BAA Design graduate from my school! While at SkB, we visited Tanya’s former co-worker Christy Bates, Account Manager at SkB. Next stop was EHS Architects. This was a quick update for the resource library. I had recently learned about EHS at PSCC’s 20/20 event, but now was a chance to see the office in person and get a feel for the office culture. Tanya’s contact there was a new employee, Beate Hohmann, another Interior Design graduate of Bellevue College.
BELONGING. My sense of belonging in the design field was enhanced by a welcoming group of women from JPC Architects. The surprise for me there was seeing one of my former classmates, now designer at JPC – Yalda Daneshfarnia. Along with Yalda, Tanya treated us to lunch with designer Cecilia Arroyo and Office Manager/Marketing Coordinator, Amanda Hyman. They spent time with me. I was able to ask questions and receive authentic answers. I was thrilled when one of the designers encouraged me to send my portfolio for her feedback.
PLACE. Thanks to my experience in Student Mentor Week, I look forward to my future place, yet to be discovered, in the design field. I don’t know where I will be working in one year, but I have confidence that I will find my place. My confidence in this comes from the many design professionals who have reached out to me and other students and given their time and encouragement.
I know this to be true: We all want an INVITATION and feel like we are seen. We all need to feel as if we BELONG and that we have value. We all need a PLACE to plant our roots. Thank you to the professionals who offer their invitation, time, and encouragement to students as we discover a sense of belonging and place.”
Miranda Saddler-Reisman – Bellevue College
“For IIDA Mentorship Week I had the pleasure of spending the day with Karen Rains and David Pratt of Design9 Group. Our day was spent visiting Pental and Duralee showrooms whom this duo works closely with to bring high quality contract materials to their clients. We continued our day with visits to ZGF, Gensler, Callison, and Urbanadd. I had an opportunity to get a glimpse of how the designers at these firms work with their reps to find the best possible material choices for their projects. Each visit to each firm reaffirmed how very important the relationship between rep and designer truly is. Visiting these firms was a wonderful opportunity to see projects in process and understand better how the daily functions of bringing a design to life works. My day with Design9 Group was informative, inspiring, and fun!”
Kendra Shea – Art Institute of Seattle
“For IIDA Mentorship Week I was lucky enough to be paired with Katie Mathweg, who works in Commercial Specifications & Sales for the Cronin Company. We had a full day getting a glimpse of many aspects of the Interior Design world, even though I was paired with a rep. We started off at Urbanadd taking a look at a small Architecture & Design Studio, meeting up with Stacey Crumbaker and her student. There we talked with Stacey about what it’s like to work at a small firm, some of their recent projects, took a look at their library, and talked about what Katie does as a rep. I learned what happens when she walks into a firm, solid surface (and countertop options in general) especially in commercial applications. Then we met up with Kirsten Solly, Wilsonart rep, and her student at Ross Display where Katie had set up a tour. There we got an inside look at how the displays for many brand name stores are fabricated. It was really neat to begin to understand what happens after we specify a design; how they order, efficiently appropriate, cut, shape, and laminate the raw material to create retail displays, cash wraps, tables and medical cabinetry applications. After a (delicious and informative) lunch at a nearby restaurant, we went to visit ZGF for a tour at a large firm with Gloria Cornell. We took a look at their (quite different) Sample Library, a glimpse into how they work and their process (super cool to see the things you learn in school in the real world), office layout and some of their current projects. A great contrast to the small firm of the morning. To end the day, we stopped by the warehouse, where deliveries come in after a product is ordered, and samples are stored. We also talked about the process of getting a product to the job site. My mentorship day opened my eyes to many of the moving parts of the field; from the Designer creating a concept to the guy who programs the CNC router’s precise cuts – an excellent learning experience!”
Teressa Manning Longmire-Bowdish – Bellevue College
“On Wednesday, as part of Student Mentorship Week, I got to spend the day with Suzanne Salandi and Kara Schmidt at Callison. I sat in on two different phone calls, toured Callison’s office, spent time in their research AND material libraries, learned some really interesting things about carpeting from their Masland carpet rep, and had a tasty and enlightening lunch with the other student mentees and their mentors. After lunch was a tour of the Knoll showroom with Vicki Rova Mueller. Back at Callison we talked with one of their Project Architects, Beth, and then heard from ChiaLing Khoo in their healthcare studio (she made healthcare sound sexy!) At the end of the day I got excellent advice on my portfolio and tips on making my class projects look more professional. This is my second year doing the Student Mentorship Week and the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the contacts I’ve made have been invaluable. Thank you to Suzanne and Kara for graciously giving their time and expertise. I can’t wait to do this again next year.”
Robyn Bridgman – IADT
“Yesterday I had the privilege to spend the day with Dru Jordan, A&D New Business Manager for BiNW. I could not have picked a better mentor if I had hand picked him myself! Our day was full with visiting Jayne Leighty, Project Manager, at BiNW, a phone interview with Matthew Gavette, Interior Designer, Holt Architects, coffee with Heather Nye, Designer, NBBJ, and lunch with Deborah Towner, Interior Designer, Burgess Design. I started the day 80% positive I was heading to a design career in high-end residential. I ended the day at 20%. My eyes are wide open to so many more possibilities. Thank you so much to Dru and his incredible ability to ask the right questions and introduce the right people. When can I sign up for next year?”