Tate Date

Although my interests have largely shifted from art to design in the last few years I still have a deep appreciation for art, plus I now only live a stone’s throw away from the Tate Modern so it seemed rude not to visit.

As a follow on from my confession that my head has in fact been turned by design (sorry Mrs Gately) I feel I should talk briefly about the building itself. The gallery is housed in a disused power station that, before being transformed into the Tate by architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Herzog & de Meuron in 1995, was teetering on the edge of demolition. The building has since undergone many further developments but all the original industrious charm of the station was kept in tact – thankfully.

Naturally one of my great loves still remains to be photography, so a combination of photography and industrial steel work had me leaning over the rope to get a closer look.

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Needless to say, I had a really amazing day walking around the Tate, almost rekindling my love for art. And on a stroke of luck, I had the best company, a fellow art lover, which meant that not only could we look at but also discuss the art together. It’s a very nice feeling when you say ‘I like that.’ and someone asks you ‘Why?’ because they’re genuinely interested in what you like about it.

It’s a very nice feeling when you say ‘I like that.’ and someone asks you ‘Why?’ because they’re genuinely interested in what you like about whatever it is you liked. I liked it. Why? Because then we really talked about art.

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London life

So it finally happened, after years of yearning to live in London I finally moved. I feel like the commute coupled with how incredibly unhappy I was in my last rental has made the streets of London look even more beautiful than I thought possible.

As you may or may not know I had been commuting to work for exactly a month when I moved which I will actually miss in part. I enjoyed having what I called ‘free time’ in my day to read and watching London from the heights of the top deck was soon one of the highlights of my day. However, all things taken into account, I’m pleased to say that this admittedly arduous and tiring part of my day has been replaced with a short walk to the office. The move has also freed my social calendar substantially. While commuting I knew that staying any later than 5.30 would mean I wouldn’t get home until 8 and any time after 6 meant my key wouldn’t turn in the door of 144 until at least 9. Naturally, this deterred me from doing pretty much anything after work. But now… I no longer feel like Cinderella, running for the bus at the risk of my commute being turned into a pumpkin.

The freedom to make plans in London is something I’ve been looking forward to, more so in the last month, but low-key for my entire life. However, London is notorious for its head down attitude so making new friends seemed daunting at first. But thanks to 21st-century methods like Tinder I’ve slowly been attracting like minded people with my new bio ‘Interior designer new to London looking for companions to drink and explore with’.

Keep reading That Libby Girl to hear about my adventures in London, regular updates on my job as a junior interior designer and my endeavors to make new friends, also keep track of my ongoing Twitter commentary #officetalk.

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Week Three

This is the first week that I’ve managed to read during my commute. Before now I found watching people getting on with their day far too compelling, not that the novelty of London has worn off in any way. I still get excited when there’s a seat free right at the front of the bus. London on the big screen.

Although in spite her beauty London can also be a cruel mistress for so many reasons, in part because she is an expensive companion but also because she is confusing. Due to having lived in a small town my whole life and also because I have no particular aversion to walking, I have never really had a need to catch buses before, so this was something of a learning curve for me when I first began my commute. Fortunately, I sailed through the first two weeks with ease, jumping on and of buses almost like a local. Becoming quite proficient in fact. Until Monday… The plan was simple, jump off the bus at a small parade of shops – around a quarter of the way through the 45 from Kings Cross’s journey and half way through mine to Blackfriars – to grab some bits from the CO-OP. Then, of course, jump back on the bus and continue on to work. The first part went off without a hitch. Blueberry muffins and pasta pot stowed away in my bag I reappeared on the bustling street, sunglasses on, and after some time of carefully taking in my surroundings, I realised that I had no idea which direction I had entered the shop from, which is situated on the corner of the ever-busying roads. I thought I was saved when I saw the beloved 45 at a red light, about to head towards a bus stop I could easily make if I walked briskly. Positively smug I jumped on the bus when it stopped in front of me, headphones blaring I took my seat. As always I watched the world go by from my bumpy throne, taking in the things I recognised and the things I didn’t. 20 minutes later I found myself sat outside King’s Cross station, where my journey had begun.

The rest of the week was considerably more successful. I got my first legitimate drawing pack. Gone are the days of tinkering with my Greggs Training file. Time now to apply what I have learned the last two weeks to a live project.

However, although things have gotten more serious this week there still hasn’t been a day go by without a small London treat, like free frozen yogurt from SNOG if you order via Uber Eats or a free bottle of Honest T if you take a photo with their floral installation (that picture is never to be seen). This week was no exception, this week I got the insane opportunity to see London in a way not many people do, from the very top of the OXO Tower Wharf. For a dizzying half hour, I got to peer at London through a birds eye.

 

Also this week I was given my very own set of keys to the office which means that during the half an hour before anyone else gets there I can let myself in and, in this instance, take photos.

London Showroom

Week Two

This week I continued on my quest to learn everything there is to know about designing the nation’s favourite Greggs, all the while expanding what I thought and was wrong to think was already a comprehensive knowledge of AutoCAD. I can’t help but wonder as I’m pausing to write notes under the heading ‘AUTOCAD HINTS AND TIPS’ what university has been teaching me when 2 years down the line I still don’t know half of the commands I know now or how to produce a GA (general arrangement) Plan and an RCP (reflective ceiling plan). I’ve come to the realisation that I’m going to learn more in my year on placement that I ever would have or will learn at uni.

Since I joined as the fourth member of the team, the office – which doubles as a showroom for Philip Watts products – had become rather impractical. As a result, I spent Wednesday putting together a selection of office flat packs from IKEA in preparation for the arrival of a beautiful new desk. One big enough for everyone and which has a completely flat top, which compared to the charming old carved desk it replaced is a godsend. The thought of just brushing off crumbs and being able to write without the aid of a sketchbook due to the deep grooves was an exciting one.

On Thursday I managed to catch the Kings Cross food market before I hopped on the bus. The stalls were bustling with morning commuters contemplating the array of salamis, cheeses, and cakes on offer. The square was littered with people nibbling on fresh pain au chocolates or tucking into breakfast muffins.

Week two ended in what I can only assume is what people who are employed Monday to Friday refer to as the ‘Friday Feeling’, only made better by the pending arrival of our new desk. The morning was spent frantically trying to finish the work we had so we could dedicate the afternoon to reassembling the office and then, as planned, go out to dinner after work. The desire to leave as close to 5 as possible was strong in us all.

As promised to ourselves at 5 we set off walking in the direction of Shoreditch in pursuit of what was to be the best Indian I have ever had.

 

Week One

The first morning felt like a dream, not only because it had been a long time since I’d been up at 6 am but because that was the first day of my career as an interior designer.

Bleary-eyed I got dressed, in an outfit I’d planned the night before, grabbed my bag, which I’d packed the night before, and gathered up the last few bits; wallet, phone, keys, and my lunch, which I’d made the night before. I felt accomplished already by the time I got to the bus stop. There’s something satisfying about walking the streets before most people have even opened their eyes. Dog owners, early morning joggers, and fellow commuters were my company that morning, it was nice. I’d already anticipated the morning commute being the worst part of my week so I was pleasantly surprised when I quite enjoyed it. Saying that coming back is much less enjoyable. Traveling there is easy with all the anticipation of what I’ll be doing that day putting a spring in my step, but an equal anticipation to be home at the end of the day adds a haste to my footsteps on the way back, and brings out an inner intolerance for slow walkers. Also having said that, it’s only been a week.

I walked into the office to see a neatly piled stack of paperwork and a drawing pack, as well as a Pukka Pad, a dates diary, two pens, and a highlighter in front of my computer on my side of the carved wooden desk. I stifled the grin, said good morning to my new colleagues and thought this is fucking it as I lowered myself into my chair. That morning was spent doing new job things like setting up my email, getting shown around the building I would be spending the majority of the next year of my life in, and of course being given some work to do – after all, this is my job now.

As Philip Watts Design is split 50/50 between product design and interior design, Arun explained that it is important for me to have even a basic knowledge of the products the company has on offer, especially as our studio is also a showroom. So I busied myself referring to the product website to find the names of the handles around the showroom. Then lunch, which as I had no stack of work to do this week has been a great chance to explore the area and test out different lunch spots. I found one that I liked on the third day, right in the sun at the top of a set of steps that leads right down to the Thames.

It didn’t take long for me to start working on one of their ongoing projects. I picked up one of the only residential projects Philip Watts works on. My job was to source furniture options, present them in an InDesign file; including image, where it’s from and how much it costs, also any additional information that might be helpful such as dimensions or other colour or material options. This was something I continued to work on for the rest of the week, all the while listening to the comments fly around the room regarding other projects and getting involved where possible.

I had the opportunity to meet the Nottingham team one afternoon early in the week while Arun was on a Skype call with Phil to discuss some changes the clients had come back with. I also managed to meet the teams’ sweetheart and mascot, Hilda, who you can see on the teams Instagram. I know it’s a cliche to say a company is like a family, but it honestly feels like one. What with Arun throwing the phone at me throughout the day to say hello to various team members, much like my mother does with my grandparents. My nerves ebbed away with each friendly welcoming to the team. Also in true family style, my computer is a lovingly cleared out hand me down.

On Friday the long process of training me to produce a complete drawing pack for the new Greggs national roll out, a design the Philip Watts team is responsible for, began. First learning about the different floor finishes and then onto wall finishes, all the while rapidly writing notes on all the AutoCAD tips I’m learning from the guys as I meticulously work through the tasks I’m given. I think the best thing about beginning my adventure in such a friendly environment is the ability to ask questions and, in some cases, be openly be confused. Fortunately, nothing is too much trouble for my new team, even if it is to explain what a bulkhead is for the 10th time.

We finished off the week with a prosecco toast in the office and then when 5 o’clock hit shortly after we left in the direction of another watering hole for one more before it was time for me to begin my commute home.

I walked to the bus stop with the same grin on my face that I had on my first day, this is is it, I did it. And I think I’m going to like it here…

 

 

Follow my Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date with my adventures before my next blog post, which will hopefully be weekly from now on.

 

On the move

 

The tale of a zealous student’s first interview for an extremely exciting and promising industry job.

At last things have been happening. A month of unfruitful emails and tentative flat searches passed before anything happened. I got one response offering an interview but unfortunately they ‘found our new Studio Assistant’ before I had the chance to get my foot in the door. Until, while I was sat at my desk trawling through Dezeen Jobs one afternoon, I got the email from Philip Watts Design.

‘Thank you for your application for the placement position we have in London. I would love to meet you to discuss your work and get to know you a little more.

Are you available this Friday at all to meet at OXO Tower and we can get a coffee and discuss your work?’

At last.

The next week was spent lovingly touching up my, now shoddy, first year AutoCAD plans for my makeshift portfolio. I say makeshift because I have a designed portfolio, one I painstakingly laid out and made perfect for a hand in. Unfortunately, despite explaining to my lecturer that I had an interview and the submission having already been graded, I was unable to collect my actual portfolio from the studio. So, I made a makeshift portfolio of all of my original A3 layouts, which meant I could rearrange the work to suit what I knew Arun (my interviewer) wanted to see. And include hand drawn work from first year which is much more charming on its original, slightly crinkled layout paper. I’ve only just learned how to hand draw but it already feels like hand drawing is a dying art.

The interview went well. I survived the social shun of admitting that I don’t drink tea or coffee, then plumped with a much more palatable orange and mango juice. In fact, Arun made me feel right at home in what seems like the Philip Watts family. We briefly talked about me, then him and then the job itself. Over our drinks, the hot London sun warming our necks, he told me there’s often dogs in the office, that I get two weeks off at Christmas, and one of their biggest clients is Greggs while I sat and listened in rhapsody, hoping that the black A3 presentation folder wilting between my Nikes and the chair leg was enough.

It turns out it was. In a stroke of luck, I got the email from Philip Watts himself a week later, 10 minutes before my brother and I were due to meet my parents in Victoria for a family pub crawl back to my brothers Brixton flat.

‘You met recently with Arun at our London office and he was very impressed! So it gives me great please to offer you a placement opportunity with our company.’

Since then I’ve been looking at affordable and practical rooms in house shares around London and I think I’ve found a steal, but more on that later…