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Graduating Into Space

Posted on Tue, 2017-08-22 09:46 by Toni Maria McCall

BDes(Hons) Interior & Spatial Design 2:1
Edinburgh Napier University


I joined Space Solutions in my third year of university 20 months ago.  What started off as a 3 month full-time student placement has progressed into full-time employment as a Junior Interior Designer since graduating in May 2017. Having settled in well within the design studio, Space offered me the opportunity to continue working on a part-time basis, allowing me to continue learning and growing within a strong team of professional designers.

My time at Space so far has offered me a unique insight into all aspects of the design and fit-out process involved in the industry. With our own in house team of contractors, estimators, designers and architects, I had access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. It’s a great learning experience to be so hands-on, with colleagues from various backgrounds to answer my many questions!

I’ve always been aware of the importance of design, whether it’s the environments we spend our time in, a poster that sparks an emotional reaction within us, or a product that makes our life easier or more enjoyable.  Having focussed my dissertation on placemaking, and how emotions can be affected by the design techniques applied within our built environments, I noticed a growing appreciation for design, and a greater understanding of user experience in general.  People care about their staff, their customers, their students, and it’s our job to help them achieve the best environment for their users, whether that’s a productive and motivational working environment or a fun and vibrant restaurant. 

Placemaking is fundamental to successful design, it addresses the psychological aspects of design as well as the physical ones.  That’s my drive as a young designer.  My favourite part of my job is helping clients to understand how to apply this to their own spaces.  It’s a typology of thinking that society is warming to, which is great.

There is a significant difference in the projects I worked on for university and the projects I work on at Space.  In university, briefs are given to you. In reality, a huge part of our job is helping our clients to understand what they need, where the problems are and what are the possible solutions.  Every client is unique, with their own requirements and ideas, which can be challenging but keeps things interesting!

After 6 months working closely with a senior designer, I was ready to take a more hands-on role.  A new brief for our clients at Craneware offered me the opportunity to pull together my first full design as a professional.  Supervised by the design studio I was involved in presenting my proposal to the clients, assisting and learning how to detail construction drawings for the new fit-out, and liaising with the clients throughout with any queries and changes during the process.  Building relationships with the clients gave me the confidence I needed to ensure I was delivering a design that was everything they had asked for. 

Space Solutions specialises in workplace design. This means a huge part of my learning experience is understanding workplace strategy, and keeping up to date with articles and studies on the matter.  I think employers are seeing a significant cultural change as millennials join their workforce.  As a whole, studies have shown we aren’t productive when being chained to a desk.  We are collaborative thinkers and explorers, with a new perception of working environments and relationships in the work place.  We learn best from hands-on experience and involvement.  Providing working environments for such a broad range of users involves acknowledging the importance of flexible and collaborative working.

With the advancements in technology and the design programmes available now, young designers are especially skilled in 3D visualisation and CGI.  It’s how we communicate our design concepts and clients find it much easier to relate to them than a 2D floor plan.  And 3D visuals are just the beginning.  Axon VR has recently taken virtual reality to the next level – sight, sound, temperature and textures can all be experienced through their VR technology.  This can also be applied to our built environments – allowing clients to fully immerse themselves in the design before construction stage.  It’s an exciting time to begin your creative career.

Space Solutions has given me more opportunity than I ever could have hoped for at this stage in my career.  Although I have worked hard, I appreciate how lucky I am to have the support of experienced professionals within the industry, with their advice and guidance I grow in confidence as a young designer every day.


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