On Saturday afternoon I received the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and hand written note I've ever received. I was completely surprised and touched to learn that they were from a design student who I had mentored this past school year. When I say mentor I use the term loosely, she was well on her way with her final project before we even met for the first time. Seeing what she had already accomplished and the direction she was taking was impressive,,,the complexity of the project she had taken on was ambitious and would be a challenge for an experienced professional let alone a student....but she didn't seem intimidated in the least.
Midway thru this semester Lisiane was hitting a road block trying to define and grasp 'concepts' and how to successfully develop one for this design project. Co-oincidently I remember it being the one thing I had the hardest time understanding when I was in school too so I really related to where she was coming from. Of course now its something I fully understand on a level that's very intuitive - I believe a design concept stems from your clients lifestyle values (or business/product brand philosophy) and is developed and implemented thru your point of view as a designer. As a student you really haven't developed a strong point of view yet and your client is often completely hypothetical so hence the road block. I tried my best, at length, to explain this very abstract creative thing we call 'concepts' to her by relating it to real life examples that I knew she could relate to, both good ones and bad ones. (possibly a future blog post?)
Anyways, I was thrilled to hear Lisiane pulled her project together with excellent feedback. As she wrote to me "your ability to explain things so clearly when my instructors couldn't is what helped me pull the project together". There are many abstract aspects of the design process that are difficult to grasp in classroom situations, so mentoring or interning with an experienced professional is a really important part of the learning process.
So now here she is thanking me for helping her and here I was feeling like I hadn't really been much of a mentor to her at all. I realize now though that by just simply being available to listen and provide some practical advice and guidance can make a world of difference to their otherwise purely academic approach. I learned from this experience that as professional it doesn't take much time to share some advice and encouragement with students so if you are ever in a position to be able to mentor one I hope you embrace the opportunity to share your knowledge and point of view and enjoy how rewarding it can be. It feels great to receive notes like this..."Your warm and approachable personality has put to rest any misconceptions I've had about Designers".
Congratulations to you Lisiane, I'm so happy to have been a teeny tiny part of what I know will become a very successful career for you as an Interior Designer. Thank you for taking the time to make such a thoughtful gesture, you're note was heartwarming and the flowers are simply beautiful!