From an Intern’s Mind at Design HQ

From an Intern’s Mind at Design HQ

by Ryan Gablines, former intern and current Junior Technical Designer, Design HQ

Part of being a student designer is to apply for internships from companies and design firms to practice, learn and immerse in the work culture of the industry. In the field of Interior Design, there are so many options on where to hone our skills from design firms.

It was during my second year in college that I got to know Design Hirayama + Quesada (Design HQ) when I was scrolling through Instagram. When I reached my third year, it was perfect timing when we were looking for the right company for our internship. Design HQ held a webinar about “Snatching your dream job.” As I listened to the webinar and took notes, I thought “What if I’ll apply in Design HQ?” and as soon as the webinar was done, I immediately checked and gathered my design plates, wrote down my skills for my resume and drafted an email for an application for internship.

Deciding to take my Interior Design internship at a company that was outside of my town (I’m from Cebu) was a leap of faith. I felt nervous at first but most of all, I felt the excitement and the pressure that I could take on a new environment, with new people and new experiences.

Every student has their first impression on their first day during their internship. When I stepped in my first zoom meeting with the whole DHQ team, I was thrilled, nervous and amazed all in one go as I met the design principals, designers, architects, and the admin team. Design HQ has weekly Monday meetings where all designers and sometimes the admin team, share all their project updates for the week, but with a fun twist – with their personalized Zoom background and a short story to tell. During the Monday meetings, it reminded me how being organized and corporate can also be fun and casual too.

When I officially started my tasks and met my design teams during the orientation, I was excited with the level of projects and scope the team was handling. As a student doing mostly conceptual and hypothetical design tasks, finally I got to take on a project with real design problems and strategies. It was eye-opening seeing the concepts and topics you’ve learned from school were relevant in the workplace, even the software and applications we practiced as students like CAD drawings and 3D modeling. At Design HQ, I was able to encounter cool tips in making my work faster and efficient such as dynamic blocks in CAD, using Layout in preparing furniture packages and other presets or templates that made my drawings presentable. After absorbing all the standards, I realized how Design HQ really emphasized being detail-oriented, concise, and dynamic in terms of presentation which was great training for me. There was so much to learn and unlearn in terms of work ethics, being keen on details and most of all, always striving for excellence.

Behind the focused working hours, the internship was even more fun with the additional webinars and online social events prepared by the team. I got to interact with fellow designers during “kamustahan” sessions and spilled fun stories together with other interns from different Interior Design schools. Even with workloads, there was also time for us to take breaks and be ourselves.

While most of my internship work was done online, it was not an opportune time for me to do actual site work since it was still the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the pandemic couldn’t stop me from learning and making the most of my internship, and thankfully Design HQ had informative webinars that filled in my knowledge regarding site work and sourcing. Working in an online set-up was efficient, flexible, and doable.

At Design HQ, all interns will present a conceptual design project on their last day showing their works, experiences and stories about their whole internship stay. My conceptual project was a 1-Bedroom condo unit with a concept of an urban city living focusing on providing spaces to unwind and boost productivity. During my final internship report, I was able to give a walkthrough to the whole Design HQ team to my conceptual design, my projects, and experiences while being casual yet creative through a personalized “instagram themed” presentation. It was one of my most memorable experiences, being able to share, and step-up my game to the design principals and the whole design team, knowing they also enjoyed the presentation and gave insights on my work.

Overall, the internship experience was a full package of learning and new endeavors. After I left the company and started to finish my Interior Design degree, I continued to carry the confidence, knowledge, and honed habits in school, and now as a Junior Technical Designer at Design HQ. The internship journey can be overwhelming at first, but along the way, you might realize and adapt to the standards, the work culture or even discover your own way of doing things effectively. Most importantly, never forget to have fun while learning and exploring new things.  

Visuals by: Elle Celajes