A few years back someone said to me: “you’re either a teacher or a designer” when I mentioned that I was BOTH. Sometimes comments like this are just plain ridiculous. At the time, I was both. A full time Interior Designer/Associate with a reputable Architecture & Design firm and teaching part time at Orange Coast College, so I’m not quite sure why this person couldn’t comprehend that. It’s not that it matters all that much what people think, but fast forward about 6 years and I’m teaching full time and indirectly involved in a design project with this individual. Sometimes, I enjoy irony. This time especially.
I happen to wear a lot of hats and always have in my work life. I’m qualified in every which way to design and teach and I also happen to enjoy crafting. In many circles, these do not blend well. People have strong opinions on what constitutes a ‘professional’ and the perceptions are defined through your activities. I kept my work life and personal life very separate for a number of years so as to be taken more seriously when it comes to work. I struggled with wanting to talk/blog about projects, codes, design qualification and design politics and work in my love of crafting, cooking, jewelry making and domestic type activities. I’ve come to realize that all of those things are who I am. I accept it and if certain others don’t, I can’t care. I choose to enjoy what I do, be it work, teaching (which is also work), developing new curriculum, crafting, jewelry design, amateur guitar playing, cooking, and various Mom activities. I love them all and I’m fortunate to do what I love and be able to change hats, switch gears and just enjoy what I’m doing.
People sometimes ask if I “miss design”. At times, yes I miss being fully engrossed into a project and in space planning/problem solving mode. In reality, I am engrossed in design on a daily basis. I have the opportunity to teach wonderful, talented, eager students and have design discussions often. I also have the problem solving challenge on how to improve my teaching practice so that I’m more effective; help that student that might be struggling with a certain concept and keep the curriculum fresh and current so we all enjoy the learning process together. What I don’t miss are billable hours, unreasonable co-workers/clients, 12 hour work days and losing sleep because someone might be upset over an ice-maker fitting properly onto the counter top. I’m happy to give all that madness up and focus on what is important to me, what makes me happy and where I believe I can make a difference in the world of design.