Sunday, December 16, 2012

Designing Amanda; What this blog is all about.

The basics :: This may come off as ramblings, but I've got to start somewhere, and I'll get to the point. This is the story of how I got to where I am.  My name is Amanda. I am an Industrial Designer, and a recent addition to the massively large population of Atlanta, GA. If you're from a larger city, Atlanta's population may not seem so "massively large" to you, but I can assure you that it is massively larger than the outer rim of Birmingham, AL, my hometown.  I was born and raised there, and graduated from high school in 2007.

Context at leaving high school :: In my senior year, I had taken a very random extra-curricular class called "Fashion and Housing Decisions."  Nowadays, you could probably call this a Pinterest class, as it was really just a bunch of crafts for the home.  I made pillows and a skirt, and framed coffee-stained drawings.  There was, however, one project that stood out.  I designed my "future house."  (pictured on right) This exposure to floor-planning and materials, and just putting ideas on paper set my wide-eyed sights on becoming an Architect. I was so eager to move to Auburn, AL and begin my long-awaited schooling at Auburn University.

Context at entering Auburn :: I grew up a huge fan of Auburn.  Both of my grandfathers were professors at the university, my parents grew up in the small close-knit town, and sometimes there is a hell of a football team to watch! [The last few years having been a roller coaster, but War Eagle anyway!] I participated in the band at Auburn, as I had during school since 6th grade, and I joined an Introduction to Architecture class in my first semester. 

During this class, we were shown slideshows of famous architects' work.  Occasionally, an architect might have designed a chair on the side, or in the case of Frank Lloyd Wright, they might have designed every single detail in the home:

Wright conceived virtually every detail of both the external design and the internal fixtures, including furniture, carpets, windows, doors, tables and chairs, light fittings and decorative elements. He was one of the first architects to design and supply custom-made, purpose-built furniture and fittings that functioned as integrated parts of the whole design
- Frank Lloyd Wright's Glass Designs; Carla Lind, 1995

I was discussing Wright with one of our graduate assistants after class one morning, and said something along the lines of "Man, I can't wait to become an architect one day so that I can design all the cool stuff inside of houses!" His reply? "Uhm...I think you're in the wrong major." He sent me to Wallace Hall, the Industrial Design building on the other side of campus.  The rest is history, as they say.  

I had never heard of Industrial Design, and was so thrilled upon seeing all of the project boards lining the hallways, the colorfully-painted sketch-covered walls in the studios, and the models and prototypes sitting around on all of the over-sized desks.  I began to feel this sense of belonging like I had maybe just stumbled upon my future profession.

I enrolled in the Intro to Industrial Design class that next semester and entered the Summer Option Design Program to compete my way into the course curriculum.  On a ridiculously hot day in May 2011, three whirlwind, sleep-deprived and unforgettable memory-filled years later, I graduated Cum Laude with my Bachelor's Degree of Industrial Design from Auburn University.

After graduation, I moved back home and enjoyed my first vacation in years.  I hadn't had a summer off of school since the year before college started. One blissful month went by, and then I decided that it was time to find a temporary job to hold me over while looking for that awesome big-time design job.  I applied to Restoration Hardware, interviewed the next day, and was hired as the new Design Sales Associate the next. Two months later, I was the new full-time Visual Manager and got lost in a world of high-end retail for a year and half, completely forgetting about looking for a job about which I was passionate.

So, why the move to Atlanta?

On June 3, 2012, I lost one of my lifelong best friends in a tragic car accident.  Laura was in social work, and was SO passionate about it.  She didn't waste any time in retail after graduation.  She jumped right in to working and she was really making a difference in people's lives.  She had that kind of job that is just perfect for someone; the one where they wake up excited for work every morning, inspired to do things.  After her death, it kind of hit me that I wasn't living the life I was supposed to be living.  That sounds far more dramatic than I mean for it to.  I wasn't wasting my life away or anything, but I also wasn't doing what I had expected to be doing, and I wasn't going to waste any more time not doing it.  

I turned in my notice, and left Restoration Hardware in mid-September.  I took the next month to work on my portfolio and look for an apartment with my best friend from I.D. at Auburn, and we moved to the ATL in mid-October.  Two months later, there are new projects in my portfolio and I'm finally ready to hit the ground running to find that design job.

You're now up to speed. Here we are. The point of this blog: Designing Amanda. Yes, I am Amanda that designs, but I am also still designing me.  I'm not sure yet what kind of a designer I want to be. This blog is about figuring that out.  I have lots of ideas, some of them like my head is in the clouds.  I know what I'm passionate about, and I also know what I would rather not spend my days doing.  Beggars can't be choosers, sure, but I am going to try my hardest to pinpoint exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing there; to find that job that inspires me and makes me want to get up every morning.  I know this all sounds cliche and naive, but I am going to make it happen. 

Look forward to posts about products, companies and people that inspire me, or are just noteworthy.  As I make up my mind on my big dream, you'll hear about that too.

To bigger and better things, and my dream job!