An interview with Catherine Abdelshahid

Having graduated from the BA Interior Architecture and Design programme, I made an unnerving decision during the COVID lockdown in the UK to progress onto the MA Interior Architecture and Design course at Birmingham City University. On reflection, I can say it was the best decision ever. On this creative journey, I have enjoyed many rewarding experiences and managed incredible achievements, which I am proud of.  

The course has been an eye-opener, helping me apply new Design Thinking strategies and be more reflective about my design approach, process, and practice transformation. The Tutors have helped us become more confident by questioning our design moves and challenging our design frames.

Our tutors, mentors, and industry champions have also reinforced our determination to channel our unique mindsets and design styles towards our individual employment goals.  In this regard, I have benefitted from a paid teaching role, which enabled me to be paid as a Studio Assistant with the BA and MA teaching Teams.  In 2022, whilst working as a Graduate Studio Assistant on the MAIAD course, I was given the chance of a lifetime…an interview to work at the ‘Best Architect in the World’ according to the Architects Journal.  After a period of preparation and ‘Practice, Practice, Practice’, I successfully secured my dream job, and I have been working as an Interior Designer at Foster + Partners since October 2022”.

Which Design Blogs - have inspired you? 

Which Magazines do you think are essential? 

Which Design Books – have helped you the most? 

  • Whitehead, J., 2017. Creating interior atmosphere: Mise-en-scène and interior design. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Higgins, I., 2015. Spatial strategies for interior design. Laurence King Publishing.
  • Plunkett, D., 2014. Drawing for Interior Design Second Edition. Laurence King Publishing.
  • Plunkett, D., 2015. Construction and Detailing for Interior Design  Second Edition. Laurence King Publishing. 

Which Design Events in the UK have been surprisingly brilliant? 

Which two Interiors have you visited that have changed your praxis? 

  • Tom Dixon Store – Amazing Lighting and Products.
  • Japan House London  – A showcase for Japanese Designed Crafts and Culture.

What software have you found to be essential?

  • Rhino,
  • 3dsmax,
  • AutoCad,
  •  Photoshop,
  • Enscape,
  • Sketchup 
  • Autodesk Revit
  • Indesign
  • Twinmotion
  • Cinema4D - Maxon

What three tips would you give students applying for their dream interior design job?

The best tip I can give is don’t be afraid to apply; it probably seems scarier than it is. It’s better to say I tried and gave it a shot than I wish I would be brave enough to apply because it doesn’t hurt to use or try something new, even when everyone says your crazy for challenging yourself or doing something different.

When working on your coursework, find a great space and an inspiring colleague to work with. This working buddy style is similar to the professional design studio and will help you manage your project and time.

Lastly, work outside of your comfort zone….seize any opportunity that comes your way to learn something new or meet someone new.

What should you do next?

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