Oh I did WORK as well!

Top Left Design

Fall 2018

Soho, London

Work

Top Left Design is a small design firm that was founded by my boss, Keren. She started the company about 15 years ago after she started successfully pursuing free-lance design work on websites. She turned it into a full-time business.

We had a small team of 4 designers (including Keren) and a couple of contracted coders. As a design intern, I was given a lot of design tasks.

Now, I am not a graphic design student, but that is the work that I did for Keren. Industrial Designers are absolutely required to have a good understanding of communication design concepts, and this was a great way for me to expand those skills.

I started off small, with internal content. Keren assigned me various signage around the office. I created branded content for TLD’s social media. Once I demonstrated sufficient skills, I moved on to client work. I got to design websites for 3 different clients and industries. Besides design, I also wrote blog posts, articles, and e-mails to various clients. Exercising my writing skills is something I really enjoy. I also was sometimes asked to create video content and animations that allowed me to utilize the electronic media skills that I have gained in pursuit of my minor.

The company culture was definitely a work hard/play hard mentality. We would crank through 8 hours of content entry to get a site up and running on time, and then go out to a movie and a glass of wine to celebrate. The local office only had me, Tamlyn, and Keren, and the three of us had to rely on each other for emotional support when days got busy. It was nice to know that the ladies sitting next to me absolutely had my back. Whether it was a client being rude or I felt like I was in over my head, Tam and Keren always supported me when I needed it. Our little office felt like a home away from home, and it was very nice to work from every day.

Compared to my US co-op experience, I felt more camaraderie. I never knew how important it really was in a business. I don’t know if that had to do with the size of the company or the fact that the culture is different in London, but I am glad I experienced it.

Pictures

En route to work…

I made Skyline for my co-workers!

Office Space.

Desk space!

The ever-important tea/coffee corner.

I toured ALL of Europe in half a day!

This is a crazy crazy story, and some of you won’t believe me. But that’s okay too.

Story-Time

I bussed to Brussels from London, about 9 hours. On the bus, I sat next to a woman who was raised in Brussels and now lives in London. We got to chatting of course. She was so sweet, but slightly secretive.

I asked her about what she does, and she got rather shy. This intrigued me of course, but I didn’t want to push it. I moved on to different topics of conversation. We discussed the reason we were going to Brussels, and she informed me that her sister and mother were still living there and she was visiting them for the weekend. She said, “Now that Halloween is over, I have time to go see them.”

I wondered why Halloween was so busy for her, but I hesitated to ask, especially after she wouldn’t answer my question about her line of work. She cleared her throat *ahEM* and changed the subject as if she had read my mind and still didn’t want to answer.

“Are you meeting anyone in Brussels?” she asked me.
“My friend is coming from Madrid to meet me here today.”
“Do you know when she is coming?”
“Yeah we are meeting around noon!” I replied confidently.
Her smile faltered. “But… the bus is getting in at 6 am, what are you going to do until then?”
“Well, I’m going to have a look at the city and see what there is to see, of course!”
“But you are so small, and there are dangerous forces in the world. Let me help you.”
“No no, you are meeting your family. Don’t put that on hold for me. I am confident I can stay safe. I have done my research, and I am sticking to the well trafficked areas.”
Her face broke into a wise smile. “I am glad you have prepared, but I can help without compromising my family time. What if I told you that I had some special powers?”

My face begged her for clarity.

“It’s true. I can’t get specific about it, but it’s true. I want to help you by, erm let me think… I can make you at least a bit bigger for the day. Just for the day. Would you be okay with that?”

I stared back in a confounded silence. What on earth was she talking about.

“Okay I’ll take that as a yes! Magna wellgna, diem salutem puella! There! now you will grow to be large enough to keep you safe! Just for the day, don’t worry I wouldn’t make it permanent. Unless that’s what you want?”
“Umm, I don’t think so?”

At this point I was convinced she was just a little strange. I let it slide because I was stuck next to her for another few hours and I didn’t want to make her mad.

Fast forward to Brussels. I arrived as expected, nothing unusual. I said my goodbyes to my funny bus friend and made my way to my first couple of sights. As I walked, everything started to shrink. And shrink. And shrink and SHRINK. I was mortified! What on earth was happening to me?! Her words rang in my head… Magna wellgna, diem salutem puella! You will grow to be large enough to keep you safe! 

Uh oh. Here I was. Growing (for the first time in my life really). But also not STOPPING. The buildings shrunk to knee height. I started to panic. What could I do?? I had never been tall before, let alone GIANT. This was how big I had to be to stay safe? I sat and despaired. I despaired for my own monstrosity and the danger of the world I lived in.

After these sobering thoughts, I began to look around. I realized something very special. I could see all the way across Europe. Everything in Brussels was a few steps away. The Eiffel Tower was visible, and seemed only a few minutes stroll through the country. Why on earth was I sitting and moping when I could be over in Budapest in 20 minutes? I began to understand that I should take advantage of such a huge opportunity (pun intended). So I did. Everywhere from Sweden to Portugal to to Italy to Lithuania.

The time came, of course, when I had to meet Alicia, my friend from Madrid. So I headed back to Brussels to see her plane arrive. As we met, I shrunk back down. I’m assuming this is because now I had a friend to look after me and to look after myself, but your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know how this woman’s magic worked, and I don’t think I want to. I am just grateful for the incredible day I had!

New Friends

I have been meeting and conversing with all sort of people these days. Today, I would like to talk about a few of my favorites.

Judith

Two women walk into a restaurant together, yet alone. No, it’s not a riddle. It’s the story of how Andie met Judith! I walked into Yalla Yalla expecting a casual Lebanese street food shop. What I found was a pretty intimate space. “Table for two?” No, just one for me. And then the middle-aged lady behind me said the same.

I went out on a limb, turned around and asked if she wanted to eat with me. It was a small risk for a big reward. We sat together and chatted. She and her husband came from design backgrounds, and we found it very easy to talk to each other.  She shared pictures of her dog, and told me about her career in the fashion industry.

We shared food, and I tried her chicken liver in pomegranate sauce. It was… interesting. I definitely preferred my order, and I think after trying my arayes, Judith also preferred it. Yes, the chicken liver at this restaurant is popular across London, but that doesn’t mean it was right for Judith and me.

Laura

On my way to Spain, flying RyanAir for the price of course, there was a problem with my flight, of course. 10 minutes until my gate closed and they hadn’t posted the gate number yet. Of course. Naturally, I went to find answers. By the time I found someone to help me, other Barcelona-bound bums begging for answers had also found him.

One of these people, the first one to ask, was Laura. She was a Colombian litigation lawyer intern in London going to visit her friends in Spain, and she was so sweet. We took the time to figure out what each one was doing in London, she explained to me what a litigation lawyer does, and we laughed and cringed at how her bosses told her to relax on a $100,000 deal because it “wasn’t enough money to worry about”… wow?

Anyway, I was thankful for her solidarity in the stressful travel times, and we had several good laughs together. 

 Gaudí

Antoni Gaudí was probably my favorite person to meet. I have fallen in love with him and his work. When I look at his work, I see a challenge to traditional architecture. He gives people livable sculptures, and I have never seen anything like it. The absolute imagination. He makes it feel careless, like a child looking to make something but never considering the limitations of making it. But then… he did… because, it got MADE! He DID consider the limitations, the physics, the math and it worked with them! Amazing! I was intrigued by a little girl sitting on the bench in his park sketching. He’s so inspiring even for little kids!! 

Gaudí, I know you have passed, but I hereby give you full permission to smash all of my ceramics projects for your mosaics.