Monday, April 11, 2011

A Week In The Life of An Interior Design Student: Nazira Abedrabbo

The job of an interior designer is often misunderstood to be a mere matter of fluffing pillows and picking paint colors. In reality, interior designers go through a rigorous educational process to learn highly detailed skills and complex software programs that enable them to create safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing spaces for their clients. A glimpse into student Nazira Abedrabbo's schedule will convince you of that!

{Senior interior design student Nazira Abedrabbo works with AutoCad Architecture at school.}

PBC: Tell me a little bit about your background.

NA: I am from Ecuador. I was born and raised in Quito and had a wonderful and happy childhood with my parents and younger brother. We are very family-oriented and have many fun and happy memories together.

PBC: How did you decide to study interior design? Was there a significant experience or person you met who influenced your decision?

NA: I have always been oriented toward Interior Design. Since I was a child I have been artistic and creative, and constantly changing things…especially my room! After graduating from high school, still unsure of which path I wanted to follow, I started an interior design program online, then I went to College for my AA and entered the Architecture program. After finishing my AA, I entered the Interior Design program at Palm Beach State College, which I love. Now here I am, 5 weeks away from graduation!!

PBC: Congratulations! What area of design do you think you want to specialize in?

NA: Honestly, I love every aspect of interior design. I want to get a taste of everything before I decide what to focus on. What I do know is that I want to emphasize Sustainability and Universal Design. I believe that those two aspects of design are very important and should be incorporated into all interiors.

PBC: How would you describe your design aesthetic?

NA: I tend to go for Contemporary Design, and every now and then for Eclectic and Modern Styles. I like sleek, clean lines as well as rich, classic materials. I love color and pattern but essentially I like unique, sophisticated, uncluttered and interesting spaces.

{Nazira with fellow student Gina Pyle enjoying student day at DCOTA in Dania Beach, FL}

PBC: What do you find most difficult and most rewarding about being a design student?

NA: The most rewarding aspect of being a design student is being able to bring original and creative ideas to the table that some people did not think possible. I like to provide comfort and provoke a diverse range of feelings by creating the perfect space. I like the psychology behind design and how every single detail contributes to the whole. I feel like I see the world in a different way now--my perspective has changed. It's hard for me to think of what's most challenging about being a student. Probably the fact that you don't get the opportunity to see your design ideas come to life, but obviously that's part of the learning process. In the real world not every design is approved.

PBC: I imagine you're learning a lot at school and at your internship. Is there any piece of advice or particular  concept you've learned that has really changed how you think about design or running a design business?

NA: Yes. In school I learned that developing business skills is very important to success, especially if you want to run your own design firm. I also learned the value of doing research before jumping to the design process. At my internship I've learned that it's very important to have options and alternatives for your design choices. Build strong relationships with your sales representatives, vendors, workers, and suppliers. Get to know the people you work with and always share your ideas and get input from your colleagues.

PBC: Is there anything you wish you'd known before starting your interior design program?

NA: If I knew how much I was going to love this program and how much I'd learn, I would have started sooner!!    

PBC: Where do you intern currently?

NA: I'm an intern at V Starr Interiors, Venus Williams' design firm, which I love. I was lucky enough to meet wonderful people there who constantly try to teach me as much as they can. Every single one of them is very talented when it comes to design and business, but they are also amazing human beings.

PBC: What are your responsibilities there?

NA: I basically do a little bit of everything, I am mainly in charge of the sample library but I have the opportunity to be involved in several projects, learn about products, do research, select pieces, visit stores, etc.

{Nazira working in the sample room she manages for V Starr Interiors}

PBC: Do you get to go to job sites and see the work in progress, and/ or installations?

NA: Yes, I do. Not regularly, because I only work two days a week, so time is limited, but I have definitely had the opportunity to go to the job site and see different work phases in progress.

PBC: What is a typical day like for you?

NA: My day starts with my 4-month old puppy, Bo (a Morkie—Maltese/Yorkie mix) waking me up at 7:00 am, I feed him breakfast and walk him. I get ready and head to school, but rarely have time for breakfast (Guilty! I am trying to change that!).

On Monday I have Advanced Kitchen and Bath class, which is a studio class. We work on our current project, which is a kitchen and bath renovation using universal design and aging in place techniques. During class we do research, work on our drawings, and get individual feedback from our instructor. If we have a drawing due, we have group critiques where we all pin up our work and comment on each other’s design. Every now and then we have field trips to visit showrooms and look at new products, too.

{Nazira's adorable puppy, Bo, a Morkie (Maltese-Yorkie mix)}

PBC: And the rest of your week?

NA: Tuesday I have Autocad. We’ve covered Autocad Classic and Autocad 2010 for Architecture. Now we’re starting Revit, another 2 & 3-D drafting program. On Wednesdays I have Design 4, which is another studio class. My project for the semester is to design a youth center.

PBC: That sounds like a lot of drafting! Speaking of that, do you like CAD? Or do you miss hand drafting?

I love AutoCAD Architecture. I believe we need to take advantage of technology and whatever tools we can use in order to perform our tasks better and/or faster. I also love hand drafting but now that I’ve learned CAD, I only hand draft at the start of a project until I am ready to move on to the furniture floor plan. Depending on how elaborate my design is, I will hand draft over the CAD drawing in order to add details not available with CAD.

PBC: What's your schedule like on the days when you intern?

NA: I intern on Thursdays and Fridays. My typical day at work might include straightening up the sample library, contacting sales reps and following up with phone calls or voicemails, going to job sites, and running errands or shopping for accessories. I often have meetings scheduled with sales reps from new or existing companies to talk about adding to or updating our sample library. Then I have lunch at work. Most of us bring our own lunches and we sit together to eat. Otherwise, someone will order take-out for everyone in the office. Then I continue with my work and sometimes take over a specific project and get samples, do research, or whatever is needed. I finish at 3:00 pm and go home, then go to school. Thursday evenings I have Professional Practices class, which is all about learning the business side of starting and managing an interior design practice. After class, I go home and do homework.

{Interior designers rely on sample books like these to show clients their options.}

PBC: Wow—what a long day! Do things lighten up for you on the weekend?

NA: On the weekend, my schedule is similar but if I have projects due, I do more homework. If not, I usually have plans with my boyfriend and friends. I like to give my dog as much time as I can. Whenever I am home, he's with me while I do the things I need to do.

PBC: What would people be surprised to know about you?

I was born in Ecuador, but I am pretty mixed in terms my ethnicity. My Dad's side is of Palestinian descent, and my Mom's side is both Lebanese and Italian heritages. My parents are Ecuadorian.

PBC: You've got an unusual heritage! What career would you pursue if you weren’t studying interior design?

NA: I would of go to school for fashion design or photography. I love shoes and handbags and I love to shop--who doesn’t?!

Nazira's Favorite Things

Style of interior design or design period: Contemporary, Modern and Eclectic

Interior designers? Ron Woodson & Jaime Rummerfield, Candice Olson, Vern Yip, Kelly Hoppen.

Architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier

{Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore. Image via here}

Favorite buildings or rooms: Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore

Place you'd love to travel but haven't yet had the opportunity: Italy and Spain

Favorite piece of furniture or furniture company? Interior designer Adriana Hoyos has a beautiful showroom at DCOTA, the design center here in South Florida. I recently contacted Adriana's staff and added her lines to our library at work. I appreciate the fact that she’s also from Ecuador, like me.

 {Phalaeonopsis orchid}

Flower: Lotus Flower, orchids, cosmos, hibiscus blossoms.

Favorite fragrance: Envy Me by Gucci

Favorite food: Arabic, Italian, Japanese (but I don’t eat anything raw).

{Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart}

Favorite design books:
Cradle to Cradle, Towards Healthy Aging, Towards a new Architecture (Le Corbusier), Modern Architecture a critical history.

All images courtesy of Nazira or via Google.


  1. I love it! Once again, thank you for the opportunity!

  2. Thank YOU, Nazira. I'm sure you're fast on your way to rocking the interior design world!

  3. You flatter me by using my photograph of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.

    The original photograph is on my travel blog


  4. Thanks for the link back to my travel blog!
    Very much appreciated!