Q&A WITH INTERN MONICA BIRD

We have been so lucky having star interior design intern Monica Bird helping us out in the AKD studio. Her colourful personality and lipstick has certainly brightened up our Monday mornings over the past few months!

Growing up in Sydney’s North Shore and spending summer holidays at the beach ignited Monica’s love of nature from a very early age, which she now cites as her main source of inspiration when it comes to her approach to interior design. Coupled with a mother and grandmother who are both amazing painters, the creative gene has clearly been passed down to this lovely lady.

Monica describes her design journey in her own words: 
‘For my HSC major work I made a series of lampshades and won an award for them which was really exciting and encouraged me to pursue a career in design, so after high school I enrolled at the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS). I loved it, however after a couple of years I wanted to take a break from full-time study so I travelled around Europe for a year. When I returned home I started working as an Account Manager in a marketing agency, however three years later I was sitting at my desk bored and unhappy and realized that I needed to go back to doing what I really loved – interiors. When I walk into a space I notice everything from paint finish to door handles, and everything in between is what makes me truly happy! Pretty soon after I ended my marketing career and enrolled in TAFE to finish my interior design degree!’

Before Monica leaves us to finish her Interior Design Degree at the Design Centre Enmore (DCE) at Sydney TAFE, we sat down with the self-confessed ‘Queen of Puns and Dad Jokes’ to ask her some serious questions . . .

THREE WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Optimistic, fun, spontaneous! 

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP?

A lawyer. I wanted to wear a suit, have a briefcase and earn lots of money! 

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

In terms of design it’s more a ‘what’ rather than a ‘who’. I am inspired by nature. The interesting patterns, colours and unusual organic forms are limitless and really influence my approach to spatial planning and materiality selection.  

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

My favourite design magazines are always on rotation! My go-to interior magazine is Frame as it explores interior architecture and publishes cutting edge inspiring spaces. I love Belle for its beautiful interiors and for sourcing the latest fixtures and fittings. And I’ll be a Vogue lover for life with its lush spaces, both local and international.   

WHAT DIGITAL MEDIA DO YOU DEVOUR AS A STUDENT OF INTERIOR DESIGN?

There are so many amazing creative outlets at the tips of our fingertips these days! I get my daily dose of digital design inspiration from Dezeen, ArchDaily and Yellowtrace. I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Instagram HAHA. Even if I only have 5 spare minutes in my day I’ll always check out @kellywearstler and @camillewalala

DO YOU FOLLOW TRENDS OR ARE YOU A TRENDSETTER?

I don’t follow trends but nor do I consider myself a trendsetter. For example, I’ll put together outfits that are an extension of my random personality. I’m obsessed with animal prints, patterns and am not afraid to mix all of these!

WHAT DREAM DO YOU STILL WANT TO FULFILL?

Working as an interior designer in New York. I would love to experience living in a new city and am drawn to the Big Apple as I am intrigued by its eclecticism and feel it has a lot to offer in terms of creativity. As an emerging interior designer, being exposed to forward thinking global design would challenge what I have learned so far and hopefully make me a stronger designer! I’m also obsessed with the TV show Girls, which is set in New York . . .

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH AKD?

Definitely the welcoming and lovely studio team! And being able to see how Alex and the designers work on projects from an initial consultation to developing a concept design and material selection, right through to construction and even assisting at a photoshoot (or two!) has been a great learning experience and truly inspiring! Thank you so much for having me around these past few months!

Image 1 via © Monica Bird / All other images via ©Alexandra Kidd Design 

Intern In The Interior

Katherine joined our team as an intern last week and here she shares her experiences of what it was like working at Alexandra Kidd Design . . .

'Alexandra Kidd kindly gave me an internship this week to experience the workings of the interior design world. As a humble psychology graduate desperate to jump into a creative career, I began on Monday morning believing none of my previous career choice would come into play. However, as this week’s adventures have taught me, Alex and her team use their own kind of counselling to remind a client that the ugly duckling stage is just the beginning of the journey to the beautiful interior they will eventually create together.

My first experience in the studio was the Monday morning meeting, where the team discussed the tasks to complete and begin for each client. As my eye quickly caught the lush design books around the room I appeared to tune out for about 20 minutes and feeling movement in the room I believed the meeting was nearly finished. Wrong! The girls had just finished the first project. Tuning back in I was amazed for the next 2 hours at the amount of detail the designers put into each client’s home. Each finish, corner, carpet and door handle was meticulously discussed and understood in context of the space. Interior designer Amandine showed me the fabric and wallpaper samples for an ongoing penthouse project Alex was working on. I was amazed as Amandine pulled sample after sample out of wallpaper, curtain material, carpet and bed coving materials in colours and textures I would never have envisioned together but made such a handsome pair!

The following day Alex and I met with a client at their house which could have doubled for a Aboriginal art gallery. The property had been converted from one apartment to two, a separate area for the children and adults. The ‘adult’ kitchen was a favourite of mine, Alex had paired a brown and cream tile with pale blue cabinets for a fresh and calming feel, I very much wanted to make a cup of tea and just look out over Sydney Harbour for half an hour! Nevertheless, having decided on a cityscape design for the drapes and agreeing to a feature wall in what admittedly was a neutral bedroom we headed out of the apartment with the family dog giving us a departing wave of the tail.

Later in the day, the whole team ventured to a recently finished project in Redfern. The mainly black and white décor created a refined elegant space for a very elegant client. We arrived as a rich white striped wall paper was put into place. The client was clearly delighted as the apartment was coming together. There were a few spots around a door frame that were requested to be retouched and to my untrained eye, I could barely see the need for any changes. However, Alex and Amandine scrupulously analysed the door’s paint job, explaining to me the discrepancy was due to the painters using a brush around this particular doorway and not a roller varying the difference in the finished grain. The girls arranged for this to be fixed the following day.

Thursday, I tagged along to a few Darlinghurst fabric rooms to pick up some samples for a client who owns a Thai restaurant. As my eyes got drunk taking in all the different patterns and deep confusion set in, Alex and Amandine methodically picked out samples as a clear colour scheme emerged involving tones of grey, blue and yellow. This reminded me of how earlier in the week I had pulled out a fabric sample with lots of red for this same venue. Amandine explained to me that red invokes a quintessentially Chinese feel which would be in conflict with the style of a Thai restaurant and the concept developed with the client. Just proving the significance Alexandra Kidd Design places on creating a space constantly in line with her client’s vision.

A week with the team at Alexandra Kidd Design opened my eyes to the incredibly meticulous hands-on process that the designers take with each of their clients. The process is demanding, but as Amandine said to me on the afternoon I left, it is a complete one. Beginning with concept development and getting to know the client, to delivering a new beautiful unique home for them. What could be a more complete process than that?'

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