As a soon-to-be senior in college, I have been mulling over what exactly I am going to do for a career for quite some. Interning at Rinfret allowed me to experience firsthand the realities of a successful business in the Interior Design industry. During my first week, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon hosted by Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, where Cindy and Dinyar Wadia discussed the realities of this industry, in terms of design and decorating trends.
Above, the Indian Harbor Yacht Club where the lecture was held.
As the lecture progressed, I found myself mesmerized by the discourse between Cindy and Mr. Wadia. At one point in the lecture, they discussed security for the homes that they create, as many of these homes are located in wealthy areas and belong to high-profile clients. Cindy began describing certain "safety rooms" that she had developed for several clients. The purpose of these rooms that she created was to provide shelter, clean air, and necessary resources in the event that another September 11th were to occur. I found this to be compelling because it went far beyond the scope of anything one might imagine for a normal, everyday home, but it exemplifies how function is so highly considered in design.
At another point in the lecture, an audience member asked Cindy how she begins her design process with a new client and if she is able to instinctively pinpoint their tastes right off the bat. Cindy said that there are certain crucial factors that she considers right away, such as their careers, if they have children, and if they have pets. Cindy also noted that she tries to get a strong sense of a client's lifestyle beyond considering how much space they may need inside the home. For example, it might be a family that weekends in the Hamptons, or sits down to a formal dinner every night, or they might have a strong passion for sailing or skiing. She also recognizes how people carry themselves and whether their lifestyle is formal or casual. All of these components together ultimately translate into the vision for the home design.
Listening to Cindy recount this process really resonated with me because design is all about collaborating and learning to work with different personalities and tastes. Furthermore, some of the comments that Cindy made tapped into a psychological side of design, previously unbeknownst to me, and it is something that I ruminated over even after the lecture had completed. I shared these points with friends and family when they asked about my internship because it shows that there is an incredibly critical aspect to design, being that a designer can identify someone's style immediately, and the process is far more than simply choosing paint colors.
About midway through June, I was helping keep track of updates for an installation in Greenwich when Cindy approached me and asked if I wanted to help her design a room. At this point in summer, I had become so familiar with the products we had in the studio and I had been eager to work on a project that involved some creativity. Cindy told me to grab some Designer's Worksheets and we began by selecting a drapery fabric and moving forth from there. This particular client wanted to keep their existing rug, so we kept choosing fabrics, accessories, and furnishings that coordinated well with the rug until the room was turned into a complete thought.
Being able to shadow Cindy with this design project was such a phenomenal experience because I hope to have my own design company eventually and Rinfret, Ltd. serves as such an inspiration for me. One of the greatest things about my internship is that Cindy and all of the Rinfret designers have all wanted to help me learn. I have had so much more responsibility than a “standard” internship, for instance, where designated tasks might only include filing, copying, and faxing. Being treated as more than an intern has allowed me to learn and expand my abilities, and has given me a strong idea of what a career in this industry will be like. It has been an amazing summer – from meetings with vendors where I viewed new collections, to photo shoots, to assisting with home installations, to picking out furnishings and accessories. I even went with the Rinfret team to the Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Innovation In Design Awards Party. Here I am below with the team, from left to right: Chelsea Garber, Jo Ann Zawalski, Kristen Farrington Dawson, Elizabeth Ethridge McGann, me (Taylor Lagerloef) and Cindy Rinfret:
As my internship is about to culminate, I am wrapping up last-minute projects and assignments. I have been helping one of the designers pick out certain trims and wall-coverings for a client. We wanted to look at some new options, so just last week I was finally able to make it into the city to go to the Decoration & Design Building. In addition to our need for new products, I figured it would be an important place to visit, especially because I had never been before. I must admit, it was a bit overwhelming as there are many showrooms in the building, but I knew exactly what I needed and where I needed to go in the building to find it.
Back in the studio, I would call the showrooms in the D & D Building on a daily basis to check availability of products, place orders, and follow up to ensure the orders arrived on time (which I quickly realized requires a lot of follow-up). It was a bit surreal to finally visit the home base for pretty much everything I had been working on this summer, but I found exactly what I needed and was able to pick up samples right on the spot – definitely a relief as opposed to waiting for them to arrive to the studio!
Check out this stationary monogrammed with Cindy's name from Schumacher (always a required destination at the D&D):
I am now in my second to last week at Rinfret. I am able to look back and realize how fortunate I have been to gain so much knowledge of this industry, inside and out. It is difficult to simply recapitulate what I have learned from this internship as a whole, but on a daily basis I was able to approach work from more than just an intern’s perspective and begin to get a sense of all aspects of a design concept. Although I return to school in two weeks, I couldn’t be more eager and thrilled to graduate and continue a career in interior design.