On Thursday I began my morning by meeting with Team Morris. Erin began by showing me the finished images of the BrightHouse space that I had seen the schematic plans of when I shadowed Brittany Jones for a day over the summer. BrightHouse is a marketing firm that has a space in Ponce City Market in downtown Atlanta. Their space ended up being super fun and outside the norm of a typical office space. After talking with Erin I met with Craig the design director at VCave to review my portfolio and resume. I was able to discuss with him what I should add to my portfolio and focus on for my remaining time as a student to better myself when I start my career. Ultimately, he said I should continue to focus on developing my hand renderings because I have a natural understanding of hand drawings from my previous experiences.

I then attended a rep lunch at the Global Furniture Group showroom in Atlanta. Global began as a chair manufacturer and has evolved into a large line of mid-priced furnishings for the office and home. The rep at Global showed us some of the newer products in the line and their functions.

After lunch I met with Team Dietrich where I was able to review a set of red lines and talk about changes that needed to be made and why. I then sat in on a conference call with a client. The purpose of the call was to go ahead and okay the CD’s and any changes that had been made so that the CD’s could be sent onto the City for approval.

I then attended the Thursday afternoon presentation. This rep was here to show the newer products in a carpet tile line and why this product was better than their competitors.

After my fourth day at VCave I was really understanding and appreciating what everyone was doing. As I reflected over my few days I had spent at VCave I had noticed that within each team there was a range of ages and backgrounds on each team. My preconceived idea of a larger commercial firm was that there would be few recent graduates and that the majority of the designers would be older with many years of experience. However, this did not hold true at VCave. I was noticing that there were plenty of recent graduates that were still learning and establishing themselves in the design field. This was refreshing to see because even though they are all extremely qualified they do not know everything yet but their colleagues are always willing to help and answer questions so that they can become better designers.


On Wednesday I began my morning with Team Kassler. I first met with Nadin who began by explaining a corporate space that she has been working on. She had just had her finishes meeting with the client who loved the concept that their team had developed. The companies colors were a span of bright colors that they needed to incorporate into the space. She decided to use the colors throughout the space by defining each area with one of the colors. For instance for the meeting rooms she transitioned the hallway carpet tile and the meeting room carpet tile by adding a border of red carpet tile that would ombre into a carpet tile that had red and grey and then into a solid grey pattern. After meeting with Nadin I spoke with Rachel who was working on the RCP for the same space. The week previously the client decided to cut the budget so Rachel was working on changing the lighting fixtures from a hanging direct-indirect pendant to a direct-indirect 2×4 to cut down on the budget. She went through and explained her process of doing the RCP for a larger space with weird angles.

After meeting with Team Kassler I attended the Lunch and Learn in the VCave Library. A rep for multiple lines came and discussed some of the newer products in a number of the lines.

Once the Lunch and Learn was over I met with Team Glover/QAQC. This teams focus is to review all the CD’s before they are sent to one of the architects in the firm. At VCave they have a four step review process before a CD is sent to the City for review. It begins with whoever created the CD and then it is sent to the head of the Team from there it is sent to Team Glover and then to an architect. Between each of the reviews the CD is sent back to the designer who created it to make corrections which are called red lines. After each review the designer is also graded on the amount of corrections that need to be made and it is tracked in their system so that if someone is having consistent trouble with something they are able to get help. I found this process to be extremely successful especially when first entering into the field because you are being critiqued but also learning from your mistakes, making you a better and more efficient designer.

After briefly meeting with Team Glover I met with Team Hancock. At Team Hancock they gave me the overall plan of a space and the criteria that would need to go into the space. They then asked me to develop multiple schematic hand sketches of the space. After completing a variety of layouts they reviewed my drawings and discussed with me which ones were more successful and why.

After my third day at VCave I was thrilled by everything I was learning and the connections I was making between VCave and my education at UK. I also was starting to have a good feel for the overall culture of VCave. They are an extremely welcoming group that is extremely professional yet still provides a comfortable and friendly environment. On my first day I felt nervous because there were so many people and I felt as though you could get lost in the mix here. However, after meeting with multiple Teams I realized that everyone had a place here and that each person brings something to the Team.


The next day I arrived and sat with Brittany and continued to learn about CD’s while we waited for the Tuesday morning presentation. At 9 am I walked over to the library where EBEA, a wall art rep discussed and showed us their line. EBEA focused primarily on printing graphics onto canvas, metal, and wall coverings. It was an interesting approach because each graphic they own so they are able to adjust the graphics colors and tones depending on the space that is being designed. They also gave an option to lease artwork so that companies could update their artwork periodically.

After the morning presentation I met with Team Sparger. Unlike the majority of the teams at VCave that focus on tenant and corporate space design, Team Sparger focused on Industrial design. In essence this means they primarily work with large storage warehouses that typically have a small office area in the front space. First I met with Angela, a recent graduate from SCAD, we began by picking out carpet and millwork finishes for a Mormon church she was working on. After picking out a few variations we ordered the samples for her to present to the client later in the week. After doing so Angela discussed with me different codes and wall systems they have to oblige by when working with industrial spaces.

It was then time to go to a rep lunch with Team Sparger. The company focused on whitenoise and the importance of its use within a space. He explained since HVAC systems are becoming so efficient to the point that they put off nearly no noise that many office spaces are finding their spaces to be too quiet. This quietness then brings up the level of noise from people because their is nothing to muffle the noise. Even though I had heard of whitenoise before I had never directly thought about the impact of a space without whitenoise.

My next meeting of the day was with Team Holliday. I started by completing a finishes binder for them that would be given to the client so that they could use it as a reference tool. After doing that I was given the task to choose a few options for wall coverings in a lobby space. The space needed two options for wall coverings. The first option was under their budget and the second one was at the top of their budget for finishes. I found this interesting because I began to notice that when choosing finishes the designers at VCave would often times give an option that was at the top of the budget that would be best fit for the space and one under budget that would get the design across but maybe not as well. This gives the client the ability to pick and choose what aspects of the design are most important to them so that they can have an end product they are content with. After picking the wall finishes I met with Haley who had me come up with a reflected ceiling plan for a recreational room she was working on. She explained to me that when using 2×4’s you can never cross the main T and that you typically space them apart 2-3 tiles from the short ends and 3-4 tiles from the long ends.

After my second day at VCave I started to realize that even though you might not be creating crazy abstract designs that the more technical side of design was extremely captivating. After being exposed to more CD’s on my second day and getting to ask more questions about how exactly they approached them I realized that they aren’t that scary! I also began to piece together and realize the importance of the programming document I am working on in Chris Birkentall’s studio. Prior to spring break I did not fully appreciate all the work we were putting into the programming document but after the first two days at VCave I began to appreciate the program document we have been working on.


Over the course of my first two days at VeenendaalCave in Atlanta, GA I observed and learned more than I could have imagined. On my first day Heather Lovern welcomed me and provided me with a schedule for my week. We then attended the Monday morning staff meeting where I was greeted with a warm welcome. At the end of the meeting Christine Veenendaal ended by saying lets continue our friendly environment of positivity.

I then met with Team Tenpenny were I sat in on their individual team Monday meeting. Here they discussed the game plan for the week and the amount of hours each person could spend on each project they were working on. We then moved from the small collaboration area we were sitting in to the Team Tenpenny pod area. Each member of their team took time to sit with me and discuss what it was that they were working on and at what stage in the process they were at. One member of Team Tenpenny, Katie, had me sit in on her discussion with the graphics team where she gave them the plans for the renderings they needed to create.

After meeting with Team Tenpenny I went to lunch with all the UK grads. I had a fabulous time getting to hear from each of them about their experiences in school and how those experiences prepared them for their job at VCave.

After lunch I met with Team Healthcare. I first sat with Brittany Holian, a recent UK graduate. She was working on a CD set on AutoCAD she walked me through what it was she was doing and some more technical things on AutoCAD that I did not know yet. After sitting with Brittany I met with Mary and Amy for a conference call. The call primarily focused on which furniture dealership they would be using for a project they were working on collaboratively. After the conference call I sat with Mary as she reviewed a set of CD’s for Brittany.

After returning home from the first day I was excited to share with my parents about what I had learned from just one day at VCave. I was both excited and disappointed because it was not exactly what I had expected. As students I think we envision this glamorous experience in the workplace, where we get to create complex and rich designs. However, as you quickly learn those projects are the minority when working for a primarily tenant/corporate design firm.

Review | Lichten Craig

Overall, my experience at Lichten Craign was a very positive one. I was able to see how a firm operates on a daily basis and the design process that they go through on their projects. I loved being exposed to such a high level of residential design and it solidified my interest in that area of design. I also loved being in Chicago and in a larger city. I gained a wealth of information and professional experience, in which i feel more comfortable about getting a “big girl” job this summer.

Although I enjoyed Lichten Craig’s small design team I realized that I don’t think I could work with such a small number of colleagues. I thought I would always want to work at a very small firm, I now know that I would like to work at firm that is a little larger. I also realized that I want to work at a firm in which the designers have a little more freedoms to experiment with their designs and can be a little more creative. Lichten Craig has a very specific style of design, which is not a bad thing, but I would like to be able to personalize the designs somewhat more.

Lichten Craig designs beautiful high-end residential spaces and I loved shadowing their designers and observing their design process. It was an eye-opening experience and more than I could have hoped for!

Day v | Lichten Craig

On friday I got to work on Autocad, which, call me crazy, but I could spend hours doing drawings on. On monday, I recorded furniture measurements of existing pieces for a project in which the client wants to maintain her original furniture pieces, so on Friday I was tasked with drawing all of these pieces within the existing Cad floor plan file. I only had the furniture measurements and a small image of each piece to go off of , so it was a bit challenging trying to accurately draw each piece properly. After drawing each piece, I was then able to attempt several floor plan layouts in which the furniture could be arranged in. I really enjoy the space planning aspect of the design process, so this was a really fun experience with a realistic application.


On Friday, I was also fortunate to sit in on a materials meetings. This is when a vendor from the mart, Holland & Sherry, came to the office and showed the newest lines of textiles to the designers. This allows for the designers to see the new lines, and also pick and choose which samples they would like to keep for their library before the lines are launched. This helped me get a better understanding of the types of materials and style of materials that Lichten Craig uses.

The last thing I did during my week at Lichten Craig was head to the materials mart again, but this time I was on my own. I was given a few samples to drop off at different vendors and I was also given a list of materials to pick up and find. Although I was very nervous about this endeavor, I am happy I did it, as it helped me to get out of my comfort zone of having an older designer show me the ropes. I now feel more comfortable and confident approaching vendors and looking for certain materials. This also allowed me to further explore the mart!

Day iii + iv | Lichten Craig

On Wednesday at Lichten Craig I continued to organize and sort through the materials library. I organized their wood selections, stone selections and leather swatches. Although, I was a little bummed to still being working in the materials library, it was great exposure to the types of materials Lichten Craig uses. I sorted the wood into finishes that would be used for furniture and finishes that would be used on flooring and cabinetry. I sorted the stone and leather by color, so it will be easier to find a specific type, as seen in the images below.

Sorting through the rest of the materials took me most of the morning, but in the afternoon I got the change to visit a residence that is about 95 percent complete. The space is occupied by a married couple, located within the Ritz-Carlton. The reason for the visit was to check the fabric on two small benches. The benches were order at different times, so even though the fabric was the same pattern, there were slight variations in the color because of the dye lot. We went back with the original cut of fabric to see which bench matched it, and which bench needed to be reupholstered.

The apartment itself was beautiful, with marble floors, hand-painted silk wallpapers and custom light fixtures in each room. One piece of furniture I found to be both very interesting, but also a little strange was a table in the foyer made of sting ray skin. I have never seen anything like this before, and frankly I had no idea it was possible and it goes to show the clientele of Lichten Craig. The views from the apartment were amazing and I really enjoyed getting to see a piece of Lichten Craigs work in person.

On Thursday I finally got to meet Joan Craig, the Chicago partner of Lichten Craig. She had been in New York and was supposed to be back on Tuesday, however, she got caught in the snow storm and unfortunately our meeting was delayed. Joan is a very very nice yet very intimidating individual. I was told that she is a nice version of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I was able to chat with her for a short while the work she does and the firm that she has built are truly impressive and inspiring to a young designer like myself.

I also went through Morgik metal finishes to make sure the selections in the library were up to date, which I found they were not. I cross referenced the options that were already in the library with the list on the Morgik website, made a spread sheet that listed each finish, the number of pieces that were in the library and the pieces that were missing to help keep the samples organized in the future. As a result of have many samples missing I was charged with contacting Morgik and ordering the samples that were missing.

On Thursday, as they do once a month, the entire firm went out to lunch at a local eatery. This was a great chance to interact with both the designers and architects in a more relaxed environment, as well as experience a local restaurant.

In the afternoon on Thursday I finally got to help pick out material options. The firm is working on another apartment for an older couple and they have a few materials selected for the various rooms, but there were other materials that still needed to be chosen. They had me focus on the materials in the bathrooms within the space. The flooring and countertops were already selected, so I found a variety of options for wall coverings, paint colors, vanity options and shower tiles. This was a really fun experience because I was able to have some freedom in what I was choosing, but it also helped me to better understand the style of Lichten Craig. The image below is of material options for the master bathroom, which has a light blue color scheme, with a light basketweave tile floor and a very beautiful light blue quartz countertop. I choose a variety of wallpaper options ranging from darker blues to white reflective patterns. I also looked at paint colors for the space.