A Year Of Discoveries

Completing a 13 month placement at Foster + Partners


The end of a unique placement experience and a long summer holiday ahead must be a good occasion to finally start a blog, right? My 13 months at Foster + Partners have now come to an end and as expected the time has flown and the discoveries about the ‘real’ design world have been plenty.

To give a bit of context, I am an Industrial Design student based in London, and will be returning to university for my final year this September (time to get ‘on the radar’). Over the year at F+P, I have submitted two reports based on personal development and and the work I have done. Writing them has actually been quite useful in practicing my infographics (scattered throughout this post) as well as forcing me to reflect on myself in a serious, structured way.

Admittedly, the role as Sustainability Group Intern remained a bit of a mystery even after my interview, and I could have never expected to learn and get involved in the things I have.

Disseminating the job description vs. daily duties

Evidently, the role was a varied one, defined by a mix of research, team endeavours and support, individual projects, training and various CPDs and guest lectures.Collaboration ranged from working with a colleague from the group, to getting involved with an entirely different department, and it was great to get to know people with differently wired brains and priorities.

My timeline of activities

So where do these discoveries come in? Actually, they can be found within the timeline above- they link to key work I did over the year, and how this has impacted my perception about implementation of sustainability, the creative industry, teamwork, and clients.

Discovery 1: One For the Team
How important teamwork and readiness to support others are in ones own progress and success (getting to know methods and projects, becoming a desirable asset and gaining influence by providing a ‘service’ to the team)

Discovery 2: Love to Research
Building broad knowledge within a holistic approach to sustainability and developing a personal library of useful sources

Discovery 3: How Branding Works
Creating and managing a new brand for the group and how this had a surprisingly big impact on the willingness of people to engage with the complex topic (and often hurdle) of sustainable design

Discovery 4: The Power of Digital
Discovering digital publishing as a shortcut to interactivity and app -like experiences

Discovery 5: Wellbeing Matters
Jumping on the trendy wellbeing wagon and investigating/selling this abstract theme within the practice. What is Wellbeing? How does it manifest itself in tangible design features? How can someone ‘get it’ in a few minutes? The questions were endless…

Discovery 6: ‘Green’ is Challenging
Working on industrial design projects and gaining awareness of key barriers to responsible products and supply chain and stakeholder tensions. (Also becoming familiar with the exciting world of ISO standards and eco-labels)

Discovery 7: Learning is Endless
Be a sponge, have an open mind, and learn more whenever and wherever you can

Discovery 8: London is Great
Re-discovering this fantastic city that helps me live sustainably and with an inspired mind

Each of these influenced the progress I made on my personal aims and overall, I think the year was a success.

Self assessed completion of aims: technical knowledge, proficiency in graphics, interfaces with digital publishing, branding and brand management, 3D modelling skills, presentation skills, speed and decisiveness, gaining confidence

So without re-telling my 4000 word report, that’s what has shaped me for the past year. Not only are my chances of becoming the professional I aspire to be now greater (nowadays something seems to be missing from your degree if you don’t have a year in industry), but I can say that I know what to expect and what I can bring to the table.

…Now I face the Summer Void, and the tension between “I deserve to relax” and “be useful, learn new things, get ready for final year”. Check in for more soon.



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