Cori Halpern

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Design that brings your personal style to life.

Monthly Archives: January 2014

graphic diamond

Adventures in Autocad January 26, 2014

drafting equipment

I often make New Year’s resolutions that (like everyone else) I do not keep, but I vowed that this year would be different….my resolution was not to exercise more (although I need to), or to read more books (I need to do that too).  My New Year’s resolution was to be more tech savvy.  This is very hard for me. Yes, I have an iPhone, I text, I email, I Instagram, I even use my iPad and I can download photos to my computer and other devices – but that is about the extent of it.  My very good friend, Janet, is my Social Media Yoda, and has graciously given me tutorials on blogging and Twitter.  It’s just that I happen to have a love/hate relationship with technology.

I went to Ryerson University, in Toronto, and got my degree in Interior Design – it seems like a thousand years ago!  I have been lucky enough to be a working Interior Designer for almost 25 years.  When I was in school, we learned everything that one needed to know about drafting.  It was a skill, and I was very good at it.  I loved the precision, the attention to detail, the crispness of the lines.  For many years, I made my living doing working drawings so that large corporate spaces could be built.  Drafting was an oddly creative outlet for me.  It was perfect for my type “A” personality – neat, organized, and accurate.  Great spaces and the furniture to fill those spaces would be built because of drawings that I had produced.

Then along came AutoCAD.  Computer Aided Design.  It was something that we had heard of during the four years at The School of Interior Design, but we had never seen it.  It wasn’t even very prevalent in the design industry in the few years following my graduation.  Then, I worked for companies that took our drawings and gave them to a draftsperson, and they generated the drawings for us.  Then, I started my own company, specializing in Residential design, and didn’t have much use for AutoCAD.  It was seen as something necessary if you were doing multi-layers in a particular project, usually commercial work.  And seen as something that draftspeople or technicians were experts at.  I thought AutoCAD was more of a technical skill, not a design skill that I would ever require.  I actually even asked a Design colleague several years ago, if she ever used CAD, and she also told me that she never needed it.  On the rare occasion that she did need a drawing, she paid someone to do it for her……so I didn’t think anything of it.

Fast forward to last year… seemed like every time that I turned around AutoCAD was becoming more mainstream, and it was Designers who were using it, and being required to use it, too.  So, I made a decision – I would go back to school.  I would become proficient in AutoCAD.  So, I signed up for a certification course at George Brown College, and I am going to school now every Saturday to get my AutoCAD Certificate!

Let me tell you, it is hard!  Hard to go back to school, hard to work on a PC when all I have ever known is a Mac, hard to remember everything!  But I am enjoying it.  I did well on my first assignment….15/15 Yay!

first AutoCad assignment

My first AutoCAD assignment!

It is not easy, but my teacher is very patient, and my classmates are very sweet.  They have shown me how to turn off and on my computer, and how to save stuff (I’m sure it is not called stuff) onto my memory stick.  Honestly, if you ever want to feel like a complete fossil, go and try something that your kids do all the time!  Sometimes I feel old, although I am not even close to being the oldest in the class.  Other times, I am so proud of myself for reaching outside my comfort zone.  I feel clueless and brilliant at the same time!  Especially when the teacher gives you a handout saying that AutoCAD is “tedious and time consuming”, and that one mistake can ruin EVERYTHING.  How reassuring…

So why am I doing this?? It feels great to accomplish something difficult, something that you never in a million years ever thought that you could do.  My brain is really working, and I actually feel empowered.  When I have completed my certification, my new skills will be able to further benefit my clients, my contractors, and my trades.

And, it actually does feel great to stick to a New Year’s resolution.

Antique teacup and saucer

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to be invited by my good friend, and fellow Designer, Suzanne Davison, to a lovely afternoon of High Tea at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.  It was a charity event, hosted by Homefront Magazine, for Canada Cares, an organization that supports professional and family Caregivers, and recognizes the importance of caregiving to both the quality of life and the well being of our communities.  There were a number of well known and respected people from the Design Community there – suppliers, Designers, and media.

One of the suggestions was that guests could bring a fancy teacup for “show and tell”.  Well lucky me – I must have 50 fancy teacups and saucers.  Some from my grandmother, some from my great-Auntie Bea, some from a family friend.  All beautiful and special to me, and I love them.  I love their unique personalities, their colour, and their simple, elegant beauty.  So, of course I was going to bring one, but which one?  I was disappointed when I saw that my favourite mint green and gold beauty had a chip in it – couldn’t bring that one!  So, I selected a very ornate cup and saucer.  I have no idea why – but this one was truly special.  It was from my grandmother, who died the year after I was born.  I didn’t know her, but have heard that she was a fabulous hostess, baker extraordinaire, and loved a tea party.  So that seemed like a great match.  It would be like she was there with me…

So, my tea cup and I found our seats,  and had a lovely afternoon.  Everyone was invited to come and tell the stories of their tea cups.  We went to stand at the front of the room with our treasures, and one by one, each person told a little story.  Well – each story was more exciting and exotic than the next.  I didn’t have a story!  The other ladies from my table and I exchanged glances….we had not much to tell, but we listened intently to the story about the set of cups and saucers given to an Italian mechanic from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and passed down to the great-niece that was at the podium.  We listened to the published author, who was photographed in her teacup on the cover of her latest book.  And lastly, we listened to the beautiful elderly lady, who was helped up to the podium, as she told the story of how her teacup escaped from Nazi Germany.  We immediately sat down, and applauded this elegant lady’s story, unanimously giving her the prize for the best story.

I thought that was the end of it.  Apparently not.  Two very distinguished ladies from Wm. Ashley’s were also there – seriously judging the teacups!  They ooohed and aaahed over my cup and saucer, examining it, and asking me it’s provenance.  I told them that it was my grandmother’s, but that was all I knew.

After walking around the room, they were ready to make the announcement.  The two ladies stepped up to the podium and announced that after much thought, that there was one very special teacup in the room.  One that stood out from all of the others.  And then they pointed to mine!  I was so excited!  Not only because I have never won anything before, but because it was my special teacup!!  It’s funny, because I had really put so much thought into which one I would bring, and here it was – winning a prize!

The prize itself was lovely (a gift certificate to a hair salon, and a book), but the actual winning was more exciting.  The ladies photographed the teacup and came back to fawn over it a little more, telling me that it was hand painted and admiring the workmanship.  I then wrapped the cup and saucer up very carefully, in my grandmother’s vintage Irish linen napkins, and put them into the little fabric bag that I had transported my treasures in.

On the way home, I thought about my grandmother.  How excited she would have been to have her teacup win a prize.  How beautiful the cup and saucer really were, how special and unique.  How it’s beauty and design have stood the test of time, and is still timeless, decades after it was made.  That is the thing about good design, and about classic and interesting pieces.  They can be appreciated, and used, and loved for many years, by many generations.