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The Apprentice Experience - Interview with Amy Rowlands

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Last week, AFL’s first interior design apprentice completed her apprenticeship at the practice. She will be staying on as a trainee before heading to her chosen university this autumn after receiving two unconditional offers.

Amy Rowlands joined the interior design team in 2018 as part of her NVQ Design course at Oldham College. We spoke to Amy about her experience, the highs and the lows, and what the future holds.

"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my apprenticeship at AFL. Everyone is treated the same. I’ve never felt out of place or unable to approach a colleague. I’ve learnt so many new skills and have gained a new focus – I now know for certain this is the job for me. I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone. I feel industry prepared and ready to tackle any challenges."

"I really appreciated how everything was very hands on, letting me learn while doing.

"There was a steep learning curve in the beginning,” Amy says, “figuring out how to use the software, talk to suppliers, and starting to understand the technical, architectural side of interior design. I’m now confident in Sketchup, the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, Microsoft Office, and I’ve had exposure to both AutoCad and Revit."

Associate Director Ben Horobin has been working with Amy throughout her apprenticeship; “She’s come a long way and now knows and understands not just the software but the materials and how to use them. She’s been a credit to the team as the first design apprentice at AFL.”

The practice’s flat hierarchy structure allows for more fluid and dynamic teams, and greater interaction between people.

Apprenticeships are oftentimes associated with small tasks or the shadowing of a more senior team member, but Amy from the start was expected to get involved in every aspect of the design process. She played an integral part of the design of Morson Offices and the Stepping Hill Hospital CT scanner reception space, from the initial concept designs and mood boards to the presentation, delivery and completion of the project.

"Apprenticeships are an opportunity for the company to give back to the community, to help guide and nurture young talent to success. There is a strong advantage in apprenticeships for students who have a strong calling to one profession or the other. It solidifies this intent in them, and creates strong, passionate, and capable individuals.”"
Ben Horobin, Associate Director, Interior Design

University will provide an entirely new experience: one wherein budget and client desires are placed to one side and creativity is encouraged in a completely different way.

An apprenticeship creates a solid practical foundation, allowing space for Amy and other future apprentices to focus on design theory.

AFL’s approach is the same for our apprentices and graduates alike; through exposure to real clients and briefs, we instil a commonsense approach that is carried with them throughout their careers.

"AFL have been very supportive towards Amy’s studies. Amy’s skills have developed greatly as a young designer but most of all her confidence has grown in all areas and I feel this is due to the people at AFL making her feel part of the team and sharing their own skills and experiences with her. This is the best education an apprentice can get."
Amanda Walker, Oldham College

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