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About the Author
Originally from Morocco, Trish moved to the states mid-way through her youth and has maintained a passion for all things cultural. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she discovered her true passion: design! Trish is currently pursuing her degree in Interior Design at Georgia Southern University, and when she’s not studying or working, Trish likes to travel and try new activities with her son. She’ll be spearheading the upcoming Student Lounge podcast, which will provide resources and wisdom to jump-start the careers of student interior designers. Stay tuned!

Networking at NeoCon: A Student’s Perspective

Networking at NeoCon: A Student’s Perspective

By Trish Semmoum | July 4, 2018

Let me tell you: before NeoCon, I clearly didn’t have a clue of half the things the industry had to offer. At the commercial design market in Chicago, brands showcase everything from flooring and furniture to wallpaper and the latest in digital design tech. Plus, it’s a place where you can network, connect and learn about what the industry has to offer.

When I heard a professor say that NeoCon is the best market for students to attend, I immediately booked my ticket. And with a Chaise Lounge Podcast press pass, there was nothing to hold me back from diving into what I soon learned is an enormous convention and amazing experience. Anyway, I got there 10 minutes before the 9 am start and man, was it crazy in there!

Trying to Navigate…or Being Lost 

Where do I start? No, really…where do I start? I walked in and people were everywhere. I have to say it was extremely overwhelming at first. There were lines —  and I had no idea what they were for — plus doors and stairs leading god knows where. It was like herding cattle, but I guess without the herding part. I have to admit, I found some of the best showrooms from being lost because I would wander until something shiny would catch my eye and of course I would have to go in. And I soon found one of my favorites.

The Porcelanosa Showroom

Ah, “home” — that’s what Porcelanosa feels like to me. (Click here to read about my trip to the Porcelanosa HQ in Spain!) I happened to stumble across Porcelanosa while trying to figure where I should go, and even though I’m just an interior design student, reps from Porcelanosa and other firms took time to help me learn about their products, how they should be used, and even how they are made. Everyone there thought it was great that I was a student and coming to the market, and they told how important it is to educate yourself on what’s out there.

Student Opportunities 

NeoCon had many things to offer students. They had a student charrette ( a competition), ASID student tour ( where they take you to explore certain showrooms), a career advice forum, and a career exchange where they critique your portfolio and resume to connect you with job opportunities. All that to offer, but the low number of students taking advantage was shocking! Most of the ones there were either soon to graduate or just graduated and this was the first time they had been. Why aren’t students taking advantage of these markets? Why are they waiting until graduation for the opportunities that our industry provides us with?

Students: Just Show Up

I cannot express the importance of these experiences. I got to connect with designers, vendors, and students, and there was so much knowledge-sharing. It’s really important to see, in person, what products and brands are shaking up the industry.  And, oh yeah, not to mention champagne and snacks! That should be reason enough to force yourself to go – who says no to free champagne?

Advice For NeoCon

Making it out to next year’s NeoCon? Here are a few tips:

  • Wear sneakers! Your feet will thank you.
  • Network, network, network. We’re all there to learn about the industry, and that begins with the person in line next to you.
  • Have some sort of plan. I felt like I lost a lot of time trying to figure things out while I was there, instead of planning ahead.
  • Get lost! Pencil in free time to get lost. Sometimes, you’ll find the most interesting or useful showrooms/people when you’re just wandering around.
  • It may be 100 degrees outside but take a jacket. Some of those showrooms were an ice box!
  • Wear comfortable clothes. When I did some research on NeoCon a lot of the advice was dress business, business casual, and dress to impress. The first day I dressed business casual and I think it made it harder for me.
  • Get plenty of sleep! Seriously.
  • Go a day earlier to check out the city- I can’t tell you all that it has to offer!

To see more of Porcelanosa’s product line, click here!


Trish Semmoum is an interior design student at Georgia Southern University. She will also be YOUR host the forthcoming podcast The Student’s Lounge. It premieres on July 11. Stay tuned!

Inside Porcelanosa’s Spanish Showroom: A Student’s Perspective

Inside Porcelanosa’s Spanish Showroom: A Student’s Perspective

By Trish Semmoum | June 1, 2018

As an interior design student and a Chaise Lounge Podcast listener, I won an all-expenses-paid trip to Spain in March 2018 to experience Porcelanosa’s Madrid showroom. From Granada to Valencia, Madrid, and Seville, I learned about Spanish culture and enjoyed the company of incredible interior designers while gaining insight into Porcelanosa’s exquisite manufacturing process, showroom and product line! Here’s a guide to what goes on behind this tile maker’s doors, as well as some of the lessons I learned from some of the dozen-and-a-half designers (and one Chaise Lounge podcaster!) that became great travel partners.

Tile Factory

The first building we toured was where the production of tiles took place. We walked through the whole factory as a Porcelanosa representative explained the process and art of creating tile. Being able to see the process of shaping the raw material, coloring, painting, cutting, and heating of the tiles was fascinating and educational. Sorry, but build a bear had nothing on this! I could not believe the process and the effort it took to create ONE tile, let along the millions of tiles they had neatly packaged. There was even an employee at a station checking every single tile to ensure perfection. Each tile was treated as an individual, with care and thought, even though they are mass produced. They do not cut corners!

A Stunning Showroom

After touring the tile factory, we moved on to explore seven of their amazing showrooms, receiving an interactive wristband to scan products for information that was sent to our email. I walked around the showroom scanning everything I had time for as if I was scanning to get onto a roller coaster ride.  From tiles, floors, and lighting to kitchen and bath, I was inspired aesthetically through their luxury design that is both functional and affordable. The products that Porcelanosa offer are all must-haves!

During all of this I am thinking to myself: how did I live without all these my whole life? Their showers, in particular, were incredible. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anyone in our group that wasn’t drooling over the options they had to offer. Like a kid at a candy shop, I was consumed by the shiny, colorful surfaces and all the different products that interacted with all our senses in their showrooms. One thing I loved about Porcelanosa is not only is ALL of their products aesthetically pleasing, they are also functional. They are true problem solvers. For example, consider their toilet design. What is one place on the toilet that is annoying and hard to clean that gets built up? (Okay the whole thing, but really.) The grooves on the sides of the toilet that are at the bottom that are always gross. To solve the problem, they have toilets that don’t have that! Cleaning toilets has never been easier and more sanitary. Or, are you short like me and struggle to reach top cabinets, even on your tippy toes? Guess what? They have top kitchen cabinets that have an easily accessible button to open and close the cabinet.

KRION- My Superhero

We had the pleasure of experiencing a product Porcelanosa calls KRION. KRION was my favorite and just like the name sounds like a superhero, that’s pretty much what it is. It is a solid natural surface that is stain resistant, fire resistant, UV resistant and antibacterial. They demonstrated its characteristics right in front of our eyes — because you really must see it to believe it. Our guide scratched the surface, lit it on fire, and to top it off, he put nail polish on the beautiful white, perfectly clean surface. At the end, he just wiped it clean as if nothing was there. (Ummmm can we create floors like this please?) Finishing our tour, we actually got to work with the material. They heated a piece of the KRION, provided us with gloves and handed it to us to mold as we wished before it cooled.

What I Learned

My Porcelanosa experience has been more than I could ever dream of. Being exposed to Porcelanosa has opened my eyes to the business of interior design. They knew as a student I wouldn’t be buying anything — yet there I was being treated no different than the CEO or worldwide designer next to me. They even went out of their way to give me career advice and fill in gaps on processes that I was not yet exposed to at school.

The wonderful designers I got to go on the trip were just as amazing too and wanted to make sure I understood the process. Such as: “Trish, this bathtub weighs 500 lbs, but the hotel wants it on the 27th floor, how do you get it up there?” (And Porcelanosa even put thought into things like that by offering some big products that break down into manageable pieces.) Not only do they take care of their guests and clients, but they also care about their staff, which makes a world of a difference. Their staff is so vibrant and extremely knowledgeable, something Porcelanosa strives on and takes the time to educate their workers, and in turn, they share their knowledge with us.  I wish that more companies could be like Porcelanosa, connecting with students, because we are the future of the design world.

Making Connections

I constantly hear of how important connections are in the interior design world, even though I have yet to see that in action. Well, I am here to tell you at events you may get 100 different individual cards, so how do you truly make yourself stand out? Porcelanosa stands out and only in the best ways! They treated ALL of their guests, potential clients, clients, and me (the student) the same. They educate you about their products and really care about connecting with each individual. I knew that part of our industry is about connections, but actually experiencing it made a world of a difference and how truly important it is.

The Ultimate Take Away

Porcelanosa has exposed me to things that only expand my creativity and design mind to a place I never thought existed.  I’m a firm believer that, as we become adults, our realistic thinking can really limit our creativity. But on this trip, I rediscovered that inner child in me that aims to be fearless and driven in my designing. Instead of thinking there is no way to tackle a problem, have confidence that you can make your vision a reality. Thank you Porcelanosa for inspiring and nourishing my future career of design!

To see more of Porcelanosa’s product line, click here!