IHTTI student in the heart of London design world

Norwegian student Pia Stange is interning for the largest hospitality design firm in the world.

Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) is world-renowned for setting the standards for luxury, comfort and innovation in hospitality interior design and recognized as the number 1 Hospitality Design Firm by Interior Design. An absolute ‘dream opportunity’, Pia Stange is undergoing a 1-year internship in the London office working with the Senior Designers and putting into practice her Master of International Business in Hotel and Design Management from IHTTI.


“This experience is something that I know I will appreciate for the rest of my career. I could not imagine a better start to my professional life. I am truly grateful.”


How did you land this role?
I contacted the Dean of IHTTI and asked for his support when applying to HBA because I knew that he had strong connections there. After his email was sent to the London office, I heard back from HBA right away! They requested my portfolio and CV then invited me for an interview a couple of months later. After my interview they offered me a 12-month internship the very next day.


“Through this experience, I learned that the network you have is very important to use. With the support of my Dean I felt that I was no longer a faceless application amongst thousands of others but had the backing of a reputed school.”


What do you think made you stand out against the competition?
I think it was the variety of work that I had done across hospitality. My background is in retail design from my studies in Oslo before completing my Master of International Business in Hotel and Design Management at IHTTI. My portfolio clearly demonstrates my projects throughout the different stages of design from developing ideas, mood boards, concept creation and material finding. I think they could see the similarities in my work with what was expected from the internship.

It has only been 2 months since you started the role, but what have you learned?
Working with the suppliers has taught me a lot! We work with very high quality suppliers at HBA and it has been very interesting to learn about the new collections and products. I have definitely learned a lot about the different materials used throughout the hotel and the different roles in the design process.

What has been the most interesting part of the role?
The most interesting thing I get to do is sketch different furniture pieces. If a designer has an idea about a piece of furniture but can’t find it, we sketch the concept. They trust me enough to do this and I really enjoy this part of my role!

What are some of your challenges at work?
HBA has a very distinct style, which is used throughout their projects. One of our biggest challenges is to adapt the style across different cultures. Right now we are working on projects in the Maldives, Israel and the United States and we have to approach each market in a very different way.

What advice do you have for IHTTI design students?
I recommend building up your portfolio as much as possible. Through your portfolio, demonstrate the variety your skillset offers. Secondly don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and tell others exactly what you want. There is a lot of strength in your school network and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.

What’s next for you once the internship is finished?
I don’t know where I will be but I know that I will be working in this industry. I am doing my best not to plan too much and to be open to what the future brings me.