__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

VIRGINIA TECH INTERIOR DESIGN

THE EDIT

PROGRAM NEWSLETTER

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

R E C A L I B R AT I O N


ON THE COVER graphic by

Lila De La Rosa (‘21)

Visit https://archdesign.caus.vt.edu/itds/ for more information.


C o n n e c t i n g t h e p a s t , p re s e n t , a n d f u t u re o f Vi rg i n i a Te c h I n t e r i o r D e s i g n .


VIRGINIA TECH INTERIOR DESIGN

ISSUE - 04

Since the release of Issue 03, we bid farewell to the lives we

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

considered “normal.” With minimal warning, many people were forced to adapt to a new way of life, changing the way we work, live, and go about our everyday lives. Rather than attempting to revert back to the “old ways,” we believe it is time for reconsideration, regeneration reconsideration regeneration, and recalibration recalibration.

We’re faced with the opportunity to reevaluate our ways of thinking, in favor of making positive changes in our personal lives and the greater community. In what ways can we take action and work to take steps toward a more diverse and inclusive society? What role does the design industry play in this effort, and what does the future hold for design and education?

Issue

04

encourages

designers,

educators,

students,

and

community members to celebrate resiliency, embrace change and

new

perspectives,

and

to

recognize

the

countless

opportunities for those with a background in design. The stories in this issue highlight versatility and constant adaptation, adaptation regardless of which direction we choose to grow.

PROGRAM NEWSLETTER

R E C A L I B R AT I O N


12

A Message from the Program Chair

Meet the Virginia Tech Advisory Board

16

18

20

Welcoming Aaron Betsky to the School of Architecture + Design

A (Not So Typical) Day in the Life of an Interior Design Student

Alternative Paths: Design-Build Internship

22

24

Diversity + Inclusion: A Faculty Member’s Perspective

Awards and Recognition

I II . ALUMNI

32

34

Diversity + Inclusion: An Alumnae’s Perspective

Alternative Paths: Alumni Stories

IV. C RED ITS

48

49

Acknowledgements and Contributors

How to Get Involved

II. STUDENTS

I. INTRO

11


FA L L - ‘ 2 0

PROGRAM NEWSLETTER

VIRGINIA TECH INTERIOR DESIGN

I. - INTRO 11

12

A Message from the Program Chair

Meet the Virginia Tech Advisory Board


10

ISSUE - 04


PROGRAM CHAIR’S MESSAGE

Greetings from Virginia Tech! As you might expect, this semester has been a continuation of our rapid pivot to online learning in March. We made a commitment over the summer that any student who wanted a desk in Burruss from which to work would have one. Working with the University Registrar and safety officers, we developed a plan with staggered studio times and access times by year. This allows us to meet the university restrictions of 10 or 12 students at any given time in a single studio space. Faculty also had the choice to teach remotely or in person. One new faculty member was unable to get into the US at all and has been teaching from Bahrain! Needless to say, this has forced us all to be flexible, resilient and creative in how we do things. The good news is, the students are producing excellent work and the education—despite great changes in modalities of delivery—has maintained the high level we expect from Virginia Tech interior design. The Zoom pin up format has allowed us to integrate alumni and practitioners from around the country (and world) into the studio and has provided outside voices that we might not have been able to hear from in our standard 1-5pm studio format. So, while we have missed seeing each other in person as much as normal times, we have been able to harness the best things about this experience that we can. We sincerely appreciate all of the support from everyone who has contributed his/her expertise and time to our students! Lisa Tucker, PhD Professor and Chair

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

11


MEET THE VIRGINIA TECH A D V I S O RY B O A R D

C A ROLI NE ALEXAND E R Board Chair

L I SA B R O CK MA N Membership Chair

A M Y G R OOM E Alumni Network Chair

H E AT H ER ROBIN S ON Sponsorship Chair

CCA LLC, Lexington, VA

Bialek, Washington, D.C.

Interior Architects, San Francisco, CA

Within Interior Design, Norfolk, VA

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘90

Miami University, Marketing ‘89 Marymount University Interior Design ‘97

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘17

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘98

caroline.alexander403@gmail.com

lbrockman@bialek.com

a.groome@interiorarchitects.com

HRobinson@withindesigns.com

LI NDS EY KI TE Secretary, Alumni Network

FI O N A G R A N D O W S KI Sponsorship Committee

C H RIS T Y G A RRIT Y Sponsorship Committee

FA RRA H G OA L Alumni Network Committee

INTEC Group Inc., Fairfax, VA

Collins Cooper Carusi, Atlanta, GA

OTJ, Washington, D.C.

Gensler, Washington, D.C.

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘11

Virginia Tech Architecture ‘91

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘XX

Virginia Tech Interior Design

lkite@intecgroup.net

FGrandowski@collinscoopercarusi.com

christyg514918@icloud.com

farrah_goal@gensler.com

12

ISSUE - 04


L I SA T U C KER Professor and Program Chair, Virginia Tech Interior Design

J ES S Y KIL BY Membership Committee

IR WIN GUEC O Board Member

AECOM

National Gallery of Art

ltucker@vt.edu

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘02

Drexel Interior Design ‘86 The Catholic University of America, Arch ‘99

SCOTT M O O N E Y Sponsorship Committee

MA R I E M OU T S OS Membership Committee

KR IS T EN P F IS T E R Alumni Network Committee

M A RC Y T REP K E Alumni Network Committee

Muse Architects, Bethesda, MD

FOX Architects, Washington, D.C.

Steelcase, Denver, CO

Gensler, Washington, D.C.

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘07

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘95

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘95 smooney@musearchitects.com

mmoutsos@fox-architects.com

kpfister@steelcase.com

mtrepke@outlook.com

KELSEY MU I R Alumni Network Committee

K E L LY S IM C OX Alumni Network Committee

V IEN N A ROM E S BU R G Sponsorship Committee

Lillian Wu Studio, New York, NY

Interface

Washington and Lee University

L IL A D E LA ROS A Student Liason Alumni Network Committee

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘19

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘04

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘97

Virginia Tech Interior Design ‘21

kelseymuir@vt.edu

kelly.simcox@interface.com

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

lilad7@vt.edu

13


FA L L - ‘ 2 0

PROGRAM NEWSLETTER

VIRGINIA TECH INTERIOR DESIGN

II. - STUDENT NEWS 16

18

20

Welcoming Aaron Betsky to the School of Architecture + Design

A (Not So Typical) Day in the Life of an Interior Design Student

Alternative Paths: Design-Build Intership

22

24

Diversity + Inclusion: A Faculty Member’s Perspective

Awards and Recognition


WELCOMING AARON BETSKY TO THE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN

Amidst changes in the School of Architecture and Design at Virginia Tech this year in response to Covid-19, the program also happily welcomed a new school director, Aaron Betsky. Betsky brings to the school a rich design background from teaching at the School of Architecture at Taliesin, the University of Cincinnati, University

author and critic on art, architecture and design. The School of Architecture and Design is one of four schools under the umbrella of CAUS, the others including the School of Visual Arts, Myers Lawson School of Construction, and the School of Planning and International Affairs. A+D

of Kentucky, the Taubman School of Architecture

is made up of four disciplines: Architecture,

and Design at the University of Michigan, Rice

Interior Design, Industrial Design and Landscape

University, Columbia, and SCI-Arc in Southern

Architecture. Betsky envisions a future for Virginia

California. Along with many years of experience

Tech A+D that ties these four disciplines together

in academia, Betsky also served as director of

even tighter, and celebrates the cross-disciplinary

the Cincinnati Art Museum, and is an acclaimed

nature of design.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech CAUS

16

ISSUE - 04


Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech CAUS

We had the pleasure of *virtually* sitting down

intended to encourage the overlap of disciplinary

with our new director at the kickoff of the Fall

knowledge.

2020 semester, with a curiosity about Betsky’s past as well as his thoughts for the program’s future.

Betsky spoke of a future for A+D that focuses on “how to make the human-made environment more

We couldn’t help but ask if Betsky saw any

sustainable...

beautiful,”

by

more

working

on

open...

and

projects

more

together

opportunities for positive change in the face of

rather than in the silos of Interiors, Architecture,

the global pandemic, and what education’s role

Industrial

should be in this unprecedented time. While he

in the school right now is that of health and

was understandably hesitant to give a prediction

wellness, and there have been initiatives to work

on a post-Covid society, he emphasized the

with Carilion Clinic in nearby Roanoke on some

question

and

Landscape.

A

pertinent

topic

safe

interdisciplinary design. Closer to home, the four

and still open to connecting with others and

disciplines put their heads together to strategize

the outside world.” He referenced a whimsical

on the “back-to-studio” transition for the Fall

video

that

2020 semester to develop an environment that

depicts a post-pandemic world that sheds the

is both safe for students and staff, and maintains

unsustainable habits of our past for a society that

the collaborative culture of Cowgill, Burchard,

refocuses on human connection and authenticity.

and Burruss.

of

“how

called

environments

“The

Great

can

be

Realisation”

This time has amplified the importance of social

We are inspired by Betsky’s, and the School of

gathering and connection, and small changes

A+D’s optimism about the future and dedication

within the school such as bringing all program

to curating a rich design education in a difficult

chairs together under the Cowgill Hall roof are

present.

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

17


A ( N O T S O T Y P I C A L ) D AY I N T H E L I F E O F A N INTERIOR DESIGN STUDENT

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, students have had to find normalcy in their transition into a virtual-hybrid class format. Robin Tenhoor, a second year interior design student, outlines a typical day in the life in this new mode of learning.

9:00

AM

“I’ll wake up around 9AM, and maybe do some yoga

FIRST ZO OM M A 0 C :1 LA 0 1

if I wake up on the right side of the bed.”

S S

OF

0PM - LU N

C H !

THE

:3 12

D AY

“My studio at the moment is my desk at my house, so I do most of my work here, but I’ll move to my living room when it gets past 10 pm right before a pinup.”

18

ISSUE - 04


S

“I love going to the farmers market on Wednesday and Saturdays, followed by

A

IP

R’

a long walk around Blacksburg since it is so

RK

beautiful this time of year.”

ET

1:30PM TR

E FA R M E

M

TO

TH

3:00PM - S TU

D

IO

Q: How have you adjusted to collaborating with studio classmates

7: also have a smaller group chat with some of my close friends in studio where we’re constantly in communication, and our sophomore class has a GroupMe chat where comments, or deadline helpful.”

L

reminders which is always

RO L

everyone sends questions,

MPUS S + CA T

chats most of the time. I

IL

LD

my studio via Zoom or group

DR

IE

“I collaborate with others in

M 0P

NER ON TH E

LF

and in-person?

0

now that classes are hybrid virtual

IN - D

Photos courtesy of Robin Tenhoor (‘23)

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

19


A LT E R N AT I V E PAT H S Design-Build Internship

The

interdisciplinary

nature

of

the

design

02 - How did your education in interior design

program equips students with a multifaceted

assist you in your role? Was there any overlap

skill set that is specialized yet encompassing

between your education and practice?

- providing opportunity in a variety of roles.

My ability to learn technical and creative softwares

Rebecca Sorto-Robles (‘21) speaks about her

such as Revit, SketchUp, and Adobe Creative

recent internship with Jordan Design Build

Cloud really developed at Virginia Tech. I felt that

Group of Fairfax, Virginia.

particular software program that the design-build

01 - Tell us a little about the company you interned for and some of the responsibilities for your role.

company designed with. 03 - Describe the collaborative process when working with others in different disciplines/roles.

It was a unique experience to observe how a

Did you feel you had any particular strengths in

design-build firm works, and the collaboration

the group dynamic?

that

occurs

with

multiple

different

teams.

Since Jordan Design Build Group is a small firm, I was able to have a firsthand look at the many roles the designers play a part in.

Designers are creative problem solvers. When working certain

on

a

conflicts

design-build that

may

team, arise

there

are

during

the

construction phase and during client interactions

During my internship, I engaged in marketing

that designers can best address. My experience

meetings and even provided content for the

at JDBG demonstrated how working with other

marketing team. I also joined weekly check-in

disciplines can teach designers additional skills

meetings with the master plumber, designer, and

and knowledge. Additionally, by observing how

project managers; this meeting gave a high-level

things are build on site, designers can better

overview of the status of projects. It was amazing

understand the importance of how clear design

to see how valuable designers are during the

development at the beginning of a project can

build phase, having the ability to see their design

affect the entire design process.

develop and aid in providing solutions.

20

this enabled me to quickly learn how to use the

As a intern, I feel that my strength was in bringing

Another task (and one of my favorites) I was able

new, innovative ideas to the table and assisting

to perform and practice was interior photography.

with problem solving. When working in close

Capturing a space not only aids in documenting

collaboration with other disciplines, you realize

a project’s progress, but can be used as a

that everyone’s ideas are valid when seeking

marketing tool to showcase the company’s work

solutions - JDBG did an excellent job of making

and attract future clients.

me feel valued as an intern.

ISSUE - 04


04 - What are some key takeaways from your experience? Collaboration is key in making a project flow smoothly. When everyone is on the same page from the start of a project and there is clear communication between teams, a project has less hiccups. This was actually my second internship where I chose an “alternative path” from the traditional interior designer career. After my sophomore year, I interned for a construction management firm where I learned about project management and estimating. Coincidentally, the experience I gained during that time were applicable in my internship at JDBG. I believe that both internships not only helped me figure out what I would like to do in the interior design industry, but also provided unique experiences that will enable me to stand out as a interior designer.

Photos courtesy of Rebecca Sorto (‘21)

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

21


DIVERSITY + INCLUSION: A FA C U LT Y M E M B E R ’ S P E R S P E C T I V E

The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force at Virginia Tech is an evolving effort to address diversity, equity and inclusion within the School of Architecture and Design. Elif Tural, Assistant Professor of Interior Design, speaks on the working group and its place within the program.

01 - When was the Diversity and Inclusion Committee formed? Who participates in it? [The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force] is a working group formed over the summer, as part of Aaron Betsky’s agenda of addressing the diversity, equity, and inclusion issues within the School. It is also related to the efforts going on at the College level. The current members include: C.L. Bohannon,

Ph.D.,

ASLA

(Associate

Professor,

Landscape Architecture), Elham Morshedzadeh, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Industrial Design), Jim Bassett

(Associate

Sharóne

Tomer,

Professor,

Ph.D.

Architecture),

(Assistant

Professor,

Architecture), Lisa Tucker and myself on behalf of the Interior Design Program. 02 - Describe your current role within the committee. The committee focuses on D+I issues at multiple

within their course content (lecture and studio), pedagogical

approaches,

but

also

through

faculty-student interactions. The end goal is to come up with strategies to address the issues identified by faculty members’ self-assessments, and through input from student, alumni, and advisory board members. While these are issues I have always been passionate about, due to the momentum from the recent events, there is increased awareness and support for more diverse, equitable and inclusive design practice and education.

levels: curriculum, school culture, and faculty and

22

student recruitment and retention. I am part of

03 - What are your hopes for our program,

the curriculum subcommittee with CL, Sharone,

and how do you see our discipline evolving in

and Elham. Our goal is to assess how the

response to this effort?

various programs in the School respond to D+I

We are critically assessing what we are doing

ISSUE - 04


and how we can improve the program. This

D I V E R S I T Y + I N C L U S I O N TA S K F O R C E AT T H E S C H O O L O F ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN

is also the time design industry acknowledges the need to diversify the profession and to be more inclusive, our hope is to be proactive in recognizing how to make our curriculum not only

A RE A S O F FO CUS : - CU L T U RE WI T HI N S CHO O L A N D I ND I VI D U A L PRO G RA M S - CUR RI CUL UM FO R E A CH O F T H E FO U R PR O G RA M S

anti-racist, but also more inclusive appreciating the different identities, backgrounds, and needs of our students. Since the interior design schools and

professional

organizations

are

becoming

more vocal regarding the lack of diversity, and

- RE CR UI T I NG D I VE R S E FA CUL T Y

implicit or explicit biases that have shaped the

- RE CR UI T I NG D I VE R S E S T UD EN T S

design professions and their education, I think we will see actions at multiple levels that will enrich

SUR VE YS + D I S CUS S I O NS A schoolwide s choolwide survey has been conducted to get responses from the community about the current state of diversity and inclusion in the school and the programs. One town hall to discuss this initiative

the profession, and its education and practice. 04 - How do you feel that your diverse experiences have shaped you as a professor and translated into your teaching methods?

took place in early November and another

That’s a tough question. Initially, I don’t think I was

is scheduled to take place to reveal the

really aware in the beginning. My professional

findings of the survey.

architectural background was also based on the

Interior Design is undertaking additional

Bauhaus tradition, which is not necessarily diverse.

measures. All faculty are looking at their

As I moved around, have been in various contexts,

courses through the lens of providing examples, lectures and projects that are more inclusive. The program chair has scheduled a series of small forums groups to discuss issues

that

changes.

could

Topics

inform include:

curricular affordable

interacted with people from various backgrounds, read more about the topic, and went through diversity training, I became more aware of my own and others’ biases - but also the richness that comes from diversity. I got to appreciate the value everyone brings to the table as we

housing, climate change, interdisciplinary

collectively shape the built environment. As for

projects, diversity in the curriculum and

my teaching, I think that brings an understanding

history.

of how my teaching should incorporate a non-

F E E D B A CK Please feel free to email Lisa Tucker (ltucker@vt.edu) with any thoughts or

hierarchical, collective and collaborative design process and learning, valuing different voices, experiences and perspectives of each student.

feedback.

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

23


AWA R D S & R E C O G N I T I O N

P H O E N I X P U B L I C L I B R A RY A S I D / I I D A I D E A S AWA R D S Alessandra Shorten (‘21) receives Honorable Mention in ASID/IIDA student design competition

The annual ASID/IIDA Student IDEAS Design Competition highlights the work of student members in the IIDA Virginia/West Virginia Chapter and ASID Virginia Chapter. Fourth-year Interior Design student, Alessandra Shorten, details the inspiration behind her design of the Phoenix Public Library. The Phoenix Public Library is inspired by the natural springs found amidst the dry Arizona desert. These

springs

act

as

“hot-spots”

to

unique vegetation and animal species. Amidst these hot-spots, species continuously grow and flourish. In

a

world

full

of

knowledge,

access

to

resources can be difficult for some. Similar to how the springs in Arizona act as “hot spots” for unique species amidst the desert climate, the library offers resources that are often unavailable elsewhere. The library provides access to unique resources for anybody in the community; it is a rare opportunity where anyone and everyone is welcome and benefits from the same experience of growth.

24

reference area (reference collection, tutor and

This idea of growth amongst resources is directly

study rooms), the book stack area (non-fiction,

portrayed onto the floor plan by highlighting

fiction, children and juvenile), and the staff area

these resource ‘hot-spots’ where a wide range

(check-out,

of individuals may gather. gather This is achieved by

Here, users and vegetation will grow in harmony.

guest

services,

staff

workroom).

incorporating three main atrium-like spaces which

Incorporating desert plants is an opportunity to

house local Arizona desert plants. The three

introduce a unique element into a library, and

main resources that are highlighted include the

gives a sense of identity to Phoenix. Phoenix

ISSUE - 04


Photos courtesy of Alessandra Shorten (‘21)

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

25


AWA R D S & R E C O G N I T I O N

P H O E N I X P U B L I C L I B R A RY: P O C K E T S O F L I G H T A S I D / I I D A I D E A S AWA R D S Julia King (‘21) wins First Place in ASID/IIDA student design competition

The annual ASID/IIDA Student IDEAS Design

Phoenix

Competition highlights the work of student

takes inspiration from Antelope Canyon, Canyon a slot

members in the IIDA Virginia/West Virginia

canyon

Chapter and ASID Virginia Chapter.

Canyon. Named by the Navajo “Tsé bighánílíní,”

Julia King receives First Place for her project, Phoenix Public Library: Pockets of Light, which takes inspiration from Antelope Canyon, a scenic slot canyon located just north of Phoenix, Arizona.

Public located

Library: north

of

Pockets Phoenix,

of near

Light Glen

meaning “the place where water runs through rocks,” this canyon of sandstone is the product of millions of years of water erosion. Viewing the slot canyon from above does not amount to the experience of walking through it underneath. As light beams shine through the slim openings at the top of the canyon, they reveal themselves on the ground below only for moments before disappearing once the sun shifts. The design draws from the canyon’s “wave-like walls, swirling colors and moments of perfect timing,” while embracing the natural essence of a library. The space features pockets of light as landmarks that are emphasized through a distinctive vertical pull. Upon entering the library, the user finds pull themselves within the first “pocket of light,” a reception area highlighted by a cove ceiling and a hovering mass (see right hand spread), representative of the seemingly monumental yet gentle sandstone walls of Antelope Canyon. The

view

of

the

mezzanine

from

above

is

representative of how the Antelope Canyon is seen from higher elevations, barely a sliver in the ground’s surface. The mezzanine takes the shape of three interlocking structures that allow for the movement of users beneath them.

26

ISSUE - 04


Photos courtesy of Julia King (‘21)

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

27


AWA R D S & R E C O G N I T I O N

THE LOOP A S I D / I I D A I D E A S AWA R D S Claire Grable (‘20) wins First Place in ASID/IIDA student design competition

The annual ASID/IIDA Student IDEAS Design

has an unusual boomerang shape that defines

Competition highlights the work of student

the

members in the IIDA Virginia/West Virginia

landmarks (such as the rides) act as a source of

Chapter and ASID Virginia Chapter. Claire Grable, a recent graduate of the Interior

layout.

In

a

typical

amusement

park,

wayfinding through the area. Similar to this, three main corners in the space define a path that guides the user through the hotel. These corners

Design program, discusses the design inspiration

are defined by structure and materiality to really

behind her award-winning boutique hotel, The

define parts of the space and create an easily

Loop, located in Melbourne, Australia.

navigable way through it. Another element I abstracted is the idea of a

Q - How did you decide on the concept?

28

ferris wheel and the vertical circulation it creates. As a central component of an amusement park,

Luna Park, located a few blocks away from the

the ferris wheel provides 360 views of an area

project site in St. Kilda (Melbourne, Australia),

from all different heights. An atrium is used as a

served as the inspiration for The Loop. This park,

way to have guests see the space from various

which is the oldest amusement park in Australia,

levels, just as they would on a typical ferris

ISSUE - 04


wheel. This atrium goes all the way through the

on the site and the hotel industry in general. My

building to bring light into the space, act as a

thesis focus was human behavior, and how the

central component to circulate around, and offer

decisions you make can directly impact people

a shift in scale to the first level when guests enter

using

the hotel.

considering things like color, materiality, lighting,

Q - What did you enjoy most about the project?

the

space.

Basically,

this

amounts

to

and even things like air quality and temperature control that make people feel more at home and

I learned so much during this project, especially

relaxed. This was the funnest project I worked

how much research can impact the decisions you

on while in school, I think because I actually had

make. There are so many little details I would have

enough time to really get into the research and

missed had I not put in the time to do research

work on the front end.

Photos courtesy of Claire Grable (‘20)

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

29


FA L L - ‘ 2 0

PROGRAM NEWSLETTER

VIRGINIA TECH INTERIOR DESIGN

III. - ALUMNI 32

34

Diversity + Inclusion: An Alumnae’s Perspective

Alternative Paths: Alumni Stories


DIVERSITY + INCLUSION: AN ALUMNAE’S PERSPECTIVE

In addition to hearing from the Interior Design

Are professors [and the prescribed curriculum]

program about their efforts to address D+I in the

equally highlighting projects that are accessible

studio and classroom, Interior Design alumnae

and socially responsible (i.e. community centers,

Nadia Colquiett (‘16) shares her perspective as a black female both in design education and her career in the commercial A+D industry.

affordable

housing),

as

much

as

private homes or glitzy offices that gentrify and increase social inequalities within cities? Are there courses exploring how architecture, interior

01 - What are some ways design education can improve in supporting equal opportunities for BIPOC students and faculty?

design, and planning have [historically] been used to discriminate or dehumanize? We do a massive disservice to the future of our industry when critical thinking, empathy, and challenging

Coming from someone who was the only black

the status quo are not integrated into design

person in their class I can confidently say that

education.

[there is a] blatant lack of representation [in design education]. Taking an honest look at who is doing the teaching and who is coming to design school is the first step. [Design programs

02 - Have you faced any barriers in your education or career on the basis of race or gender?

need to ask:] “Are people of color applying

I know there are internships and jobs I did not

and not being accepted into design programs?

get due to my appearance as a black woman

Are they even applying?” [College chairs and

(my name/voice lend some ambiguity). This is a

admissions departments need to] speak to HBCU’s

typical experience for qualified people of color

(historically black colleges and universities) [and]

looking for design jobs. I have had to tiptoe

other colleges worldwide with design programs

around almost daily, biting my tongue when

that have higher enrollment of people of color,

people say racist and discriminatory things, or

women and people with various gender identities,

else be labeled as: defensive, angry, a diva, hard

sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds,

to work with, etc.

etc. about what they’ve done [to facilitate a more inclusive environment].

32

museums,

Personally, I put a lot of pressure on myself to stand out, prove my value, and grow at work.

In terms of actual coursework, we need to uplift

This is not a unique set of characteristics. The

the

genders

difficulty arises when the layers of my identity are

and non-white cultures. These individuals have

designers

of

color,

of

different

added, particularly because I am often the only

always existed, but their stories are rarely told,

black person in the room. I can choose to be my

and their designs are never held on the same

full self and open myself to a world of criticism

pedestal as white men.

or I can be a version of myself that is pleasing

ISSUE - 04


“It can only make us better designers to learn more about other people’s perspectives, no matter how uncomfortable that learning may be.” that we can be seen as essential elements of our communities, the list can go on forever. If a workplace is toxic to minority groups (which may be why they are not there in the first place), it is up to leadership to hire professionals that assess the workplace and give everyone in the office the tools and language to truly accept people who are different. This way, when a person who is a part of one or more minority groups enters the office, they feel welcomed rather than “othered.” Personal education is a big part of this, and it is not easy. It can only make us better designers to learn more about other people’s perspectives, no to the stringent rules about how a black person

matter how uncomfortable that learning may be.

should act in a professional environment. It is

04 - Have you seen any positive progress

not an easy choice. I have recognized that the

over these recent months….years? What is your

perceived limitations on my abilities come from

message to fellow designers of color… what is

internalized societal messages telling me who a

your message to white colleagues?

black woman should be. I have forced myself

To folks of color: Recognize the power in your

to be happy doing work that does not fill me up because being in the room still feels revolutionary.

voice and your experience. It is imperative that you never forget your power or fall into the traps

I am haunted by the familiar feeling of “I should

this world has set for us to make us feel less than.

be grateful to be here,” that stops [myself and

Do not apologize or feel guilty for taking the time

many] people from demanding what [we] deserve.

you need to take care of yourself when life gets

03

-

How

can

the

design

industry

take

part in actionable change and go beyond the conversations around equity? Pay

transparency

for

all

overwhelming. To white people: recognize that asking black people to do the emotional labor of pointing out your racism, for free and with no perceivable benefits to them, is not acceptable.

employees,

hiring

Do your research, start meaningful dialogues in

qualified people of color for leadership positions,

the homogeneous spaces you may find yourself

looking at hiring practices to determine biases

in, and advocate for your coworkers of color.

(this includes expanding your network), pro bono

Most of all, keep fighting for equality even after

work, giving designers paid time to volunteer so

the hashtags and hype die down.

Photo courtesy of Nadia Colquiett (‘16)

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

33


A LT E R N AT I V E PAT H S : A L U M N I S T O R I E S A Glimspe into the Various Career Paths of Virginia Tech Interior Design Alumni It’s no secret that the talent economy is more competitive than ever before. There are skills that we learn in the Interior Design program that can be applied in many different roles throughout our careers. For example, how can we use design thinking or the creative process in the technology or healthcare industries? In this issue we hear from several VT ITDS alumni who have changed directions in their career path about how they have applied those skills to a “non-traditional” design job.

34

ISSUE - 04


FA L L - ‘ 2 0

35


in a row. Learning how to stand in front of my peers

WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

and present my design ideas in school was always

& INTERIOR DESIGNER

scary, but there are so many valuable lessons there. What lessons learned from this pandemic might inform

L E IG H A NN B U RD E T T

how you look at design in the future?

C LA S S O F 2 016

Being flexible is key! I’m sure we’ve all learned a

I NT ER I O R D ES I GN

great deal about being able to pivot in light of our current situation. Design touches all aspects of our

Describe your current role and how it differs from traditional commercial interior design.

lives. Whether we are working in a large office or settled in our home behind a Zoom call. No matter where we’re “sitting” to get our work done, a nice,

I am currently working as a wedding photographer in

comfortable environment aids in productivity and

the DC metro area. I grew my business on the side

that’s where good design will always play a role.

while I worked as a commercial interior designer at a large firm. After 4 years I left the firm and pursued my photography business full time. Over the last year I have also been taking on small design jobs. This has included a master bath renovation, a furniture package for a small Title Company, Center,

full

and

re-design several

of

a

residential

Physical

JU S T I N C A S T I LLO C L A S S O F 20 12 IN TE R IO R DE S IG N

Therapy

projects.

I

SPECIFICATION

am

REPRESENTATIVE

currently working on a large master bath/master bedroom renovation. Were there any impactful events that led you to where

Describe your current role and how it differs from

you are in your career?

traditional commercial interior design.

While I was in school, I loved the freedom to pursue

I work with architects, designers, fabricators and my

projects of all types. I think our time in school

sales team to provide the A+D community with the

closely models what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. I

most current products and finishes that my company

missed that feeling. While I’ve always had AMAZING

offers.

mentors in the industry and educators at school, I had to come to this new career path on my own. The culmination of mentors in my life were enthusiastic

What impactful events led you to where you are in your design career?

about my new career goals - they helped me feel

I met with a Specification Representative, Kee Miller,

like this scary step would be OK.

who introduced me to the industry and taught me

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from the Interior Design program that you still use in your current role?

what a rep was. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, and I have been a Spec Rep for 8 years now with some of the top companies in the nation.

So many things! I think one of the best things I

36

learned in school was how to present myself. While

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from the

working as a wedding photographer I have to be ON

Interior Design program that you still use in your current

all day. It is almost like a presentation for 8 hours

role?

(continues on following page)

ISSUE - 04


Pay attention to the details of any industry or project.

including

That has helped me to appreciate so many different

general design process, and my LEED prep class.

aspects of life, help me continue to have an open

The materials and methods class has been so

mind and help me discover different passions in my

important just to know how each material performs

life.

and what its best uses are.

It led me to improv, voice over and acting...

the

materials

and

methods

class,

the

The design process

performing and entertaining as a tool sharing my

is so crucial to basic understanding of design.

gifts with the world.

remember thinking how the first year of studio was

What words of advice might you have for someone considering a pivot in their design career?

I

so abstract and wondered how it could apply to real life, but now I think it has helped me to see how an abstract concept can turn into a built design, creating

Have an open mind, don’t be attached to any one

a cohesive environment with little glimpses of the

outcome, do your research and know what you are

concept peeking through.

getting yourself into, follow your heart and your

class led me to get LEED certified which has been

passions.

very important in my current job as the university

Finally, my LEED prep

highly regards sustainability. What lessons learned from this pandemic might inform how you look at design in the future?

INTERIOR DESIGNER

I think one of the biggest challenges with the pandemic has been the distancing aspect. So much

S T E FA NI E LO C K LE A R

of design focuses on maximizing the amount of

C LA S S OF 20 12

people that can fit into a space.

We see this in

restaurant, education, corporate, and even residential

I NT ER I O R DE S IG N

design.

However, with the pandemic, we have

needed to distance ourselves which has reduced How does your current role differ from traditional commercial interior design?

For six years, I worked in a typical design firm doing commercial and high-end residential design. Today, I work for Virginia Tech in the Office of University Planning as their interior designer.

This role is not

your typical design position, however. I’m kind of on the flip side of design now, where I’m more of the client than the designer. and

new

campus.

construction

I review every renovation project

that

happens

on

Architects and designers present to me.

I

make sure that what they are proposing is in keeping with the university standards and design principles and that the materials they choose are consistent throughout campus and will hold up to students. Is there a specific skill you learned from the Interior Design program that you still use in your current role?

There are actually several lessons I go back to

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

building occupancies significantly.

I think this will

challenge designers to re-think open office spaces, “hoteling” spaces, and even classroom teaching strategies in the future. Designers will need to think about how to make multi-functional spaces that are versatile to meet many of these needs in the lifetime of the design. Do

you

have

any

words

of

advice

for

someone

considering a pivot in their design career?

I say, “Go for it!” Life is too short to be working a job you hate or one that is compromising how you live.

If you are scared, just take the risk - you will

never know what you are actually capable of unless you take the leap. Sometimes finding your perfect job is all about being creative to make a position that works for you.

If that position doesn’t exist

now, create it! [...] The beauty of design is that it is everywhere; you just have to figure out which part of the process you want to be a part of.

37


appropriate solution to that problem. This is what my

SENIOR ASSOCIATE

career is built upon. Secondly, it’s critical to have the

PROJECT ARCHITECT

ability to take criticism, absorb it, and improve your

M A T T HE W D UNC A N

daily, and as a Project Architect, it is my job to

C LA S S OF 2011

design. I am confronted with dozens of problems produce an appropriate response to those problems.

I NT ERI OR D ES I GN C LA S S OF 2016

To take that process a step further, these solutions I

M. A RC H I T EC T URE

propose may not always be correct. This is where it becomes important to understand how to recognize

Describe your current role and how it differs from traditional commercial interior design.

My

role,

particularly

architecture, building’s

in

involves

envelope,

multifamily and

criticism,

and

use

that

information

to

make

an

improvement to the design.

the

full

What words of advice might you have for someone

structure,

but

considering a pivot in their design career?

coordination systems,

residential

the deficiencies in a decision, take constructive

of

also the interiors and overall functionality of the

As the only male Interior Designer from my class,

building (apartment units, amenities, services, and

and one of only a handful of males in the program

utilities for example) and understanding how all of

at the time, I received plenty of criticism from

those elements work together.

friends, family, colleagues about my career choice.

I’m

responsible

range

of

for

As an Architect,

coordinating

disciplines,

including

with Civil

Landscape

Architects,

Structural

Mechanical

Electrical/Plumbing/Fire

a

wide

Engineers, Engineers, Protection

(MEPFP) Engineers, Traffic Engineers, and other project-specific consultants. I take pride in my background in Interior Design as it pertains to my current role. It’s critical for an Architect to understand the inside and outside of a building; architecture is more than simply keeping the rain out, but designing spaces that people inhabit

However, I stayed with it because I was good at it and I enjoyed it. There are quite a few people I went through the Interior Design program with at Virginia Tech who are no longer doing traditional Interior Design work, however their education has led them to an outcome that works for them [...] There is no wrong way to turn after you graduate, and there are limitless possibilities with which to use your degree, outside of the traditional Interior Designer path.

Choose a

path that works for you.

and enjoy. My experience in Commercial Interiors has allowed me to do just that- design a building from the inside out, with the occupant in mind, and create a holistic and coordinated design between

INTERIOR DESIGNER

the Architecture, Interior Design, and Engineering

MI N H D U O N G

teams.

C L A S S O F 20 13 IN TE R IO R DE S IG N

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from the Interior Design program that you still use in your current role?

38

The most important skill I learned from my schooling

Were there any impactful events that led you to where

at Virginia Tech is the ability to think critically;

you are in your design career?

to be confronted with a problem and develop an

On a whim, I decided to move down to Charlotte

ISSUE - 04


from Philadelphia (because why not?) and in doing

still use these skills daily, just with different subject

so, I was given an opportunity to start my own

matter.

nonprofit that combined my love of architecture and design and animals! What was the biggest difference going from school to the real world, or what was unexpected about our industry you didn’t learn in college?

What words of advice might you have for someone considering a pivot in their career?

Pivoting is challenging, but if it is the right move for you, it is absolutely worth it. Having a support system is crucial to making a big change, and don’t

I feel like most people would say budget, but for

be discouraged by the amount of time or money that

me, it was translating what the client had in mind

a change will cost you. It’ll certainly pay off long

into a design I was proud to present. There have

term, and time will pass regardless of what you are

been a few instances where the client was very

doing. You may as well do something you love.

unimaginative about what they wanted and hesitant to try new ideas, so it became a difficult process to persuade them to trust your decisions.

ARCHITECT What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from

A S H LE Y E D W AR DS

studio?

C L A S S O F 20 0 6

However long you think it takes you to complete

A R C HITE CTU RE

something, it is twice (or even thrice) as many hours.

REGISTERED NURSE BRI D UVA L L CL A S S O F 2 010 INTE R I O R D ES I GN

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from studio?

However long you think it takes you to complete something, it is twice or even thrice as many hours. Describe a favorite/funny memory from studio.

In my 1st year studio, we had daily pin-ups where my professor would come in, look at our boards and

Describe your current role and how it differs from traditional commercial interior design.

if they were not exactly straight, would walk straight out of Cowgill and go to the coffee shop next door. We would have all of 5 min to fix the boards before

Early in my design career, and decided that I really

our

liked the feeling of hospitals and the healing that

single

takes place there. I completely changed career paths and am now a Registered Nurse. I currently work in an endoscopy lab where I deliver patient care

see

professor day, how

and many

returned...This it

became

days

we

happened a

every

competition

could

go

to

without

our professor walking out to go get coffee!

before, during, and after procedures.

What was your favorite place to go on campus or around

What is the biggest skill you learned from the Interior

Every Friday we would go to West End and have

Design program that you still use in your current role?

Critical thinking and creative problem solving- I

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

Blacksburg?

the London Broil with Mushroom Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, and Corn Bread!

39


What was the biggest difference going from school to the

ME RED ITH G O L D B E RG

real world, or what was unexpected about our industry

CL ASS O F 2 013

you didn’t learn in college?

INTER IOR D ES I GN

One

unexpected

difference

was

the

amount

of

coordination that has to take place between the designer and an all the different entities to achieve

PROJECT

your design for each project. From coordination with

MANAGER

your own internal team, to all types of engineers, furniture vendors, consultants. This is in addition to

Describe some of your responsibilities as a Project

all the coordination with clients and brokers.

Manager.

I work on all parts of a project from concept design to construction administration. I manage communication between

teams,

client

expectations,

coordinate

DESIGNER

project schedules, budget, and the internal design

A LI H E R MS ME Y E R

process. I also support and mentor the designers.

C L A S S O F 20 18 What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from

IN TE R IO R DE S IG N

studio?

The biggest lesson I learned from studio is to use the people around you as your greatest resource. Everyone you work with has a different strength or knowledge base. Tapping into this and asking questions when needed can make both your project and team stronger.

designer?

Create compelling designs for commercial spaces, select finishes, produce construction documents, and oversee construction of project to completion.

How do you think the interior design and architecture industries will transform due to COVID-19?

Describe a favorite/funny memory from studio.

There are so many changes that have already taken

Definitely the all-nighters. While they were brutal and

place and there are so many that we don’t even realize will happen in the future. One thing we know for sure is that the human factor is being considered now more than ever.

An end user’s health & well

being is taking precedent in the design industry – not only when it comes to physical health, but also the mental and emotional health of the end user. While we like to think that we’ve always considered the end user first when designing, the truth is that consideration is something typically designed out of a project based on budget or the desire for a certain aesthetic.

40

What are some of your main responsibilities as a

exhausting, it was always so fun to bond with my classmates and belly-laugh at 4 in the morning. What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from studio?

The importance of hard work and time management. What advice for an interior design student as they pursue a career in the architecture/design industry?

The people and company culture are EVERYTHING. Our industry is hard work, but it’s worth it when you have a great team.

ISSUE - 04


evolved as a species to communicate using the

GENERAL MANAGER,

signals of expressions, body language, tone, shared

FACEBOOK REALITY LABS

environments. I don’t think the importance of share

CHA RL ES H O O V E R

spaces is going to go away until we can replicate those things virtually, perfectly.

C LA S S OF 2 0 0 4 I NT ER I OR DE S IG N

LI N D S E Y K I T E C L A S S O F 20 11

Describe your current role and how it’s different from

IN TE R IO R DE S IG N

traditional commercial interior design.

CREATIVE

My role is vastly different than commercial interior

LEAD

design. I focus on the management and operations of an advanced Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab, working on the future of virtual telepresence for Facebook. Every once in a while, however, I have the opportunity to help with a new office design or build out!

design career?

moved

I lead design intent and creative teams for Interior & Exterior projects. I also bridge client expectations with execution [of a project].

What impactful events led you to where you are in your

I

Tell us a little about your current role.

out

of

design

right

after

school,

first

moving into the game industry before tech R&D. The common thread has all been around working on experiences. Which I still love [design], the main reason for shifting into these fields was to work closer to bleeding edge technology, new types of teams, and new ways of working; I liked working in

How will the interior design and architecture industries transform due to COVID-19?

An Interior Designer’s role as a trusted advisor is even more critical now than ever before. While uncertainty is at an all-time high, clients are looking for guidance, leadership, and genuine connection in someone they hire. Whether it’s sitting alongside a potential tenant to explore options of how they

an industry that was more nascent.

can

downsize

their

current

workspace,

working

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from the

listening to a client express their fear of the future

Interior Design program that you still use in your current

unknowns, our skill set and experience as design-

with landlords to reinvent their amenities, or simply

role?

thinkers will be highly sought-after.

I still leverage a lot from my education in design: how to communicate, how to tell a story, how to design an experience. The importance of details and

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from studio?

the big picture. My approach is very different, for the

We did a series of one-week group projects our

better, because of my experience at Virginia Tech.

senior year where we not only were challenged

What lessons learned from this pandemic might inform how you look at design in the future?

with a condensed time frame, but also with working as

a

team.

Being

able

to

collaborate,

diverge,

and utilize everyone’s strengths was a small taste

I do think everyone is being a bit to quick to shift

of what happens in our industry on an everyday

away

basis. We were also able to present in person to our

from

in-person

communication.

We

have

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

(continues on following spread)

41


client which was an amazing (yet nerve-wracking!)

can be equally as fulfilling. You won’t necessarily

opportunity to practice our presentation skills.

lack for flexing your creative muscles outside of a

What advice for an interior design student as they pursue

purely design role.

a career in the architecture/design industry?

Grow your awareness of industries/organizations

JE S S I E O LI V E R

beyond your practice area.

CLASS OF 2011 INTERIOR DESIGN

TEAM LEAD, FRONTEND SOFTWARE ENGINEER

TERRITORY MANAGER, DEALER SALES

M E L I S S A NO C K C LA S S O F 2 0 13 A R C H I T EC T URE

What impactful events led you to where you are in your design career?

After graduating in 2011 and practicing interior design in Washington, DC for 7 months, I decided to Describe your current role and how it differs from

go to graduate school to get my M.Ed. in Elementary

traditional commercial interior design.

Education. This initial career switch brought to light

I work in writing and maintaining software now. Although this may not sound too related to [interior] design, a lot of the principles of design thinking apply quite directly to writing software.

a completely new skill set and environment that allowed me to thrive professionally; however, while I was “designing” my own lesson plans, I was not fulfilling quite the same creative outlet that I was so passionate about during undergrad. After teaching

Was there a certain impactful event that led you to where

for a year and then joining the design industry again

you are in your career?

for a little over 2 years, I came to the realization that

Upon graduation, I pretty immediately chose to lead a different trajectory away from a traditional designer role.

I knew that if I wanted to return to design, I

would have been able to find a path back to it in time, but I chose to pursue other interests first.

there must be a role out there that would utilize the strengths I developed as both an interior designer and teacher that would ultimately be the best fit for my long-term career. With essentially no background in sales, I was worried that no company would take a chance on

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from the Interior Design program that you still use in your current role?

me, but after a few sessions with a career coach and working closely with a mentor in the design industry, I was encouraged to make the leap and landed the

Iterative

thinking

solving.

Design thinking encourages you to work

and

solutions

based

problem

from front to back. It’d be no fun if you started with the answer - there would be no journey.

position I have now! How does your current role differ from traditional commercial interior design?

As a Dealer Sales Territory Manager for Global

42

What words of advice might you have for someone

Furniture Group, I manage a network of furniture

considering a pivot in their design career?

dealerships in the DMV area who sell our products

Don’t be afraid to explore non-traditional roles. They

primarily to clients in the workplace, government,

ISSUE - 04


healthcare,

and

education

vertical

markets.

On

any given day, I perform a variety of tasks, which include

promoting

representatives,

new

sales

PROJECT

recommending

MANAGER

products,

providing

quotes,

training

furniture solutions, delivering and demoing chair

K E LLY O R MSB Y

samples for clients, ordering finish and literature samples, and supporting dealerships with any issues

C L A S S O F 20 0 5

that may arise during order entry, delivery, and

IN TE R IO R D E SIG N

installation. While I am not the person making design decisions for a client’s space, I do help dealerships and designers achieve their vision by providing furniture solutions

that

offer

the

best

value

in

terms

of

aesthetics, functionality, durability, and budget. What lessons learned from this pandemic might inform how you look at design in the future?

From a furniture standpoint, many companies are reaching out about how they can reconfigure their spaces

(whether

rearranging

that

various

be

adding,

components)

removing,

or

achieve

an

to

environment in compliance with the current safety recommendations, but oftentimes this is easier said than done. [...] Some companies are struggling to follow through with these decisions because they

Describe your current job role.

[As a Project Manager,] I work with the client and design

team

to

ensure

that

the

client’s

needs,

budget, and schedule are met. Were there any unexpected events that led you to where you are in your career?

When I graduated, I started working for a firm that specialized in local government and K-12 schools; then the financial crisis of 2007 hit and work dried up. I ended up moving cities and types of work, which, though terrifying at the time, ended up being a benefit in the long run. I’m happier in Washington, DC, and I love doing the type and variety of work I do.

view the pandemic as temporary, and don’t want to

What lessons learned from this pandemic might inform

ultimately be stuck with temporary furniture solutions.

how you look at design in the future?

To avoid this mindset and successfully design for

Architecture has survived crises before. We can

the future, we should aim to develop products and

weather this, and we can change the way we

design spaces that offer multiple uses and maximum

approach our work with and for our clients. Public

flexibility. Anticipating as many different scenarios

spaces will change, but humans are social creatures.

within a space as possible from a variety of users’

Fewer people may end up back in the office, but that

perspectives will help guide all decisions during the

makes the places we gather more important as they

design process to create solutions that will stand the

become hubs for interaction in a world where people

test of time.

can choose to work primarily from home.

What words of advice might you have for someone

What advice for an interior design student as they pursue

considering a pivot in their design career?

a career in the architecture/design industry?

Definitely reach out to your fellow network of Hokies

Stay curious, and don’t let yourself get comfortable.

for advice or to gain a better understanding of what

Our clients look to us to be the expert. Keeping on

the day-to-day looks like in a non-traditional role.

top of current design trends, construction techniques,

I spoke to a few alumni before I made my switch

and codes helps us make our clients’ lives better

and I’ve had a few alumni reach out to me over the

by allowing them to communicate who through their

past few years, too. I’m always happy to have a

space. To do that we need to be stretch boundaries

conversation and help out as much as I can!

and expectations.

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

43


What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from the

YU YU S CH A T Z C LA S S O F 2 0 13 I NT ER I O R D ESIG N MBA CANDIDATE, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

Interior Design program that you still use in your current role?

The foundational design concepts learned during the program have been invaluable in my career. Transitioning

to

emphasized

how

a

different design

aspect principles

of

design

transcend

disciplines. The sketching and visualization skills learned during the program have also really helped

Describe your current role and how it differs from traditional commercial interior design.

me differentiate myself in my career and I recommend keeping up with them post school. Those weekly sketches that Brad Whitney made us do were a

I’m an Interior Designer turned Product Designer that

fantastic exercise in getting sketching reps in. I did

ended up going to business school! Prior to this I

some graphic recording in my previous role and now

worked as a Service & Interaction Designer at FJORD

freelance occasionally. All of this came from having

in San Francisco. Rather than working on physical

to sketch for studio!

spaces, I designed digital products, services, and conducted design research.

What words of advice might you have for someone

Was there a certain impactful event that led you to where

Be confident in your skills! Interior design is a

you are in your career?

very esoteric degree and it’s very interesting for

In school and in the workplace, I always loved the phase of research and concept development. After working in industry for a few years, I realized that I didn’t enjoy the execution of commercial interiors. I had two mentors in my career, one from my first firm and one from my second. I’m eternally grateful to

considering a pivot in their design career?

people to hear about who don’t come from a design field. Now that I’m in business school, everyone finds it fascinating that I studied something so unconventional. It may seem normalized due to the nature of being in the architecture school, but if you’re pivoting, it’s a very compelling story.

these mentors for giving me the conviction to pursue a different facet of design. Having someone who has worked in industry for years can provide such insight into what the possibilities are. When I worked at FJORD, a design consultancy that

FORMER CREATIVE PRODUCER

was owned by Accenture, I realized I wanted to go

A BB Y S I N S H E I ME R

to business school. Working for a design firm within

CLASS OF 2013

a management consultancy emphasized how pointy designers are. While I worked with extremely talented

INTERIOR DESIGN

designers – they often were disconnected with the larger business strategy. I wanted to become equal parts design, strategy, and research. The gap I felt in strategy pushed me to go to business school. Being able to effectively execute design, communicate the power of it, and sell it to organizations is highly impactful.

44

Describe your most current role and how it differs from traditional commercial interior design.

Due to Covid-19, I’m currently unemployed, however at my previous job, I managed the design studio and reported directly to the Creative Director. We worked with a large team of freelance talent, in

ISSUE - 04


addition to our studio employees, so I was frequently communicating people,

and

sometimes

directing 15-20

at

diverse

teams

a

to

time

of

PRESIDENT

deliver

CEO

the product our clients were depending on. The company I worked for, Hotopp Associates, produced and designed attractions at theme parks, interactive and exhibit designs for museums and digital media such as sizzle reels, safety videos, AR/VR mobile apps and even more.

KEITH SWITZER CLASS OF 1997 HOUSING, INTERIOR DESIGN & MANAGEMENT

Were there any unexpected events that led you to where

What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from

you are in your career?

studio?

When I was a student at Virginia Tech, I took a

I believe the skill that most excelled me initially in

semester off to intern for Walt Disney Imagineering in

my career was my AutoCAD experience. I feel it gave

the retail design department. Working in the themed

me an “edge” on my competition for a job. This was

entertainment industry and seeing how versatile an

a new(er) technology when I entered the workforce,

interior designer can be, I was able to easily pivot

so my efforts to learn (and days in the computer

to working for entertainment companies. It took me

lab) allowed me to produce presentations that were

a really long time to get that internship, I applied to

slightly more elevated than my peers at that time.

probably 30 internships per semester at Disney and had a few interviews before I finally landed one, so my best advice is perseverance. What is the biggest skill or lesson you learned from the Interior Design program that you still use in your current role?

Drafting!

Were there any unexpected events that led you to where you are in your design career?

There were two very specific moments that set my career on the path from graduation to today.

The

first was my Senior studio professor recommending me to a firm in norther Virginia seeking a new hire.

confident

That recommendation allowed me an “in” to get

draftsperson will take you many places. I was able

Being

a

fast,

efficient

and

an interview (ultimately my first job). The second

to jump into projects that were not traditional for

was a colleague at that firm who recommended me

interior design because I have the ability to look at a

to INTEC (my current firm). INTEC was looking for

sketch or rendering and interpret that vision into the

someone to run there interiors studio.

built environment.

recommendations put me on a path to where I am

What words of advice might you have for someone considering a pivot in their design career?

Be flexible, patient and don’t be afraid to ask questions! You are going to have to put yourself out there, attend networking events, spend some of

today.

Those two

Without those referrals/recommendations

I may not have found or been exposed to those opportunities in my career. Were there any unexpected events that led you to where you are in your design career?

your own money on education and experiences that

As

put you next to the types of professionals you hope

anyone you have the opportunity to meet with or

to be working with. Forming deep and meaningful

talk to about their career advancement.

connections with people who work in the industry

my personal experiences, my network of peers,

you hope to enter will be your best bet into getting

colleagues and contacts in the industry have helped

a foot in the door.

me get to where I am today.

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

a

young

designer,

network

and

connect

to

Based on

45


FA L L - ‘ 2 0

PROGRAM NEWSLETTER

VIRGINIA TECH INTERIOR DESIGN

I V. - C R E D I T S 48

49

Acknowledgements and Contributors

How to Get Involved


SPECIAL THANKS Contributors and Authors

JULIA SO RE NS ON Student Liaison Newsletter Content

A MY G R O O ME Alumni Liaison Newsletter Content

LI S A TUCKER Newsletter content and program updates

N A D IA C OL QU IE T T Story content

AARON BETS K Y Story content

R E BEC C A S OR T O Story content

ELI F TURAL Story content

R OBIN T EN H OOR Story content

LI LA DE LA RO SA Cover art

A L ES S A N D R A S H OR T E N Story content

FARRAH GOA L Story content

J U L IA KIN G Story content

LI NDSEY KI TE Story content

C L A IR E G R A BL E Story content

KEL SEY MU I R Newsletter Layout Graphics

KRI S TEN PFI S TE R Story content

48

ISSUE - 04


CONNECT WITH US ONLINE

@VT_IDEAS /GROUPS/VIRGINIATECHITDS ALUMNI DATABASE If you or someone you know would like to be included in our alumni database and receive these publications, information on future events, and opportunities, please fill out the Google form HERE.

INTERESTED IN GETTING I N V O LV E D I N O U R FA L L NEWSLETTER?

Please

reach

out

to

the

Alumni

Networking

Committee to connect with alumni in your city or to have your story featured in our Spring 2021 issue.

KEL SEY MU I R kelseymuir@vt.edu

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

49


THANK YOU Visit https://archdesign.caus.vt.edu/itds/ for more information.

PROGRAM NEWSLETTER

FA L L - ‘ 2 0

VIRGINIA TECH INTERIOR DESIGN

Profile for VT ITDS Newsletter

Virginia Tech Interior Design Fall Newsletter 2020  

In our fourth issue of the VT ITDS newsletter, we check back in with the program mid-Covid19-pandemic. We hear from professors, students, an...

Virginia Tech Interior Design Fall Newsletter 2020  

In our fourth issue of the VT ITDS newsletter, we check back in with the program mid-Covid19-pandemic. We hear from professors, students, an...

Profile for vtitds
Advertisement