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Jun 28, 2021 By IIDA HQ
Member Spotlight: Kaitlin Snow, Ind. IIDA
We speak with IIDA Industry Member and Vice President of Industry Relations for our Texas Oklahoma chapter.
By IIDA HQ Jun 28, 2021
Published in

Kaitlin Snow, Ind. IIDA, WELL AP is a long-time IIDA member, and active IIDA collaborator at the chapter level, and also as an industry member. She brings many years of experience in contract design to the table, including roles at HKS, Steelcase, and currently OFS, as well as a BS in Interior Design from TCU in Fort Worth, TX.

We sat down with Kaitlin virtually to learn about her career path, involvement with IIDA, the role of design in people’s health—as well as her excitement for biomaterial innovation and the possibilities for designing on Mars!

Tell us a little about your design career, and your history as an IIDA member?

I earned my Bachelors of Science in Interior Design, with a minor in Business, in 2009 from TCU in Ft. Worth, TX. The market was really tough at that time, unfortunately, and the design industry took a huge hit. I had been lucky enough to earn a lot of internship experience over my college career, my last role being in Healthcare Interiors at HKS. Fortunately, a strong referral and recommendation from HKS landed me in a role at a Steelcase dealership in Dallas. Given my background and experience and the wisdom of a very strong leader, I grew into a sales role focused on the A&D market. I spent 7 years there before I transitioned into a similar role (but on the manufacturers’ side) working for OFS.

All along the way, I have been involved and engaged with IIDA at the city center level, on event committees, and I’m currently wrapping up my commitment to the TX/OK Chapter Board. IIDA has been a strong thread throughout my career, and it has opened up a lot of opportunities and possibilities for me. More recently, from exposure through IIDA and OFS, I became interested in pursuing my WELL AP. As a degreed interior designer who never ended up in full time practice in interior design, WELL became a way for me to engage with my education on another level. It also creates space for deeper connections with the places I help furnish and with the people I get to work with. It provides a strong intention to my role as a manufacturers rep, and it elevates my connection to an important core of interior design—a focus on people.

What is the role of interior design in promoting health and wellness, and how does it translate to the workplace? Why should designers pay attention to these considerations?

“People first places” are having a huge moment in the forefront of design thinking. With the very real experiences we have all been through and witnessed over the last year, wellbeing seems to be the focus of every conversation I’m having and hearing about space. We now have a much better understanding of how the spaces we live and work in can have a positive (or negative) impact on our own heath—how disease can be minimized or spread, how supporting (or not) the wholeness of our people can impact culture and engagement, and how simple changes can have big impacts.

Designers work hard to elevate their clients’ environments, and that doesn’t just mean how they are laid out, the focus is a lot on how the space moves, how it feels, how it can be changed based on different needs. The materials in a space affect the air we breathe, our access to views of nature impact our mood, the traffic patterns throughout an office can affect our ability to focus. All of these are decisions that can be influenced and/or decided by an interior designer.

What are some of the things that you noticed over the past year with the shift into a pandemic-minded workplace?

Isolation was hard for everyone, but I think it also pushed us toward more creative thinking and a greater awareness of the importance of connection. We learned how to get together in new ways, and I hope we continue to apply these ideas to space design. I hope that this difficult moment has pushed our industry towards greater flexibility and greater awareness that the office, and the people within it, cannot be put into a one-size-fits-all box. I hope we do not pretend this was a blip in time and that we can go back to an old version of normal. I hope that we approach space with fresh eyes, and that we engage more perspectives going forward. I hope we are gentle with our expectations and patient with each other as we all adjust.


(Above, Kaitlin and family)

Tell us about a design project that enhances the design community that you’re working on that you are particularly proud of?

I am EXCITED for the opportunities ahead for the OFS partnership with IIDA for Design Your World! I cannot imagine what future spaces might look and feel like with the inclusion of more diverse people and perspectives behind the design process.

What is your advice for young designers entering the workforce or trying to navigate their early design careers?

Try everything and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is where the learning happens. Also, always be curious.

Let’s nerd out - is there a new technology, material, innovation, or design that you are particularly excited about working with?

I am really excited about the innovations in biomaterials from biodegradable packaging made of beetle shells to mushroom-based insulation material. I felt super nerdy recently reading about the “Mars Utopia” project from Alberto Villanueva of IDEA Architecture Office. He envisions the possibilities of using mycelium, Martian soil, and water with 3D printing capabilities to create enclosed living spaces on Mars. Bioluminescent towers on Mars that use plants to provide me with oxygen…I think I’m into that! There is so much creativity, science, and innovation happening in this space right now. With applications in design, construction, architecture, fashion, and more, biobased materials are poised to play a significant role in the future of the goods we consume, and they provide a strong support for our health and the health of the planet. Yay plants!

Who are your favorite designers, architects, or artists? Other people whose work inspires you?

Kia Weatherspoon is a life-giving follow on Instagram. She brings a full range of emotions and shares herself so clearly with a lot of thought and consideration. You can also check out her very real interview on the OFS podcast, Imagine a Place. The philosophy behind her design work for her firm, Determined by Design- “Interior Design is a standard for all not a luxury for few”- is something everyone should be watching.

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