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Ageless Inspiration

By Kim Kaiser

There are only so many times you can go back to the same well. Designers may draw their inspiration from a common source, but they must keep up with a culture that is free-flowing and continuously evolving. Perspective asked six established practitioners to discuss their inspiration and how they keep their interior design ideas fresh.

Janice Roberts Young, FIIDA, ASID
I am inspired by beautiful objects, such as a beautiful turtle shell or a turned piece of wood, by wonderful gardens, by color and by my clients. I have a number of clients with whom I have worked on various projects through the years, and I find I am inspired by their creativity, enthusiasm and interest in the projects and what the project outcome can mean to their businesses, environments and lives.

I think designers simply must keep learning, keep observing, travel, listen, be sensitive to culture and cultural changes. Designs that respond to today's project needs, incorporating current and perhaps new materials and philosophies and new information are by their nature "fresh" and new and specific.

I am a sponge. I read trade, travel and style magazines, and historical novels and biographies. I am influenced by what I see, how people live and react and respond, and by experiencing a space or form, whether it is an architectural relic or a magnificent garden.

Janice Roberts Young graduated from the College of Architecture and Fine Arts at Auburn University with a bachelor's degree in interior design. She has her own design studio, Janice Young & Associates Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., and has worked on projects in the transportation, corporate, hospitality, institutional, public and residential areas. She was the co-recipient of the 2004 IIDA Leadership Award and in 2003 was awarded the Interior Design Associations of Florida Legislative Award. She also was named to the IIDA College of Fellows, was given the 1997 Bud Merle Award for Outstanding Licensed Interior Designer in the State of Florida, won project design awards from AIA, ASID and the Historic Preservation Association, and is the President-Elect of the National Council of Interior Design Qualification.

Eva L. Maddox, FIIDA
My inspiration is derived from the line where divergent ideas meet, and content and context merge.

We are challenged to educate our clients to receive new ideas, and we often forget the importance and joy of bringing our clients along together on the design process. Design has great value to society, and it should assist in exploring solutions to societal needs. To this end, I believe we must have a good understanding of social issues, and I am particularly interested in applying design and design principles in urban settings.

My passion is really good design. I am happy to let the chips fall where they may and let others judge the "good" of good design.

Eva L. Maddox is a Principal with Perkins & Will | Eva Maddox Branded Environments and an award-winning designer focusing on branded environments in corporate, healthcare and education settings. Most recently, she led the P&W Branded Environment and interior teams in the design of the Haworth Chicago Showroom and was honored by IIDA/Contract Magazine in the 2004 Showroom and Booth awards for Best Large Showroom and Best of Competition. In 2000, she received the Big "I" International Interiors Award, Best Small Corporate Office, for the design of Urban Innovations.

Jason Hall
I draw my inspiration from weird, contradictory combinations of things that in their opposition give each other meaning. I look to interesting materials that might at first be overlooked as a source of inspiration, finding motivation in everything that surrounds me, from work to play to naps to funk music.

Keeping design ideas fresh is not always simple. Closed-mindedness and preconceptions have often been a challenge for me.

I've developed interests outside of work, which give me the opportunity to interact with different people, which in turn has helped my design. The best thing you can do to design for people is to interact with people.
I don't try to stand out from other designers. I try to do good work — sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not.

Jason Hall is the Senior Project Designer at Perkins & Will's Chicago office, where he has worked since 2002. Hall earned his bachelor's degree in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology and master's degree in architecture from the University of Michigan. His projects include corporate, retail, education and residential interiors, showrooms, furniture design and graphic design. His team won best large showroom and best of show at NeoCon this year for Haworth. His team also won the Solutia Doc award in 2003 for the J&J/Invision Showroom. In 2002, he won the HOW Magazine Design Distinction Award for the Cole Haan Flagship store in Rockefeller Center in New York.

Eric Engstrom, IIDA
I look to the nature and the history of the area we are working in for inspiration. If we're working in Seattle, for example, we find inspiration in nature from the coniferous trees and the blue of the water.

I view design as an editing process that requires that ability to find a balance between the creative and the practical. There's a constant battle between something that is complete creativity and something that is complete practicality.

Creating a balance between a functional restaurant and an enjoyable dining experience for customers can be a challenge. We want to transport the customer into another world. But we also want it to work as a restaurant.

You need to know who your client is and what your client wants to do. In restaurants, you need to have passageways clear so they function, but you also need to design them so the customer is comfortable.

To avoid getting trapped by repetition, we try to stay in tune to what is new. We read a lot of magazines and go to a lot of Web sites, so we are always keeping up with the trends. Designs don't occur in a vacuum. It's really an editing process of what you see and making it work.

Eric Engstrom is the President and Founder of San Rafael, Calif.-based Engstrom Design Group. Engstrom, who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, specializes in restaurant design and works on projects nationwide. In recognition of his restaurant designs, he was awarded the Platinum Circle Award by Hospitality Design Magazine in 2002. Among other awards, his firm was honored with the James Beard Award for best new restaurant in the United States for Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas.

Deborah Lloyd Forrest, FASID
A lot of my inspiration comes from travel and visiting different places — well designed retail places, fashion, stores and the products shown in stores — all of those things.

I certainly think it is easy to fall into a rut. One thing we stress at our company is not to repeat ourselves. We challenge ourselves to constantly find new ideas.

To help keep designs up to date, I continuously head back into the research and inspiration loops. I also always look at things around me for what is new and different and read everything I can. I learn things from people in the firm. We have young people coming in who just finished college, and they have new ideas and techniques.

ForrestPerkins is equally divided between designers and architects, which I think helps distinguish us from other firms. We don't take a segregated approach. Architects and designers work on projects together, and the project leaders are not decided based on their field.

I think it helps us take a fresh approach and helps our projects technically by bringing both approaches together. We thoroughly enjoy the process.

Deborah Lloyd Forrest is a Principal at ForrestPerkins, which specializes in luxury hotels, and works out of the firm's Dallas office. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of North Texas. Recent accomplishments include being awarded a 2004 Hospitality Design Award for Best Luxury Hotel by Lodging Hospitality Magazine. She also recently was named to the Platinum Circle by Hospitality Design Magazine. Forrest is a member of the American Society of Interior Design and in 2000 was elected to the ASID Fellowship.

Sean C. Kendig, IIDA
I draw my inspiration from the world around me. People also have a profound influence on how I create.

It's hard not to keep repeating a tried and true solution, instead of searching for the new approach. I read voraciously in all genres and treat every experience as an opportunity to learn and inform my future work.

I love what I do, and it shows in my attitude toward my work and my clients. My passion and enthusiasm for my work get my clients and my project teams excited.

Sean C. Kendig is the Principal at Chicago-based Kendig Design, where he works on a variety of projects in commercial design, residential design, project management and consulting. He graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in art. He won the Morna Klein Award for Outstanding Achievement in Creativity and is the President-Elect for the Illinois Chapter of IIDA.