The Role of the Interior Designer: Not Just Another Pretty Space

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resident and & Founder of InteriorLOGIC- Robin Stroebel has always had an act for helping people and a passion for interior design. She has overcome many obstacles that came her way when starting her business and giving up was not an option. The process to get to where she is today required hard work and dedication but Robin stopped at nothing to accomplish her goal.

“I think one of the most important things is to think about what really interests you and think about what your interests are, what your passions are, what your strengths are.”

About Robin Stroebel

Robin knew at an early age that she wanted to pursue a career in interior design. When she attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Robin knew she needed to seek out an internship to determine exactly what she wanted to do within the interior design field. She could not stress enough the importance of getting an internship in order to gain as much experience as possible before entering the workforce. She then started her first internship at Steinhafels in Milwaukee, WI.  After the completion of her internship she realized she did not want to pursue a career in retail. She then graduated with a BS in Interior Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was given the opportunity after school to work in a commercial furniture dealership as her first job at a Residential Scandinavian Retail Furniture store. This career made her realize that having the residential design experience under her belt was beneficial, but she decided commercial design was what she enjoyed to do.

A couple years later, she was offered an opportunity to work for a commercial furniture dealership. The primary responsibilities of this dealership were to sell furniture which involved designing and specifying the furniture and layouts meaning sizes, products, fabrics and how it would work in that particular layout in order to sell the furniture. Robin was a designer for three years then in sales for seven years. She thought it was a unique perspective working both as a designer and in sales. Then for 3 years, she was the marketing manager for the same firm. It was also great experience because it gave Robin a broader marketing experience. After 11 years at that firm, she knew she would be able to start her own company.

“From buying my first computer ever and trying to figure out how to use a computer on top of trying to find clients and trying to do the work, it was very challenging, but it’s been a very successful and rewarding career.”  

The Start of InteriorLOGIC

InteriorLOGIC is currently celebrating 30 years of business this year. Robin has said starting her own business has been a lot of work but very well worth it. InteriorLOGIC designs commercial interiors of all types and specializes in corporate interior such as labs, training rooms, office area, collaborative spaces, kitchens, etc. Robin has also been a professional member of the American society of interior design. She has numerous professional licenses in various states, some which are required to practice. She is the lead certified designer and has received other awards and honors throughout her career in Interior Design.

“When you think of an office, it is not just about people sitting there, it’s about the meeting spaces, the entry, the branding, the graphics, the image, everything that happens in that space.”

Strategic Facility Planning

Strategic Facility Planning is Robin’s particular area of study and essentially is talking with the leadership of the company to determine exactly what their business will be, what they want, why do they need to change in the first place and how many people they will have in the space.

Understanding how much space they need and how they want to use it is crucial in moving forward in this process. Once those parameters are determined, they will then design some schematic spaces or could design a preliminary building. The designers at InteriorLOGIC can design a space without having a building and can determine where things will be situated and how the staff will work and how everything will flow.

“My favorite piece of interior design is actually strategic facility planning: meeting with the people and learning about their businesses. Starting from nothing and shaping what that space will be in terms of just looking at it from a numbers and usage perspective and turning it into a building or a space. I love that part and I love working with people on an ongoing basis from that. I like to get the project kicked off in the right direction.”

Once the designers know how that will generally work and on the same page, sometimes the client will use that to lease or buy a new building. In some cases, they have their building and begin planning with the following in mind:

  • What is the design concept?
  • Contemporary?
  • Sustainability?
  • Encompass different types of collaborative environments?

As far as the design of the space the following are determined:

  • What will it look like?
  • What are those materials?
  • What kind of flooring?
  • Type of lighting involved?
  • Where is special lighting needed?

Every room needs to be thought out. The team at InteriorLOGIC develops construction documents as a part of the design of the space. Those documents are for general contractors so they can build the space but required a more detailed drawing.

“Every kind of designer that is required for building is part of the team.”

At InteriorLOGIC, they also do furniture planning and purchasing management. This is what Robin did at a dealership which required her to speck furniture, request for proposal and getting pricing for the client to make sure they get the best product and the best pricing. This especially was when her experience prior to the start of her career came in handy.

Interior designers can be found in just about any type of space or any type of company so she emphasizes the many opportunities for students interested in the field or are looking to gain more experience.

There are so many different aspects of interior design that almost any business could have an in house interior designer. If you are looking to be in the field but are looking more towards selling products, you will need to have an understanding about interior design.

“In the 30 years I’ve had my business, even though I thought I was done being a student, really I have never stopped learning.”

Experience Needed to be in Interior Design

In Wisconsin, there are about 5-6 two-year colleges that have interior design degrees. With that two-year degree, you would have a fulfilling career as a residential design but that would not fulfill the requirements for a commercial designer. Also in Wisconsin, there about 5-6 four-year colleges in which you would get the education and experience to take the national examine that would allow you to then design commercial interiors.

To name a few, listed below are colleges that have wonderful interior design programs:

  • UW-Madison
  • UW-Stevens Point
  • UW-Stout
  • Mount Mary University

The amount of school you want to pursue is entirely up to you and depends on what you want to do with a career in interior design.

“Interior design is not just another pretty space; it’s not just what you see, it’s about all the planning and collaboration that goes into everything also that you don’t see.”

If you are thinking about becoming an interior designer, Robin suggests contacting a local interior designer and see if you can shadow one for the day and watch what they do. If you are debating between a residential or commercial design career, shadowing both types is important because they are very different from one another as to what their typical day would be.

Technology has evolved over the years and is a big part of a career in interior design. Interior designers use a computer to create 3-D models and then having the skills to Photoshop the models. Understanding Photoshop is a task in itself but is something that must be learned. Her main suggestion for current students in interior design is to focus on honing your core skills: listening, communicating and analyzing to determine if this is the right path for you.

ABOUT US

At InteriorLOGIC, we build work environments. From our home office in Madison, WI our award-winning commercial interior design team focuses on creating spaces that work. We continually work to improve the end user experience with each design and our team is well-suited for challenging projects including LEED certification and sustainability projects. For more information about our business and approach, please visit www.intlogic.com.

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