Dishing with a Designer – Design Director, Amy Miller
In the spirit of deep dives, we are going to dive a little deeper from our earlier Dishing with a Designer interview with Amy Miller.
We wanted to talk more with Amy as she has quite the inspirational story. She has been with LD & Co basically since there was an LD & Co. In fact, only Lita has “been here” longer. Amy has risen from part-time intern to design director. She has become a leader in the firm and is a mentor to many of the junior designers. Throughout her career her designs have won several awards, been directly related to millions of dollars in home sales, and inspired countless designers.
LD & Co: Thanks so much taking the time to share your story. I know you’re not a fan of this – calling attention to yourself – so your participation is very much appreciated.
So, let’s jump in. Can you remind our readers how you ended up here, at LD & Co?
AM: I heard a guest speaker when I was in design school. She talked about designing model homes. I was intrigued – honestly, I didn’t even realize that was a “thing.” Once I learned about this aspect of the industry, I realized how much it appealed to me: being able to focus on residential design but with the added advantage of not working directly with the homeowners. The potential variety of projects that would arise when working for various production builders was very attractive.
LD & Co: Initially you were hired as an intern, correct?
LD & Co: What was it about LD & Co specifically that attracted you originally?
AM: As I mentioned, being a model home designer/merchandiser really appealed to me. Once I realized that, I did a little research and learned that LD & Co was a leader within this niche. And, as luck (fate?) would have it, they had an opportunity open.
LD & Co: Have your experiences at LD & Co lived up to your expectations?
AM: To be honest, I didn’t have any expectations. Truly. I was thrilled when Lita hired me as an intern. And when my internship was over, they asked me to stay and do drafting. They did all the drafting by hand in those days. I was happy that they asked and of course stayed on even though it wasn’t a design job.
LD & Co: Did you work anywhere else? Or did you go straight from school to internship to full-time at LD & Co?
AM: Pretty much. I did do another internship while I was in school, before LD & Co, but when it was over, I was ready for it to be over. I was still a few months away from graduating when my LD & Co internship was over, and I was (mentally) prepared to hit the job search circuit upon graduation. So, when they offered the drafting position, while it wasn’t what I really wanted – a design job – I took it. I figured I could continue to look for a design job. Again, as luck, or fate, would have it, after a few months of being the on staff “drafter” a junior designer position become available. Lita offered it to me, and there you go, my first “real” salaried, design job.
LD & Co: Talk about being in the right place at the right time. It was meant to be! So…that was a long time ago, have you ever felt like leaving LD & Co?
AM: Honestly, no. As an introvert the idea of looking for a new job always felt daunting. However, if I were unhappy or unfulfilled, I would have obviously left. Fortunately, I am so happy here. Lita is wonderful to work with, as you know. She is so creative. And her positive, supportive, and joyful personality is infectious. Plus, the work is always new, fresh, different, challenging, fun. It’s never boring. And I am always learning.
LD & Co: You were recently made a Design Director, congrats! How has that changed your work?
AM: Thanks. It’s been a challenge. I have managed others in the past, but that was more of a scheduling/work-load kind of manager. As design director at LD & Co it’s much different. There is a lot of coaching and teaching. I’m not the best communicator, but I’ve been working on it. I realize I need to take a step back, be more patient, and try to remember to be clear in my explanations & reasons of “why”. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m doing it right.
LD & Co. You’re definitely doing it right! You’ve been so successful as a designer, and now as a design director, what keeps you motivated?
AM: It’s the work. Like I said earlier, it’s always interesting, never the same. One day I may be working on a renovation design then three models in a model park, and/or a 20,000 sq. foot amenity center. I never know what’s coming around the corner, but I am guaranteed that it’ll never be boring.
LD & Co: If you could, what advice would you give younger self? What would you tell young Amy?
AM: I’d say, don’t worry about being perfect. Perfect is not going to happen. Don’t be afraid to make changes or mistakes. And above all else, let people help you! Feedback is good. Critiques, advice, assistance…all of that will help you grow and learn.
LD & Co: That’s wonderful. Now (and we know full well this is going to embarrass you, and we’re sorry, but not really) we asked Lita and some of the other leadership team about you and how they would describe you and how you’ve grown over the years.
Feedback from team:
“Amy is so fantastic at presenting the job to the client.”
“She is so knowledgeable and has become very confident in her abilities. It comes across to the client.”
“I feel confident that if Amy is doing the presentation, it will go well. Even if the client doesn’t like everything, Amy has become savvy enough now to talk through any issue.”
“Amy is incredibly reliable. She produces quality work every single time.”
“It’s so rewarding to see Amy stretch herself and get outside her comfort zone.”
“She has so many talents.”
To see more of Amy’s work, please visit our website. She has had a hand in almost every single project displayed.