Getting the Dish
We sat down with one of LD & Co’s newest designers, Kelly Dashner, to get the dish and learn a little more about her.
LD & Co: Thanks so much taking the time to dish with us. So, let’s get right to it: how did you get into design? What is your backstory?
KD: Honestly, I never planned to be an interior designer. Basically, I fell into it.
LD & Co: Oh, do tell.
KD: Well, I went to the Massachusetts College of Fine Art & Design in Boston where I majored in Illustration. I always loved to draw and knew I wanted to be a professional artist from a very young age. However, somewhere between my junior and senior year, I came to the realization that illustration was not something I could see myself doing forever. I had interned with a very talented, Boston-based illustrator and realized that the freelance lifestyle that most illustrators had, was really quite solitary and not so exciting. You often had to say yes to a lot of jobs you really weren’t all that into. I’m a pretty outgoing person and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life cooped up in my studio working on projects that were very limiting.
LD & Co: Did you end up changing your major?
KD: No, while in school I was working part-time for a retail clothing store and they asked me if I would be interested in a full-time position once I graduated. Since it was a job (and it was the middle of a recession) I thought, this is perfect- I’ll get my degree, have a decent job, and I’ll be able to make my art ‘on the side.’ I loved the idea of being able to create on my own terms and not necessarily have to depend on it to survive.
And for a while, the plan was working. However, after a year or so at the clothing store, corporate headquarters wanted me to move up into management and sent me to a new store in the DC area. On paper it sounded like a fantastic opportunity: new city, new experiences, new responsibilities, I thought to myself, sure I’m in! However, I quickly realized that I was not cut out for retail management. Also, the unexpected, long and late hours left me little time to create. I was determined to stick it out for at least a year, but that did not diminish my misery. There were a lot of tears shed.
LD & Co: Oh, that sounds awful. Is that how you ended up in Denver? Finally fed up with DC and left?
KD: Sort of, but not right away. I did finally quit the retail job (after a fortuitous encounter with a customer – long story) and managed to land this amazing job at a small family-owned furniture store in the area. It was a husband and wife team that built their own furniture and they wanted someone who had retail experience, but could also draw, and had an artistic side. It was perfect. I loved it! I learned so much: furniture design, interior design, building, Photoshop, using 3D software.
Becoming an Interior Designer
LD & Co: Sounds fantastic! But I am still not connecting the dots, how did you end up at LD & Co as an interior designer?
KD: I’m getting there. [smiles] Part of my job was to go over to people’s homes to take pictures and measurements for the furniture. Over time people started asking me about floor plans and layouts and my job morphed into interior design consulting. It didn’t take long then for me to realize that interior design combines my skills, experience, and passion: interior design is what I was meant to do.
LD & Co: Self-realization is a wonderful thing. Ok, so now you know you want to be an interior designer (and you are one), how did you end up in Denver?
KD: My older brother was out here, and I would come out and visit him often. I just love the Colorado lifestyle. Finally, there just came a point after eight years at the furniture store when I realized I was ready to make the move, not only to Colorado, but also onto a purely design-based position. So, I sent out my resume and portfolio and started the search. As soon as I interviewed with Kris and the other designers at LD & Co I just knew I wanted to be here. It just felt right.
LD & Co: We are so happy you are here. You definitely bring a fresh, artsy perspective to our designs. What is it about interior design that excites you, or what would you say is your favorite thing?
KD: Putting together all the little pieces and parts to create, what I consider, a functional work of art. I love experiencing a creative idea and then watching that idea morph and take shape. I truly enjoy everything that happens in-between that moment and the final product: the research, collaborating with the team, interacting with the client, and learning new things along the way.
LD & Co: While you were doing interior design work before, this is a very different aspect of the industry. What do you like best about working in this capacity?
KD: Collaboration. It is the collaborative process with the clients, and the other designers in the office, that I enjoy most.
LD & Co: If you could tell the builder/client one thing, what would it be?
KD: Trust the process. We all want to be successful and create something that will be impactful, trust that we are on the same team.
LD & Co: That’s so true. Everything we do, we do in hopes of making the builder/client successful. One last question, if you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
KD: Enjoy life! Enjoy yourself and know that all the ups and downs have led you to where you are now. (And you’ll really like where you are now.)