Lisa Gorman

School of Interior Design helped designer lay foundations for her career

#myJourney -- When Lisa Gorman isn't reviewing construction codes, going over blueprints, collaborating with clients and architectures teams, overseeing interior renovations, picking finishes, or otherwise preoccupied with the four to eight projects she oversees at a time, she's most likely at home painting.

Gorman is the Design Lead at Overcash Demmitt Architects (ODA) in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she works on a variety of projects like residential, commercial, and mixed-use spaces, corporate offices, small restaurants, and small boutique hotels.

Gorman, who graduated from Anderson University's School of Interior Design in 2010, has worked at ODA for three years, but has also been an active artist in her off-time, recently featured in a solo show at Orange Olive Hair Gallery, a popular award-winning hair salon in Charlotte that also supports the local art scene.

"I think my art makes me a stronger designer, and my design makes me a stronger artist," she says. "Design lets me tap into the technical side of my art, and art lets me tap into the creative side of design. It's fun to see it all come together."

Gorman took art classes during her time at AU, and even considered minoring in the subject. Those art classes proved just as useful to her interior design career as those in her major.

"Art Foundations was one of the most fundamental classes I took at AU. With strong art professors, I had the building blocks to explore any form of design that came my way, from furniture design to structural detailing and conceptualization."

As a designer, her biggest accomplishment so far has been the new corporate headquarters for marketing firm Red Ventures.

Red Ventures Corporate Headquarters, Building 3 (RV3), in Fort Mill, South Carolina is a 186,000-square-foot office building that features conference rooms, a food court, and a six lane, 3,000-square-foot bowling alley in the basement. It was the second bowling alley Gorman designed, and she's getting ready to work on her third.

"Bowling alleys are kind of becoming a continual thing," says Gorman. For RV3, the bowling alley was refurbished from Brunswick Bowling, She finds that designing an alley isn't much different from designing a restaurant (and she's designed plenty of restaurants). "The process is the same: research, overall vision, inspiration, detail-orientation, execution, and a strong construction administration relationship with the general contractor."

Gorman's time AU helped prepare her for a career in interior design.

"For a small private school, we had a lot of focus on the architecture side, and not just picking finishes or residential designs. We had solid grounding in construction techniques, construction detailing, codes."

In her classes at AU, Gorman and other students would often work with real-world clients with realistic problems, rather than ideal academic situations, going past design and into construction documents and codes.

"There's a whole real-world element that I was exposed to through some of the projects at Anderson where we coordinated with real clients—real people, with real problems and real spaces," she says. "A lot of the adjuncts are also practicing architects and designers. That was a huge asset because you can learn so much more from the real world that you can't find in a textbook."

The average graduating class of interior design majors contains seven to fourteen students. A degree in interior design traditionally leads to a wide variety of work, ranging from jobs in architecture firms, to transportation, to both corporate and municipal work. For example, Gorman's twin sister, who also went to AU's School of Interior Design, went in a different direction, instead working on high-end residential design. Meanwhile, Gorman and ODA are welcoming May 2014 AU graduate to the team: Jennifer Kline, a local of Charlotte, North Carolina.

After graduating from AU, Gorman attended the Florence Institute of Design International in Florence, Italy, and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design. She says one AU class that helped her succeed not just in grad school but also at her work was Building Construction Systems, which taught her how different materials, building systems, and structures work together.

In the end, it isn't just the course loads and classwork that develops interior design students into professionals.

"I'd say principles learned at AU have served me more than simple practices," says Gorman. "Principles like self-discipline, high standards, hard work-ethic, detail orientation, and professionalism are key for me."