He was just there getting his car serviced. He did not expect that asking the woman across from him for her magazine would start a conversation. It turned out she was a professor of interior design at Anderson University. Kerry Howard had always dreamed of working in interior design.
Thirteen years after graduating from Anderson's interior design program, Kerry Howard found himself as the keynote speaker at Discover ADAC in Atlanta this fall.
According to its website, ADAC, or the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, is one of the Southeast's most distinguished design centers and home to some of world's best furnishings, textiles, and accessories. For the first time in 50 years Discover ADAC opened its doors to the public in what was once an exclusive event for designers and architects; the unprecedented occasion made Howard's delivery of the keynote a special honor. He discussed his background, education and work history, and spoke about the design of enduring interiors.
"Every day is different, I never do the same thing," Howard said.
Just two years after graduating from Anderson University in 1999, Howard started his own business, KMH Interiors LLC, based in Mid-town Atlanta, Georgia. Howard said he had always wanted to start his own business; it just took a couple of years to get going. His previous work experience included jobs at a furniture company and working on residential design projects. Now, Howard says his business, which had done very well despite the slumping economy, is working on projects with $500,000 budgets.
Since entering the business world, Howard says he has spoken at every college in Georgia and a few in South Carolina. He said Anderson has one of the strongest interior design schools in the country, adding that the courses were not easy, but covered a broad spectrum of aspects of the field.
Howard said his journey as a designer began in a waiting room with AU interior design professor Anne Martin, who now is the dean of the school.
Howard attributes the designer he is today to Martin. He remembered a project he worked on for three weeks only to hear Martin tell him he could do better once he turned it in. She was tough to the point of making him angry, he said, but it were her high expectations that helped shape him into the designer he has become.
Martin was tough, says Howard, but she believed in him.