Hillary L’Ecuyer, IIDA, Interiors
Kansas City, MO
Hillary has been designing interior spaces with Hollis + Miller for over three years, but is also actively involved in the local and regional design community. Having worked with a number of Kansas City-area school districts, she’s become well-versed in designing with the end user in mind to best support both students and educators.
What drew you to interior design?
I chose to pursue interior design as a career path because of what it is at its very core – the intersection of creative problem solving and embodied beauty benefitting users of every background. Growing up in a rural small town, I have witnessed first-hand how a once-in-a-generation building project can pull people together to leave their community better than it was, which is a powerful thing to experience. Education design holds a special place in my heart because of the that lasting change and legacy we help create in communities.
Where do you look for inspiration?
It sounds cheesy, but inspiration is truly everywhere! For me, the trick is taking the time and space to step away from the design problem, unplug from work and give myself the permission to let my brain wander. The best ideas usually come when I don’t force them to hurry up and arrive. They usually show up when I’ve allowed time for perusing a magazine, going for a walk or taking a drive through the city – there’s almost always a nugget of inspiration hiding in those moments. The adventure is finding it.
How can furniture integration transform a space?
In my opinion, furniture integration is the “secret sauce” to transforming a good space to a great space. It can even have impacts on the exterior of the building. Thinking about what furniture is required to support the end users, the size and flexibility of those pieces, and how those selections impact things like locations of exterior glass and interior lighting will unlock the next level of functionality for an interior space.
What do you enjoy most about interiors projects?
I always enjoy the last few months of a project – being on site, watching our designs coming up out of the ground and seeing the client’s reaction to what we’ve been visioning with them. The hard work of dreaming and documenting what can be is done, then our job is to make sure it’s fully realized. Construction administration can cause us to problem solve, but it’s always a chance to learn more and be better in the future.
How has COVID impacted how you design? How do you see things evolving as we move forward?
COVID has triggered new interior design considerations – redefined proxemics (personal space bubbles), renewed focus on indoor air quality, and reimagined integration of technology to support telework and learning, just to name a few. But the shift I’m most interested to watch evolve is our ability to continue executing collaborative design and peer mentorship. Moving into a hybrid working mode will cause us to yet again recalibrate how we relate to and work with each other – the second time of doing so in just about a year. I’m sure we’ll have new processes and innovative ideas emerge, which is always exciting to watch.
Where do you see the industry going next?
I’m excited to see our industry tackle long-standing challenges surrounding diversity, equity and social justice. Beautiful, supportive design is a basic human right, and bringing these issues to the forefront of our conscience and conversations will only help our clients and communities succeed.
Tell us about how you’ve gotten involved with the KC design community and how it impacts your work.
July 1 will mark the end of my four-year tenure on the IIDA Mid-America Chapter Board. I started by serving as the Vice President for Campus Relations, then most recently as Chapter President-Elect, President and Past President.
These roles have given me so much – a chance to empower and learn from a beyond talented group of designers in Kansas City and Wichita, a chance to travel to share knowledge and learn from Chapter leaders around the nation, and a chance to gain leadership skills otherwise outside of daily design duties at Hollis + Miller. These experiences have stretched and challenged me as a designer and as a person, bringing forward the importance of listening, empathy and community building as the bedrock of great design.
My leadership experience in the design community was an invaluable opportunity, and one that I highly recommend to anyone that may be considering it.