Keeping in Mind the Importance of a Personal Touch & Practical Solutions. Meet ASID Design Excellence Award Winner Lisa Nieves
A native of the Fort Lauderdale area, Lisa received her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design and graduated with honors from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. An Allied Member of ASID, She serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida South Chapter of The American Society of Interior Designers.
Her experience includes coordinating contract projects at 4141 Design in the Miami Design District, collaborating with her clients – some of the best interior designers of Miami on major installations – and was formerly the in-house designer at Concepto Modern Living, the first and largest Calligaris studio in Florida.
Helping clients create beautiful and functional spaces that reflect their sense of self and suits their lifestyle is her ultimate goal.
Q: After high school, where did you feel your career path would take you?
LN: I graduated young (17) with a low GPA and came from a working-class family that felt college was only for the wealthy. I looked for a good “job” with benefits. I ended up working for Publix Supermarkets for 18 years, the first 12 being across the street from the College I always dreamed of going to, The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
Q: How did you get started as a Designer?
LN: I was at a work meeting with my colleagues in my same position, Office Staff, from various stores in our District. It was shortly after the sudden loss of both my Mother and Older brother, the District Manager asked me to stand up in front of the group. He said, “if I had her in everyone of my stores, my job would not be necessary.” That was it, it was a classic movie moment, I could not see or hear anyone, only the voice in my head saying, this is not what I want to be when I grow up.
The untimely deaths of my family members, both much too young, taught me quickly in that moment, that life is too short. Not long after that meeting, in the middle of the Summer, I went online and took tests, the type that a guidance counselor might give to someone considering trade school. I knew I would go to the Art Institute, but I did not know what for. Every test result came back the same, Interior Designer. I met with an admissions officer late summer and was enrolled in my first two classes in the Fall. By the Winter semester, I “retired” from Publix, got a part time position at Expo Design Center, took out enormous student loans, and started college full time. Three and a half years later, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Interior Design and graduated with honors.
Q: How would you describe your design style?
LN: Eclectic, I love it all. I am so glad when I can interview a client and learn what type of Design style, they prefer. It gives me something new to explore. I adore Italian Modern, as well as classic mid-century, but I also cannot live without traditional elements, be it early American, Victorian, Cottage, or Coastal Contemporary. I feel each space does not necessarily have to entirely match, as long as there is a good flow, some commonalities, and you are surrounded by things that you love, are comfortable, and each space adds value to your life.
Q: Do you have a favorite room in the house you like to design?
LN: A traditional formal dining room. I may be one of the rare individuals that prefers dinner in the dining room, even by myself. Fresh cut flowers are a must, as well as candles! A perfectly set table makes my heart happy.
Q: For those in our audience not familiar with ASID, can you tell us about the organization and your current role as President?
LN: Founded in 1975, ASID is the oldest, largest, and only multi-disciplinary professional organization for interior designers, interior design students and the manufacturers and suppliers who support the profession. There are 46 Professional Chapters across the U.S. three Florida Chapters to include North, West, and South Florida. In our current fiscal year, the Florida South Chapter of ASID celebrated 40 years, and is the second largest in the U.S.
As President of the Florida South Chapter, a non-voting position, my role is to lead our Board Members as they make decisions, plan events both educational and fun, and communicate to our chapter members everything that is happening in the Design Industry as well as what is going on involving advocacy. This year found us fighting once again for our right to practice as professionals, so professional advocacy is a big part of what we do, ensuring other industry professionals as well as our clients understand the role of an Interior Designer and how Design Impacts Life.
Founded in 1975, ASID is the oldest, largest, and only multi-disciplinary pssional organization for interior designers, interior design students and the marers anpliers who support the profession.
Q: What was your first job? And how did it shape or impact you?
LN: All four years of High School, I worked at McDonalds, it shaped my work ethic, and helped me deal with all types of people.
Q: Were there moments in your career that were pivotal to getting where you are today?
LN: Leaving a position that no longer satisfied me or helped me grow in my design career, without having a back up plan. My work now is so satisfying and being able to walk away from people and places that do no bring happiness is freedom. I no longer go to work; I just do what I do and enjoy it.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments in your career?
LN: Winning the Golden Aurora Award last summer, I could not believe it. It is a 14-state competition, my Design Partner and I won for Residential Interior Renovation.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
LN: Malala Yousafzai- she is a hero in my eyes. All she wanted was an education, and after a horrible incident, she persevered, got that education, a Nobel Peace Prize, and she in turn educated us all!
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
LN: The same as always, if you are strong willed, opinionated, hardworking, business minded, and fearless, then you are considered a bully or some other b word. The same traits in a man make him a leader …
Five Things About Lisa Nieves
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Eve, I really don’t understand why an apple was her/ our downfall. Chocolate I understand… but an apple????
2. Do you love or hate rollercoasters?
I think they are great; my neck and stomach have other ideas.
3. Favorite city and why?
I love how walkable Washington D.C. is!
4. What app can’t you live without?
E-mail. I cannot tolerate having dozens of unread emails waiting for me at the office. I like to have access to them from wherever I am.
5. Have you ever had a surprise party? (that was an actual surprise).