By Sienna Richardson-Isberg, Anthem Properties
CREW Membership Spotlight - Shauna Root, Principal of Root Interiors
Sustainability and designing for a Circular Economy is the future of the Real Estate Market.
Root Interiors was founded with the dream of working on projects and with clients dedicated to the greater good of society. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Shauna decided to start her own firm with a focus on creating spaces that positively impact people’s health and well-being. She continues to learn and develop her knowledge on concepts relating to the circular economy, zero-waste living and the sharing economy. She is currently studying to the become a WELL APTM.
Shauna started her career with a focus in hospitality design, which includes hotels, restaurants and café’s then shifted into designing commercial workplaces. During her career, she has worked at established design firms including SSDG Interiors and Perkins + Will Architecture with opportunities to work on some notable projects, such as Sparkling Hills Resort, the River Rock Casino, the Vancouver Police Department, as well as Golder Associates (over 140,000 square feet). These experiences have made her a well-rounded designer able to manage a diverse range or project types and sizes.
When she’s not designing, Shauna is teaching interior design part-time at BCIT as she has done for the past 14 years. As both a member and past volunteer for CREW, we were excited to sit down with Shauna to learn about her vision for Root Interiors, insight into commercial and residential interior design and what to expect when you sign up for interior design school. Read the inspiring interview below.
What led you to start Root Interiors?
I’ve been working for over 20 years so this is a new challenge that I can give myself. There was a life moment where I realized the value I wanted to provide people and knew that I wanted to work for myself despite it being a big undertaking. When I first started thinking about it, I didn’t have it all mapped out, but I knew it was what I wanted to do.
What is your vision for Root Interiors?
I want it to be authentically ‘me’. Sustainable design is an important topic in the design industry today. All of us working in the Real Estate Industry have the ability as well as, an obligation to be leaders in the market. We can have a huge impact on clients by guiding them through the decision making process and helping navigate through the plethora of information and green-washing marketing material out there. There is a strong focus on sustainability in design education as teachers are being pushed to bring it to their classroom, ensuring that the new grads educate the seasoned designers and create the catalyst for change.
I recently completed a zero-waste project with my students. The challenge was for them to keep their garbage for 12 weeks. The purpose was for them to evaluate all that they collected and use it to change their mindsets to think about what materials we select in our designs and ask questions like what’s in it? How did it get to us? Does it have harmful materials in it? What happens when we throw it away? Where is “away”? These questions fundamentally change the way we think about what materials we select.
Root Interiors will focus on using less raw new materials, utilizing recovered products from commercial interiors or from older Vancouver homes, which are now required to be deconstructed rather than demolished. I want to challenge the way designers have typically approached design solutions in the past.
Vancouver is a great market for this change of mindset to occur, as there are already changes occurring at various levels of society as well as government. Right now, I’m learning about alternative sourcing for materials, both as a designer as well as consumer. This isn’t a passing trend, this is time of transition towards a more sustainable future.
What got you involved in CREW?
When I was at Perkins + Will, we decided to go to a couple of events and I discovered how intimate the events were which I really liked. It made it a bit easier to make meaningful connections, since you are more likely to see people from event to event.
Last year I volunteered for the annual CREW golf tournament. It was a great opportunity to meet and interact with a bunch of other volunteers. I really enjoyed it, and will definitely get involved again in the future.
For someone who might be considering a career in interior design, can you describe some of what they should expect?
You start by getting a bachelor’s degree in a 4-year program. There are 3 schools in BC that offer a bachelor’s degree in interior design, which include: BCIT, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Vancouver Island University.
It’s important to have the ability to think creatively. A common buzz word in many industries these days is “design thinking”. This essentially comes down to constantly iterating, not just coming up with one idea and running with it but coming up with multiple ideas and having the ability to do so quickly. Although being able to draw can certainly help at school, many of these skills are taught during the programs.
A few of the career avenues that Interior Design Grads take after school are: Interior Design, obviously there is a wide range of market segments to explore from Residential, Multi-family Residential, Hospitality, Commercial, Education, to Health Care.
Some Designers love the creatively and don’t like to get involved to much in the details, others thrive in engagement and programming, thinking strategically about the space and how it is utilized. Many technically focused designers thrive on Construction Drawings, Details and Specification Writing. There are actually a lot of roles within the term “Interior Designer".
Another avenue design graduates, or designers who have worked in the industry pivot towards is product sales: Tile, Furniture, Fabrics, Architectural Products.
Any advice you’d give developers or commercial landlords when it comes to engaging with ID on projects?
Get Interior Designers involved in projects early to work on plans and test fits with the architect. People often think interior design happens at the end of a project, but projects are more successful when consideration for the interiors and how people interact with and experience space are imbedded early in the process in an integrated manner.
There is a shift in the way that we live and work in today’s society. It’s a decentralized model, or sharing economy’ where co-working and co-living is on the rise. Companies on the commercial development side should consider what kinds of amenities could be included in buildings to encourage people to come to work. I think there are opportunities for landlords to optimize some less desirable spaces in existing buildings into co-working spaces that are catered to specific markets or demographics. For example, a co-working space for independent interior designs that includes a resource library.
Any podcasts you’ve listened to or books you’ve read recently that you’d recommend?
The 3 Day Effect – Florence Williams
It’s about how spending 3 days outside can reset your equilibrium and can help maintain your connection to nature.
On behalf of CREW Vancouver, we would like to thank Shauna for this engaging and informative interview!