Happy International Women’s Day to you! Celebrated in homes, schools and workplaces around the globe, today is a day to celebrate progress, call for change and celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
If you didn’t get a chance to read our earlier story with Rice Fergus Miller’s Kristen Linn, who is blazing trails as the lead architect on the new building that Vibe is proud to call home, you better hop over and do that now (here’s the link). But come back and read this, because we’ve got another powerhouse woman on our team that you really have to meet. Her name: Stéphanie Isaacs. And there’s no better day to get to know her than on a day when we’re celebrating bold change and ‘women in the changing world of work.’
Stéphanie may or may not have known what she was getting into when Rice Fergus Miller assigned her head up all of the interior design work on our project, but we’re damn glad to have her with us, and know that you will be too, from the moment you walk in the door at Vibe this Fall. Hear what she has to say about a few things, including transparency, connectedness and pink hardhats.
Vibe: What inspired you to get into interior design?
SI: I think it was all those episodes of “This Old House” that I was forced to watch as a kid. Ha! Truthfully, I was always kind of a squirrelly kid with tons of interests. One year I was tap dancing, another year I was on a pottery wheel, and the year after that I was writing poetry. If I’m not constantly learning or experiencing new things, I don’t thrive. Design as a career allows me to take a deep dive into worlds outside of my own experience. You’re getting inside the thing that you’re trying to design, and it requires research and educating yourself about all the moving parts and pieces. Every new project is like going to school I’m a total nerd for it.
Vibe: How would you describe your approach to design?
SI: My design approach really attempts to arrive at the most simple expression of how a thing or space needs to function. I ask myself: ‘What is this thing actually trying to accomplish?’ Then I look at the problem in its most abstract form. You’re questioning everything you know and basically throwing it out the window. Stripping it down often reveals a more beautiful version of itself. Then it’s an additive process, playing with scale, texture and materiality to make an aesthetic statement. Sometimes you come up with total crap, but you keep working at it until it’s not. It’s those Eureka! moments you live for. Any designer will tell you it’s not just problem solving. Bucky (Buckminster Fuller) said it best: ‘When I’m working on a problem I never think about beauty, I think only how to solve the problem. But when I am finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.’
Vibe: According to a 2016 survey by Women in Architecture, 1 in 5 women worldwide say that they would not encourage a woman to start a career in architecture. How do you feel about that?
SI: Honestly, I’m bummed that we still have to talk about this in 2017. Discrimination, unequal pay, harassment, etc. are all things that you’re going to deal with in any male-dominated profession and you constantly have to prove yourself in the field. Construction sites get interesting. I made it a point to swear more just so I could be ‘one of the guys.’ Yes, there are some stories. A friend of mine attended a conference for women in architecture and they had distributed a gift bag with various things, one of which was a pink hardhat. A PINK HARDHAT. That was literally exactly the opposite of what they should have done. Architecture and design isn’t for everyone, but that’s not necessarily because you are a woman.
Vibe: Talk to us about Vibe and the building that Vibe will call home. What has been your inspiration behind the design work that you’re doing on the project?
SI: Vibe and the other tenants of the building hold tight to their values of enriching and elevating the customer / member experience. Vibe does this by reaching out, developing and nurturing community relationships. ChocMo, Crabtree Kitchen + Bar and High Spirits achieve this through educating customers about high quality products and services that are local to the region. There is an educational component to each of the client programs, which really lends itself to the idea of transparency. The building design responds to this by being honest in its use of materials and construction. Nothing fake or fabricated. This transparency of design will help connect the users of the space, and help reinforce the integrity of business and the spirit of the owners. My clients are my inspiration!
Vibe: How do you think Vibe Coworks, and the building space that it’s in, will change the world of work for local creatives, entrepreneurs and remote workers in Poulsbo and throughout the Kitsap Peninsula?
SI: I think this building will help to change the preconceived notion that you have to live in a big city to feel connected. There are so many great stories happening right at the local level and very inspiring entrepreneurial people behind it. If you can give folks a cool place to gather, eat, work and network… you’re creating a hub for connectedness. There is really nothing like it in the area!
Vibe: What keeps your creative energy flowing?
SI: Travel. I hardly get to do it enough, but it’s the one thing I most look forward to. Again, it’s about experiencing anything outside of what you know and attaining a different perspective of the world. Travel provides endless inspiration for creativity. It’s a given, and you’ll find most creative people actually require it. For me, it’s about asking questions about the world. I’m super inquisitive by nature and I like to know why things are the way they are. How could they be different? Do they need to be different? I like to live in a cerebral state of mind most of the time, which generates interesting outcomes in terms of creativity. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Vibe: If you could design for anyone, who would it be?
SI: Anthony Bourdain!