Spotlight: Intern Jules Stafford

August 9, 2022
An interview with Jules Stafford, Summer Intern at Ankrom Moisan

Q: Tell us what you learned through your summer internship at Ankrom Moisan.

 

A: This summer, I’ve gotten the chance to work on so many different projects, participate in client meetings, go on site visits, and get to know some wonderful people. I’ve learned so much this summer, but one of the biggest things I’ve learned is how to be the best designer I can be. I’ve learned to step out of my comfort zone and be open to new experiences and lessons. I hope that as I step into my career I will continue to learn; pulling from all of the lessons and experiences I’ve had here at Ankrom Moisan!

 

Q: What was the biggest surprise you experienced?

 

A: How welcoming and kind everyone I met has been! I was definitely intimidated to walk into a large Architecture and Interior Design firm as a summer intern, but all of the designers and architects have been so kind. I remember walking in on my first day and it was as if everyone had known me for years. Everyone is ready to jump whenever I have any questions, ask me for my opinion, and trust me with decisions. They have become great mentors and have treated me so extremely well. It’s been such an amazing surprise.

 

Q: What story do you think you will tell all of your classmates?

 

A: At George Fox University, we have a tight knit group of Interior Design majors. My cohort is small, but we’re growing, so I want to give reassurance to my peers.  As students, it can be overwhelming to walk into a firm and need to learn so many new things, so fast. Suddenly you’re aware of just how much you don’t know. So, a story I would tell my peers is how I’ve learned, despite my fears, that I am capable of so much. We are learning exactly what we need to learn. All the projects and homework is so helpful and valuable. I’m excited to go into my last year with everything I’ve learned and work on new projects.

 

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Mass Timber in the Office

July 29, 2022
Biophilic Incentive for Showing Up to Work in Person

Intro

It is a challenge right now for employers everywhere to get people into the office. It has us rethinking ways to encourage people to want to physically show up to work. We are envisioning what the office of the future could be, and are considering how to simplify, how to incorporate holistic wellness, encourage connection, and sustainability. Mass timber, used in office building design, meets many of these needs by offering occupants a healthy, efficient, inviting, and sustainable workplace environment. It is not surprising that more businesses are seeking out the benefits of biophilic design and timber-built architecture to pursue and retain their best employees. Locally and sustainably sourced, prefabricated mass timber is not only considered a sustainable building material but can also streamline the construction timeline and decrease the construction budget.

 

Connection

Researchers suggest that mass timber provides both physical and psychological biophilic benefits that go beyond the warm, natural, and comforting aesthetic appeal of wood. Mass timber reconnects people with nature by bringing the outside into the workplace. The biophilic benefits of timber speak to a person’s four out of five senses; one can see the variations of colors and grain within the wood, as well as experience touch, smell or even sounds of the timber.  Wood, as an environmental design choice has been known to reduce sympathetic nervous activity and blood pressure. These sensory cues naturally remind people of their connection with the outside environment and nature. This is important as people who relate to nature often find themselves in an improved mood, feeling more productive, calmer, and experiencing a higher degree of concentration. Mass timber workplaces have been described by occupants as relaxing and soothing environments which in turn naturally ease stress. Employers have reported that they have seen improvement in their bottom line, along with increased morale, fewer sick days, and less employee turnover since moving into a mass timber interior environment. These experiences contribute to an overall healthier workplace.

 

Wellness

Wood naturally provides benefits that impact our human health. Mass timber has shown to have low VOCs, and that wood can regulate indoor air quality and relative humidity to comfortable ranges for most people. When conditions are dry, wood can release moisture into the air. Similarly, when the air contains humidity, moisture can be absorbed into the mass timber, maintaining a healthier and more balanced environment. Wood is naturally antimicrobial, as bacteria is less easily transferred from wood than from plastic.

 

Sustainable

Material matters when it comes to a sustainable built environment. When appropriately and efficiently sourced, wood is a renewable and sustainable material that reduces carbon emissions in the environment. Those seeking mass timber buildings have successfully found that they can substitute wood in place of other construction materials typically used, such as brick, concrete, and steel.

 

Simplify

Designing with mass timber inheritably simplifies the interior finishes as the wood unquestionably becomes the predominate feature. The ceiling, structural beams, and columns remain exposed without requiring finish applications. The long-spanning structural system of mass timber not only brings nature inside, but additionally, offers ample natural light and easily accommodates both an exposed ceiling design as well as an open office floor plan.

 

Mass timber simplifies and decreases construction cost and schedule. Because mass timber is lighter in weight than steel and concrete structural counterparts, often smaller and less expensive foundations and other structural components are required. By constructing with prefabricated timber, which increases efficiency, the labor needed on-site decreases and saves on overall costs.

 

by Kim Gonzales, Senior Associate / Interior Designer

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Sustainability & Ankrom Moisan Interiors

March 1, 2022
An interview with Erica Buss, Ankrom Moisan’s Research & Information Services Manager

Q: What efforts are Ankrom Moisan making to provide better information and resources when it comes to sustainability?

 

A: Ankrom Moisan was an early signatory to the AIA Materials Pledge, which encourages architects and designers to shift the way we evaluate the products and finishes we specify; taking into consideration the materials to improve the health of ourselves and our planet.

 

Erica curates and maintains a list of resources for our interior designers and architects to easily reference as they are evaluating and looking for the most appropriate product or material for their project. She also coordinates and organizes our vendor presentations and educational sessions; selecting topics around sustainability and healthy materials. The library prioritizes and highlights products to support human health, social equity, climate health, and a circular economy.”

 

Members of our sustainability reform group are also active members of the Portland Materials Transparency Collaborative (PMTC) and the Healthy Materials Collaborative (HMC). Both provide education, tools, and resources collected by our local A+D Communities. Additionally, this group works toward reformatting our specification template to make healthier and more sustainable choices the default. As part of that exercise, the team has created internal resources for prioritizing and selecting sustainable materials, such as resilient flooring.

 

Our firm sponsored eight interior designers to complete the Parsons Healthier Materials and Sustainable Buildings Certificate Program. This is a four-course program that allowed the designers to take a deep dive into sustainable material selections and bring enthusiasm and knowledge back to the firm, to their projects and clients. The designers who participated in this course were Jamie Kreger, Clare Goddard, Maddy Gorman, Ruth Bernal, Seaian Wood, Laura Serecin, Kaci Mespelt, Sydney Ellison. Ankrom hopes to have more interior designers complete this course in the future.

 

 

Q: Other firms have opted to remove all Redlist products from their library – Is this something that Ankrom Moisan is considering? Why or why not?

 

A: This is something that Ankrom is exploring as a firm-wide initiative, though we haven’t made the leap yet. The library is a resource to serve the designers and their projects. Steps in this direction that have been implemented were with PVC. We removed vinyl fabrics from the library and created a dedicated section for PVC-fee wallcovering. We also highlighted flooring products that are PVC free and/or provide full disclosure of material content to make it easier for our design staff to specify healthier flooring choices.

 

 

 

Q: How can we as designers do more to incorporate salvaged materials or encourage material reuse rather than replacing them with new ones?

 

A: Ankrom Moisan has relationships with a handful of salvaged wood brands in the region, as well as a salvaged metal fabricator.

 

As an interior design group, we collectively understand the importance of building relationships with local salvage companies to incorporate more reused materials into projects rather than buying new ones. We have an ongoing discussion to share experiences or ideas on how we can work with existing conditions and materials creatively to effectively reuse them in projects.

 

 

Q: What tools and resources are available to designers to help us educate our clients about the importance of using sustainable products and implementing sustainable practices?

 

A: Our greatest resource is the designer’s ability to strategically engage with the client and draw out what their values are around sustainability, equity, human health, and then being able to link those values back to your material selection strategy. Does the client have an Environmental, Social and corporate Governance (ESG) framework or vision that you can point to and say, “this is how healthier material selection can support your sustainability goals?” And then prioritize, together with the client, what aspects of sustainability you are going to focus on in your material selection, whether that’s human health, carbon emissions, social equity, DEI, etc. In the end, you work with the client to establish a goal around material selection and then use your material expertise and influence as a designer to execute on that goal. You also need the construction team on board, so they are on the same page when product substitutions are suggested.

 

 

Q: Where do you see the future of sustainability in Interior Design and Architecture? Do you see any changes on the horizon when it comes to how our industry approaches sustainability?

 

A: The conversation around climate change and sustainability is becoming more mainstream both within and outside the industry. Erica attributes this to the influence of Gen Z, who highly values sustainability, high-quality products that last longer, social equity, racial justice, and environmental responsibility. “They live these values in their consumer spending choices, where they chose to work, how they travel, etc. They have a positive influence on brands and manufacturers, pushing for change. They get it, they are listening, and the brands who want to remain relevant and stay in the game are trying to change and make products that match these values with processes and materials that are carbon positive, safe for humans, the environment, and society.”

 

We are seeing more and more businesses adopt Environmental, Social, and corporate Governance (ESG) mentioned in the previous question. This is a rating system developed by the United Nations that scores a company’s social and environmental factors. This is used to make informed choices around investments and future growth. As more and more companies adopt this the design industry will need to respond to help our clients make choices that align with their values and priorities.

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Project Materials Spotlight

October 12, 2021
The Green Room Lounge at the Fox Tower

A trend our workplace team has been observing lately: landlords are considering their tenants more like customers and creating spaces as a lifestyle brand to attract and retain tenants in their buildings. In response to this trend, TMT Development contracted with our team to turn an irregularly shaped, difficult-to-lease suite on the 25th floor of the Fox Tower into a communal space where employees can meet, socialize or relax throughout the day/ after work.

 

We presented three design concepts to TMT, and they ultimately chose the “Staycation” scheme, which would bring a vibrant, fun environment to a generally overcast and earth-toned city view. Pulling inspiration from colors and textures from travels around the country and the world, I wanted the lounge to feel like you just stumbled into a lively, hidden gem of an outdoor bar in a historic area of town; a secret only the locals know about.

 

 

Materials are everything. They create mood, texture, ambiance, curiosity, and comfort. To achieve the “Staycation” look and feel, I specified Portola limewash paint to create a washed, rough texture on the walls, giving the effect of aged concrete walls. The terracotta light fixtures bring warmth through the natural clay material, while the sconces and surface mounted, handmade ceramic fixtures by local lighting company Cedar & Moss, add a touch of artistry and craft. In one of the early schematic mood boards, we included an image of a monkey light fixture; the client fell in love. We sourced the same fixture to add whimsy, humor and an element of discovery to the bar area. It hangs above the shuffleboard, camouflaged into the leafy wallpaper, a reward for those who pay close attention to their surroundings.

 

The mischievous monkey thread continues into the Private Party Room. From afar, the Astek wallpaper used in this room, meant for private gatherings and celebrations, looks sophisticated and simple. As you step closer, you realize your party is crashed by a bunch of wildly playful monkeys, again rewarding those who pay close attention to details! In contrast to the lush greens in the main lounge space, this room leans into warm tones with beautiful terrazzo floor tiles, and large bright planters.

 

 

Located on the 25th floor, this suite has beautiful, vast views of downtown Portland and the forested hills beyond. The irregular shape of the suite lent itself to opportunities for a variety of seating types, including both social and more private areas. I knew I wanted the lounge to feel open yet “zoned” for different activities, so my original intent was to use modern breezeblocks to create a partially open partition to bring the natural light further into the main bar area and delineate between the main bar and the dining area. Because of cost constraints and limited installers that were willing to install the breezeblocks, we came up with an alternate, less expensive solution: a rope wall. Using simple brass rope attachments, manila rope, and an opening framed with walnut wood, this wall visually connects the two spaces and adds more textural material and character to the lounge.

 

The furniture and fixture selection was critical to the design concept: rope, leather, wood, and color were materials and elements I looked for. Bent-wood chairs hang from rope, swinging gently in front of the nearly full-height windows. Dark walnut chairs pleasantly contrast against white oak tables. Woven leather lounge chairs, solid wooden log side tables, and green powder-coated chair legs are placed throughout. And lastly, a bright yellow Smeg refrigerator in the main bar attracts your wandering eye, a piece of functional art. The result of these elements working together is a lounge that lifts your spirits as soon as you step foot inside. ✨

 

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.

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Project Materials Spotlight

August 25, 2021
Studio Building Bike Room Amenity

In early 2020, TMT Development contacted Ankrom Moisan Interiors to design several small tenant improvement projects in the Studio Building and the Fox Tower in downtown Portland. The Studio Building at 919 SW Taylor is one of the oldest buildings in the downtown center, built in the 1920s as a musical conservatory. Now housing modern office space, TMT desired to add a bike room amenity to the existing basement, to provide tenants with ample bike storage, two shower rooms, and a bike repair area. 

 

 

Roberta Pennington, the project manager, looped me (Maddy) into this project as the designer, and we went far beyond TMT’s expectations. Inspired by the historical music background of the building, we presented two musically inspired design options: Jazzy & Classical. Ultimately, TMT decided to move forward with the vibrant and energetic Jazzy scheme to bring more life into the existing spooky basement. “Jazzy” pulls inspiration from vintage jazz posters, historic palettes, and art motifs of the 1920s and 1960s jazz eras. 

 

Working within the existing dark, concrete basement, we strove to brighten and enliven the space while creatively guiding employees from the elevators to the bike room down a long hallway. Being a budget-conscious project, we used simple and inexpensive design moves to add major impact and character to the space and keep up with the fast-paced timeline.

 

First, old, unused pipes and conduit were removed from the existing ceilings of the hallways and storage room (which would eventually become the bike storage space). The remaining pipes and structure were then painted with vibrant colors to not only create a beautiful, cohesive aesthetic, but help group what would otherwise be chaotic and overwhelming utilities into a visual whole – the Gestalt effect. Dozens of exposed pipes became a sculptural, colorful ceiling. 

  

The existing concrete floor remained, but was cleaned and repaired as necessary. Keeping an existing painted red stripe on the floor (which led to fire suppression equipment down the hall), we incorporated this into the design as a wayfinding feature by adding a simple yellow stripe on top to connect the spaces (confirming that altering the stripe wasn’t against code). We also added a special custom tile inset signifying the entry to the bike room. Working with the AM Brand team, the design is a play on Oregon’s motto “She Flies with her Own Wings,” becoming Rotae Volat Propriis, or “She Flies with her own Wheels.” While Daltile can manufacture custom mosaic tile layouts onto their mesh backings, this added significant time and cost to the project, which we did not have. Instead, we simplified the tile design and reduced it down to two colors, and ordered whole sheets of black tiles and whole sheets of white tiles. The tile installers only had to swap individual tiles to create the lettering. By having the majority of the layout already adhered to the mesh backing; this saved time and cost in the end for the custom design & install. In the shower rooms, we used a waterproof uncoupling membrane underneath the new tile floor, allowing the tiles to move separately from the building structure and help prevent cracking and damage. The irregular cement tile floor design was inspired by the night sky often seen in jazz posters. 

 

 

The walls in the elevator lobby, hallway and bike room were treated simply and inexpensively with fresh paint. Near the elevators, we created a bike repair wall, featuring decorative wallpaper inspired by simplified Art Deco shapes. We tested the durability of multiple wallpaper materials by scratching samples with our house keys, to ensure the wallpaper would hold up to expected bumps and scratches in the future. We added simple linear light fixtures following a curved arch shape on the wallpaper, visually suggesting sound and expression of excitement. In the hallway, our Brand team riffed off the wallpaper shapes to design custom wall decals to abstractly resemble racing bicyclists. These also act as a wayfinding feature to the bike room. At the bike room entry, a custom-designed Portland biking map is framed and mounted to the wall. The walls and plywood are painted a vibrant red-orange, electrifying the experience. The bike racks and lockers are painted a different shade of red-orange in contrast, resulting in an unexpected explosion of color. Inside the shower rooms, the walls are lined with recycled clay tile from Fireclay Tile, making each of the tiny shower rooms fully waterproof and beautiful. Custom half-moon mirrors add another Art Deco element to the scheme.

 

Overall, the design and finish decisions resulted in a project that was within budget, on time, and made a huge impact on the user experience.

 

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.

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Simplifying the Specification Process

August 11, 2021
Discovering Proper Uses of Commercial Finishes and Materials

Within my design passion comes a desire to learn about how spaces and their materiality affect people mentally, psychologically, physiologically, and emotionally. One of the initiatives toward my career goals is researching and distilling technical material knowledge so it is easily accessible to all designers.

 

I enjoy dissecting the details about products and learning how to properly use materials in my work. I believe having a thorough understanding and awareness of the technical side of specifying finishes and materials is incredibly important to being a great designer. In the spring of 2020, I completed a course called the Healthy Materials Lab through the Parsons School of Design, which opened my eyes to the importance of the specification process as a designer. We have the huge responsibility to design spaces that are healthy for both the occupants and the environment, while also balancing efficiency, budget, and beauty.

 

 

When I first started in the interior design industry in 2015, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information interior designers are expected to learn and acquire over time, and I didn’t want to wait for that to come through my experience on the job. I desired a central resource for information, a “go-to” for all the questions I had about various finishes, to design my projects right the first time. After all, interior designers are jacks-of-all-materials, and with new and innovative products being introduced all the time, it can be difficult to keep up with the knowledge, even with the help of our wonderful product reps.

 

I attempted my version of data collection through lunch-and-learns and personal research, scribbled across multiple notebooks, and documented in digital files, but never succeeded in one place. The peer culture of my design studios in architecture school was extremely positive and supportive, which unfortunately isn’t always the case, never leaving a fellow studio-mate behind to get ahead yourself. I wanted to carry that same outlook into my career by sharing knowledge to help us all improve.

 

In entering the industry, the structure of learning about commercial products consisted of lunch-and-learns, NeoCon, on-the-job experience, and research on your own time. In a time where crowdsourcing information is the norm, the processes of ordering material samples and learning about products were challenging and out of date. I often asked myself: “Hasn’t this question been asked before?” and “Why isn’t this information easier to find?”

 

When Ankrom Moisan moved into our new Portland office in Old Town, our designers had access to a new, state-of-the-art material library run by our dedicated librarian and researcher, Erica Buss. While this was an immense improvement from our situation in the previous office, there was still the missing piece of how to use these materials successfully. When should I use resilient flooring over carpet? What is the difference between these three textile options? How will this countertop perform over this other material? There was crowdsourcing between designers through our office messaging apps, but sometimes you just need a thorough overview of all the important factors in specifying.

 

In January 2021, I was approached by Nicole Schmidt, the CEO of Source, to write blog articles detailing the important aspects to successfully specify various commercial finishes and materials. It felt like this gig was made for me. What I appreciate about the vision of this resource is the articles are meant to be informative, succinct, and easy to read for any level of design experience. I incorporate multiple perspectives by interviewing different manufacturer representatives for each product type, so there is a holistic and comprehensive overview. I ask reps to clarify common misconceptions and mistakes made by designers and recommended solutions, for any sustainable alternatives or aspects to consider, regarding the longevity of a product (and thus keeping it out of the landfill for longer).  I include any lesser-known “tricks of the trade,” such as the Coffee Spill Test coined by fellow AM interior designer Roberta Pennington to test coffee spill visibility on carpet samples. Source has other resources available to designers, such as material cost estimates to assist designers with their project budget constraints, and a central material library with dedicated researchers.

 

Keep your eye out for my next post, where I dive into a few recent projects and the stories behind the finish palettes.

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.

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Discovering a Love for Design

August 5, 2021
An Intersection for Life

This is a familiar story for many interior designers. I wanted to be an interior designer since I was in grade school; the signs were there from the beginning. I remember sitting at my dining table, butcher paper sprawled hastily across and sketching cross-sections of the earth. I drew mom and dad above rabbits and groundhogs below. Or, of course, all of my dream homes: the one that sat up in the tree canopies where the light casts shadows of wavering leaves on my bare walls, the one on a lake built around a central outdoor firepit where we laugh and play games together, and the one without permanent external walls, open to the fresh air at all hours of the day.

 

 

Playing with Legos and woodblocks alongside my brothers, I always took a different approach from their spaceships and tanks meant to destroy, and built homes instead, developing thorough storylines of the families that lived there. And, like many other peers from my generation, playing The Sims for hours on end had a large influence on me. Interior Design is an intersection of things I love: people, emotion, art, science, storytelling, psychology, behavior, and the senses.

 

 

I discovered the career of commercial interior design through my high school art teacher, who encouraged me to apply for the accredited Interior Architecture program at the University of Oregon. Through the program, I fell in love with the idea of creating and designing spaces that many people can enjoy in their everyday interactions with the world.

 

I continue to follow the breadcrumbs of my personal design passion: design for healing. I read Healing Spaces by Dr. Esther Sternberg and was hooked on the idea that well-designed environments can heal. This does not mean healthcare, but in every space we inhabit daily. Our workplace, our homes, the experience of grocery shopping, or the classrooms we have to sit in every day as children have an immense subconscious effect on our wellbeing. I want to promote a sense of safety and positivity for as many people as I can.

 

 

For my final comprehensive project in college, I designed a community space called the Ethical Culture Center of Oregon (or ECCO), a non-theistic sacred space and educational center based on ethics and humanist values, where everyone is welcome to explore what sacredness in their life means to them, while also learning what it means to others. I created a large contrasted communal room for listening and learning, with individual darkrooms for meditation and reflection. This marked the beginning of my journey in the search for knowledge to heal & connect.

 

In the next blog post, I’ll share how I am assimilating information to build a foundation for my knowledge and present that information to the industry.

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.

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Evolution of Office Amenities Q&A

October 8, 2020
A Special Report from Colliers International

COVID-19’s influence on the future of office space is one of the real estate industry’s million-dollar questions today. With many employees planning to work from home into 2021, is the traditional office environment outdated?

 

This question cuts to the heart of what we do, so we found a lot of insight (and encouragement) from this Colliers International report.

 

After interviewing experts in office leasing, tenant representation, workplace strategy, and more, Colliers International believes that offices continue to play an important role in how we conceptualize work. Read their report to learn about:

 

  • The effects of the work-from-home experiment
  • What changes can help make a return to the office more viable
  • How amenities can evolve to attract workers back to the office

 

Click HERE to view the Colliers International report.

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