Interview with Erika Sammons
ft3 Architecture Landscape Interior Design
Top 5 Under 5


Top 5 Under 5 / IDC CANADA
February 2014

Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) awards the Top 5 Under 5: Canada's Emerging Interior Designers. Presented in partnership with Interface and Knoll, this annual program, now in its third year, recognizes Canada's up-and-coming interior design professionals.

1. What did it mean to you to be named one of IDC's Top 5 Under 5 Emerging Interior Designers for 2013?

It was thrilling. It was a great honour to receive this award from the IDC and to be in the company of such talented interior designers.

2. What inspired you to become an interior designer?

The quality and character of space had a great influence on my childhood perceptions. From a young age, I was always interested in shape, pattern and space and felt as though I had an inclination for creativity. My parents always encouraged my artistic endeavours in music, art and photography. But it wasn't until I enrolled in my first environmental design class that I knew this was exactly what I wanted to pursue.

3. What advice do you have for other interior designers in the first five years of their career?

Expect to be out of your comfort zone the majority of the time. Don't be reluctant to ask lots of questions; being eager to learn is nothing to be ashamed of! Be proactive in issues that come up and know that in time, it will get easier. Participate in everything you can - groups within your firm, your professional association, design event committees, and even organizations outside the design community. These experiences will not only enrich your knowledge base but will also expand your social resources.

4. You will need to start thinking about writing the NCIDQ exam soon – are you ready? How are you preparing?

From a professional standpoint, I feel I am ready. I have been working for a number of years now, and have had the opportunity to gain experience in all stages of project work. Our professional association in Manitoba – PIDIM – and IDC both offer many resources for exam prep: info sessions, study groups and practice exams - so I am definitely taking advantage of those resources. In the next few months, I hope to become involved in the PIDIM council as the provisional representative. I anticipate that this experience will aid in the process of obtaining my NCIDQ certification.

5. By becoming a Top 5 for 2013, you received an extensive prize package including airfare and accommodation to IIDEX Canada, participating in the Top 5 roundtable, a trophy designed by Tim Forbes presented to you during the IDC Annual Meeting, access to showroom parties and tours sponsored by Interface and Knoll, and dinner at one of Toronto's chicest restaurants through Dine by Design. Which part was most meaningful and what did you take away from the experience?

I have long coveted my monthly issue of Canadian Interiors magazine. So it was absolutely thrilling to have my work featured in such an excellent Canadian publication. After attending IIDEX, the award ceremonies and the social events, I have to say the most meaningful part of the experience was the people I met and the connections I was able to make with everyone: fellow award recipients, interior designers from across Canada, the IDC and provincial association council members and the gracious product representatives that helped host the event. It was an amazing opportunity to discuss industry issues, learn about the endeavours of others, and tap into inspiring speakers, excellent workshops and innovative products.

6. Where do you see yourself five years down the road? Ten years?

In the next five years, I expect to be NCIDQ certified and to continue using every opportunity that is available to learn, to grow and to be challenged in my practice. I hope to become more involved in public space design – to work collaboratively with a variety of design professionals and expand the conventional boundaries of our work. I will look for opportunities to contribute to the dynamics of the city - to apply the more qualitative aspects of interior design work to urban design issues of sustainable mobility, the creation of placemaking and the quality of life in our Canadian cities. I would also welcome the chance to contribute to a literary publication that has a focus on architecture and design. If I'm lucky enough, I will spend the next ten years working to establish a fulfilling and meaningful career as a professional designer in an industry that I love.

7. How do you define sustainable design, and what significance does it hold for your generation?

Sustainability is a design methodology that observes the principles of ecological, social and economic sustainability. From an environmental perspective, it considers the use of renewable resources, low-impact durable materials, energy efficiency and even biomimicry. From a social perspective, it recognizes human rights and equality, community development, livability and placemaking. From an economic perspective, it values fair trade, financial responsibility and financial equality. Once a lofty goal, sustainability now serves as the underlying measure for the success of a design. We are at a turning point in our biological history and as designers we have a responsibility to uphold sustainable values in what we create. Generating closed loop systems that protect ecosystems, respect the individual, and sustain economies will ensure not only the health and welfare of our planet, but ourselves and future generations to come.

8. How do you feel your winning design solution expresses the values of your generation?

I think that all the design solutions reveal a real value for user-centered, participatory design that not only meets the functional needs of users but also that actively engages people in the creation and use of space. I felt that my design solution needed to privilege the female users by providing spaces of transition and choice. Such spaces are achieved through the design of flexible, porous boundaries that both separate and connect functions, ideas and users. These transitional spaces are known as threshold spaces. They allow people to negotiate their surroundings and relationships; to connect, interact and explore. The emergence of threshold spaces can provide these women with increments of exposure to literacy opportunities depending on their level of comfort and the degree of available choice.

Founded in 1972, Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) is the national advocacy association for the interior design profession. As the national advocacy body, IDC represents more than 4,000 members including fully qualified interior designers, Intern members (who have yet to pass their exams), students, educators and retired members. In addition, we have as members over 250 manufacturers and suppliers who provide products and services for interior design projects and firms.