Welcome to the ARIDO Member Spotlight! The Member Spotlight will feature a different ARIDO member each month in order to connect members together and feature the diversity and richness amongst the membership. A big thank you to Golnar for agreeing to be the first member featured in this new series.
Meet Board Member and Committee Chair Golnar Raissi-Dehkordi, she is currently an Interior Designer at Mayhew and Chair of both the Communications Committee and Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Advancement Committee.
She was the host of Session 1 of The Power of Colour: Being Black in Design and the January event for Interns Adapting to Change and works primarily in the workplace design sector.
How long have you been a member of ARIDO? I have been an ARIDO member since 2010, so I joined on my first year of Interior Design at Humber as a student member.
We talk a lot about “The Path” at ARIDO, how did you get on the path to the association and develop your interest in Interior Design as a career? I knew I wanted to be an interior designer when I applied to the program at Humber. The path became clearer when someone from ARIDO showed up at one of our town halls and explained the Path to becoming an Interior Designer.
I am sure so many of us didn’t know that we cannot call ourselves Interior designers by just graduating from an Interior design program. I joined ARIDO right at that town hall to become an ARIDO Student. Once I graduated from the program, I had the opportunity to go back to the firm I completed my co-op with, Mayhew, and become an ARIDO Intern.
In 2016 I had completed my supervised hours under the supervision of multiple Registered Interior Designers at Mayhew and felt ready to take the challenge of completing the 3-part NCIDQ examination. I dedicated a year to study and prepare for the exams and finally passed in 2017 and became a Registered Interior Designer. It was such a relief to know that I can now call myself an Interior Designer with my membership status and the required insurance.
How would you describe your local Interior Design community? The interior design community is so big, and small at the same time. Big in the sense that it includes so many different areas of practices within design not limited to retail, residential, commercial, industrial, etc. but also furniture, fixturing, sales, and project management. The industry is also very small or niche because no matter where you might be today, tomorrow you will always cross paths with a former student, mentor, colleague, or vendor.
Design professionals can sometimes specialize in one aspect of the process i.e. accessibility/building code, FF&E etc. Do you have a specialty? I would say workplace design has been taking more of my focus which includes accessibility, building code, FF&E, etc. However, I still consult with my mentors and my colleagues such as Senior Interior Designers, BCIN holders, Furniture application Specialists, Project Managers, etc daily to ensure I can provide the service to the best of my ability, and I am continuously learning.
You are part of the Communications Committee and Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Advancement committee, what made you want to get involved with the Association? Is this your first time on an ARIDO committee? The first time I got involved with a committee was in 2016 when I joined the Intern Committee as an Intern. In 2020, I joined the Communications Committee, and shortly after that when the Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Advancement committee was formed I decided to be part of this venture. I personally believe in the power of service and giving back to our communities so when I heard the call, I decided to join and be an active agent of change. I am grateful to Mayhew for understanding and supporting me with my volunteerism for ARIDO.
Which past project was a career highlight and why? Every project I have worked on in the past has taught me something new, but if I must pick and choose one, it would be a higher education project I completed under the supervision of my Senior Interior Designer. This project allowed me to push far beyond my limits and it really made me feel like I made a leap in understanding the design process from start to finish, especially in relation to the Contract Administration phase of the project, as this is not necessarily taught in school.
What upcoming innovation will dramatically impact the industry in the next five years? I think from the workplace design perspective we’ll be seeing a shift in how people work. Forced by circumstances around COVID, we have adapted to work differently. From this point on we’ll see more innovative products, technology, and behavior guided by leadership and strategies that can bring people choice and options on how they work, where they work, when they work, etc. It is fascinating!
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the association or profession? I can think of a couple of pressing issues; in my opinion, one would be the recognition of our profession. We are taking on way too much liability for not being recognized and regulated by the government.
Secondly, diversity and representation within our community. I am happy that the association is taking steps towards addressing these issues and I hope to see positive change emerging in the next few years.
What advice would you give to students or emerging professionals at the start of their careers? Find joy and passion in what you do, be open-minded when presented with opportunities, participate and speak up; be active and take charge of your career.
Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? Oh, that’s an easy one. I would say our Managing Director of Design, Harpreet Singh. She is my friend, my mentor and anytime I’m stuck on projects I know I can count on her to help me see a way out. Sometimes her advice sounds so simple and easy that I question myself: Why didn’t I think of that?
What trend do you hope makes a comeback? (Design related or otherwise) I hope getting together with people and socializing face to face in groups will come back soon. I really miss that.
A big thank you to Golnar for agreeing to be the first member featured in this new series. The Member Spotlight will feature a different member each month. Know someone who should be featured? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org . See you next month!