Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 - A Year in Review at KSA Interiors

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
- Winston Churchill

At KSA we have lived by these principles for the last twenty nine years. As we aproach our thirtieth year of business we hope to reflect on the last year and the many ways we have been influenced by our community.

Leadership –

Defending the right to practice.
As 2011 has come to a close, the interior design industry in Virginia has been roiled by the proposal by Governor Robert F. McDonnell to deregulate “Certified Interior Designers”. KSA is a firm supporter of the interior designer’s right to practice and has taken the lead in the effort to educate the Virginia legislature on the importance of Certification in Virginia. Working with the Council for Certified Virginia Interior Designers (CCVID), as well as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), KSA has actively promoted the benefits to Certification in Virginia while dispelling common myths and stereotypes.

Deregulation creates barriers to business by selectively eliminating competition between design disciplines and establishes potential barriers to state and federal projects, as well as the permitting process. Interior designers face additional restrictions and discrimination in regards to scope of work, board membership within professional corporations, and interstate commerce.
Most importantly however, deregulation removes protections for the public. Interior designers play a key role in protecting the health, welfare, and safety of the inhabitants of interior space. Interior designers are the sole professional body focused on the relationship between human beings and interior spaces. People spend in excess of 90% of our time inside buildings. Interior designers are the ones charged with space planning, materials selection, and furniture, fixtures and equipment selection for commercial buildings. These choices directly impact people's abilities to function effectively, and to remain safe in the case of emergency. Wuite simply, interior designers have the greatest impact on the safety of building occupants in regards to interior content.
2012 will prove to be a very important year for KSA and the interior design industry as a whole. If you are interested in learning more about this issue, or are interested in how you can help, please contact KSA or your state representatives.
You can learn more about the facts of Interior Design regulation by following this link:

Qualified Professionals
A number of KSA team members expanded upon their qualifications in 2011. Heather Croy and Erin Riggan passed the NCIDQ exam and joined Ruth Deibler in becoming CID's (Certified Interior Designers) in Virginia. KSA is proud of Erin, Heather, Ruth, and our many other Certified professionals.

Reinventing the design process – and how we serve our clients.
KSA spent much of 2011 reinventing how we deliver inspired design solutions to our clients. The first half of the year was devoted to building on the previous year’s corporate retreat where we investigated ways to place service to our clients at the core of our business. The end result was a mindset we like to refer to as “Best in the World”. Built around five keys to service, “Best in the World” is rooted in one primary insight – what is best for each of our clients is an entirely relative thing. Learn more about “Best in the World” by reading our e-book here:

Best in the World

The second half of 2012 was devoted to ways that we could improve our design process based on the lessons we have learned in developing the “Best in the World” mindset as well as in learning from the best practices of the design industry. The result was the KSA Way – a design methodology developed through the investigation of processes developed by KSA as well as design leaders such as IDEO, Apple, HOK, and others. Combining aspects of Design Psychology, Evidence Based Design and Design Thinking, KSA created a design methodology tailored to its needs and the practices of its clients. Learn more about the KSA Way design process by viewing a short presentation here:

The KSA Way

Wellness –

For the last several years KSA team members have had the great fortune of receiving yoga lessons taught by Sonja Stoeckli. Each Thursday afternoon Sonja visits KSA’s Richmond office to host classes for our team members. What began as an opportunity to release stress and promote fitness has become a movement within KSA. Our wellness initiative has expanded and grown to include not only yoga, but also a company-wide weekly wellness dialogue and the encouragement for a number of KSA staff members to become pre-dawn running partners, join their local gym, or even sign up for the 140.6 mile Ironman Triathlon.

Beyond KSA’s desire to promote wellness within our firm we were thrilled when Richmond was awarded the 2015 World Road Cycling Championships, and with the recent plans by the city to make cycling an integral part of our city’s framework. Cycling, like running, swimming, and many other wellness activities around the city not only promote individual wellness but they also engage and bond the community.

KSA looks forward to 2012 as we are excited by the opportunities that lie before us and our city in regards to promoting wellness across our hometown. If you are interested in how wellness can improve our local community, we recommend you visit our friends at Richmond Cycling Corps. A non-profit organization that provides leadership and personal development to Richmond’s urban youth through the sport of cycling.

Community –

Real World Design Week.
Over the course of two days in November, KSA played host to over a dozen aspiring interior designers currently enrolled at universities and colleges across the state. RealWorld DesignWeek represented an opportunity to share our passion for the design industry with the next generation of up and coming professionals. Students shadowed our design staff, attended CEU presentations, met with the firms leadership, business development and marketing staff, and asked lots and lots of questions. At KSA we have the highest level of respect for interior design education and are passionate about sharing our knowledge and insight with young designers.

Engaging Peers, Clients, and Friends.
KSA has continued its commitment to the design community by sponsoring events, hosting CEU’s and taking a leadership role in organizations such as ASID. KSA’s Mary Katherine Crouch joins a long line of KSA team members who have either served on the board of the Virginia Chapter of ASID, or who like Mary Katherine, have taken the helm as Chapter President.

White Elephants and Habitat for Humanity.
KSA’s design staff donated hundreds of hours of volunteer work to the Virginia Chapter ASID White Elephant Sale, raising over $30,000 for Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity. Over 300 people attended the event which featured modern furnishings, art, jewelry and other fine items. The newly renovated Hippodrome Theater played host to the event and set an appropriate tone for all those who support the mission of Habitat and the revitalization of Richmond communities.

Photo Credit: Chris Anderson Photography

Photo Credit: Chris Anderson Photography

Giving –

Ft. Lee Holiday Helper.
For the last several years KSA has participated in the Ft. Lee Holiday Helper program, a wonderful way to thank and give back to our troops. The soldiers are able to browse and select gifts for their children from a wide variety of donations from the community: plush toys, electronics, jewelry, games, clothing, books, and a wide variety of other items. "Elf" volunteers help the soldiers navigate through the gifts and answer any questions they may have about items. Volunteers can also offer their services as a holiday "wrapper". All the gifts may be gift-wrapped and tagged, so they can go directly under the tree! It is a very fulfilling way to serve those who serve us.

Toys for Tots.
In keeping with tradition KSA combines its annual corporate holiday party with a drive to collect toys for the Marine Toys for Tots program. Selecting gifts to represent our team members is a fun way to say thanks and share interesting personal stories. Even better it provides us a great opportunity to donate to a great cause. If you are interested in getting your team more involved with the marine Toys for Tots Foundation, visit the website today!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Leave Virginia's Protection for Competition, Business, and the Public in Place. Fight Interior Design Deregulation

Governor Robert F. McDonnell has proposed the deregulation of interior design as part of his Reorganization Plan which is geared toward creating a more efficient, responsive, and cost effective state government. (see pg. 18)

This action will have a negative impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the public, reduce free market competition between architecture and interior design firms, and create barriers to business.

The following is a list of actions you can take, and resources you can utilize to assist in the effort to fight Interior Design decertification in Virginia.

1. See the list of talking points below to learn the facts of ID decertification in VA.

2. Write a clear and brief letter to your state and local legislators.

3. Utilize social media to spread the message. Twitter users can use the hashtag #VACID

Find your legislators:

Talking points & facts.

1. Interior design decertification does NOT save the state money. The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) which regulates architects, engineers and interior designers is self-funded by dues and fees.

2. Interior design decertification harms the public. Interior designers have a significant positive impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and may have the greatest impact on fire and life safety in terms of interior content within buildings.

3. Interior design decertification harms the public by removing enforcement of standards of professional conduct for interior designers, and by eliminating recourse for the public to file potential complaints. No other private or government entity provides this assurance to the public.

4. Interior design decertification creates barriers to business as it will impact the voting rights of interior designers who serve on the boards of professional corporations. This is a common business structure for many architecture firms which employ interior designers.


5. Interior design decertification creates barriers to business as it will eliminate the ability of Certified Interior Designers to stamp and seal drawings.

6. Interior design decertification creates barriers to business by eliminating opportunities for reciprocity with other states which require regulation.
For example, within the District of Columbia where many Virginia CID’s practice. (See section 3204)

7. Interior design decertification creates barriers to business by placing greater burden upon local jurisdictions in regards to permitting for interior design projects. Additionally decertification increases ambiguity regarding the submission of drawings for permit within the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code and Related Laws Package. (see pg. 10-15 & Section 108.4) (See pg. 61-67) (see sections 54.1-100 thru 54.1-415)

8. Interior design decertification creates barriers to business by creating ambiguity and reducing the interior designers scope of work. Interior designers will have to subcontract with architects leading to increased costs for projects. (See pg. 61-67)

9. Interior design decertification creates barriers to business by conflicting with state requirements such as those by DGS requiring the hire of “Certified Interior Designers”. (Sections 202.2, 602.2, 803.10.3, 1017.2)

10. Interior design CERTIFICATION does NOT create barriers to business. Certification in Virginia is regulated under a “Title Act” which protects the use of the term “Certified Interior Designer”. An interior designer does not have to become “Certified” in order to practice in Virginia.

11. Virginia is home to four public universities with Accredited Interior Design programs.
Three of these schools have been identified as being within the TOP TEN programs in the nation.

Virginia Tech (8th-2012, 6th-2011, 9th -2009)
Virginia Commonwealth University (10th-2012, Tied for 10th 2011)
Radford University (Tied for 10th-2011)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Project Spotlight: Lincoln Park II

Project Spotlight: Lincoln Park II

KSA Interiors worked expeditiously with Dominion Virginia Power to develop new standards for flexible open-office environments, conference areas, and collaborative teaming spaces that would meet Dominion’s evolving needs. The goal was to consolidate Dominion teams that were currently spread out over the region to a single location to enhance productivity and collaboration and to streamline overhead costs. The initiative was popular with Dominion’s employees, as these related groups had never before been co-located.

The design team was initially tasked with researching and evaluating several potential locations in Northern Virginia. After assessing several building test fits, it was determined that Lincoln Park II was the best fit for the new, modern office space. KSA coordinated the logistics and implementation strategies, including the coordination of project phasing as it related to the construction schedule and the client’s target deadlines. The project team also took into consideration branding and marketing strategies and employed benchmarking techniques to ensure that project goals and special design criteria such as sustainability, security, flexibility, and accessibility were met.

To facilitate these goals, KSA Interiors provided a number of professional services including interior design and space planning, as well as move management, planning and execution. The project was extremely fast paced, with only 9 months from inception to completion. Acting as the lead design firm on the project, KSA directed programming efforts, provided coordination of all disciplines, lead the selection and coordination of all FF&E (Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment), and was responsible for the development of comprehensive construction documents and specifications. KSA also coordinated the construction administration.

Through the course of the design-build process, the project grew in its complexity. The new space required a variety of specialty and custom solutions for data and communications infrastructure as well as comprehensive and exact coordination of various vendors and disciplines. Partnering with a talented and diverse team of architects, engineers, interior designers and brand consultants allowed these complexities to be handled with expert attention and seamless integration. The general contractor was also instrumental in ensuring that the stringent quality control measures, instituted by the design team and the client, were met. The entire design team collaborated to expedite and phase the project resulting in a 10% time savings for Dominion Virginia Power.

The client desired a fresh atmosphere and an engaging design aesthetic within the highly technical space. To promote a professional and lively environment, the design team worked with a combination of earth tones balanced with bright accents. A sophisticated, warm palette of soft neutrals complimented by rusts and greens were carefully paired with transitional furnishings. Following LEED principle, KSA aligned the design of the space with the client’s commitment to sustainability. Fixtures and furnishings were thoughtfully selected with particular attention paid to sustainable elements such as low-emitting materials and adhesives, recycled materials and sustainable resources, as well as employing daylighting practices and energy efficient lighting solutions. Furniture had to be specified that would accommodate the 24/7 operation of the environment. To ensure the best solution, KSA hosted a design charette which engaged the design team and management team in a collaborative deep dive. The final solution resulted in the development of adjustable “cockpit” style pods, each with their own function and operations focus.

 Cameron Stiles, CID, FASID, LEED AP commented that "the new office space is light filled, bright and fresh creating a wonderful work environment for all the associates."

KSA Interiors was recently awarded an Honorable Mention at the Virginia Chapter ASID/Virginia & West Virginia IIDA Chapters 2011 Interior Design Excellence Awards, for Corporate Interiors Over 35,000 SF. The judges commented on successfully meeting the client’s objectives and the use of space planning to achieve the functional goals of the project.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

KSA on Creative Outlets

I used to really hate labels. They can be confusing when the neat description of what is inside is a poor match for the actual contents. Being referred to as an “Interior Designer” perhaps is the most efficient way to convey what I do professionally to the average person but I find it so misleading sometimes.

I suppose while trying to label myself, or to fit my creativity into an appropriate category, I have always felt very non-committal to the club. There always seemed to be too many assumptions made or formulas to follow. My art foundation professor would get frustrated with me because she said I made everything look too pretty and commercial. I was not avant garde enough. Similarly, when I finally chose a major my mother commented, “So you want to be an interior designer? Didn’t your room in high school have a plastic fountain, holiday lights and tacky plastic beaded curtains throughout?”

With no single label to contain my creative passions, I assumed many. Here is a short list of the many creative labels assigned to me over my lifetime:






Sara Doodles (this was a nickname given to me in high school)

Fine Arts Major

Interior Design Student


Digital Artist


Game Artist

Dungeon Master (This may be too much dork for most to handle!)

Space Planner

Campus Planner

Move Coordinator

Interior Designer

Environmental Graphic Designer

Graphics Chair

Project Manager

Senior Designer


Plush Designer

I suppose to look at all of those titles one would think that either I am a renaissance woman (I have been known to sew up some garb and attend renaissance fairs!) or that I have creative ADD. But actually I have finally realized that I just needed to have a variety of creative outlets. These are simply the many roles I have assumed & labels I have adorned in an effort to help a restless mind focus.

Many may ask, “Don’t you already have a creative career into which you can push all of your creative energy?” Well yes, of course, but not all of my creative passions can be fulfilled by a singular outlet.

Thankfully, I am not alone in this urge for multiple creative outlets. Many of my colleagues share this need as well. I have seen amazing handmade jewelry, read inspirational blogs, listened to original musical compositions and recordings and much more. Having many creative passions and not neatly fitting within someone else’s prescribed limitations is a good thing. I am proud to wear many labels. They allow me to give birth to a world of fresh ideas and creations. Each new idea made better and stronger by the many divergent inspirations that came before it.
So the question is how many labels do you wear?

Sara Lasseter, CID, SEGD, ASID, LEED AP

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

KSA on Inspiration:

For our business cards here at KSA, we are asked to come up with three “likes”, or things that inspire us. Trying to narrow down my interests was not an easy task. I finally decided on sketchbooks, collecting, and DIY projects.

I feel it is very important for anyone, not only artists, to carry around a sketchbook. I use mine not only to draw but to jot down ideas, take notes, and write to-do lists. As you know, solutions to problems do not always come to you while sitting at your desk. Instead, they come while you’re at the grocery store, sitting in a waiting room, or having dinner at a restaurant. Keeping a sketchbook within arm’s reach can help capture these ideas and thoughts when they occur.

Collecting. I can blame my mom for this one. She has collections of tea pots, buttons, shells, and other knick knacks sprinkled throughout her house. Now that I have inherited this fascination with finding items to add to a collection, I have realized I think the challenge of how to display them is even more exciting. I once worked with my dad to design a wooden display to showcase my glass swizzle sticks. (I have no idea how or why I accumulated a swizzle stick collection) but the test tube-like holder is so unique and beautiful it makes a great conversation starter.

Along with sketchbooks and collections, I love DIY projects. I am constantly looking for potential in my surroundings. Whether it is interiors, a forgotten piece of furniture, or a garage sale find, I can’t help but think about how I can use it for an art project. Since moving to Richmond, I have walked by tons of abandoned furniture on the sidewalks. Most of the time there is a reason the person left it but you can occasionally come across a real gem. For example, I recently found an ugly, maroon hutch that I just knew had potential and could not pass it up. With cleaning and a few coats of paint it looks brand new! There is typically a lot of trial and error with these projects but I find this is a good thing. I learn about new materials and techniques and try to improve with each venture.

Whether it’s drawing in my sketchbook, collecting, or do-it-yourself projects, my three “likes” help express what makes me, me. This creativity that I surround myself with in the evenings and weekends carries over into my work here at KSA. Surrounding yourself with things that inspire or make you happy in your everyday life is essential to having a positive and productive workplace.

Gillian Bowman

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

KSA on change:

 I am an Army Brat.  By the time I started high school at 14, I had already attended 6 schools, lived in 9 towns and settled into 13 houses.  I’m also an ISTJ personality type that doesn’t like change according to Myers-Briggs.  You can imagine how that could be a challenge.  Thankfully, my years as an Army kid taught me how to roll with it and come out stronger on the other side. This is my tried and true strategy.

Accept the new reality.  For many, the gut reaction to change is fight or flight – either resisting with everything they have or running away from the situation and pretending it isn’t going to happen.  News Flash – change is inevitable.  Whether a new gray hair pops up on your head or new technology renders your current skills obsolete – change happens every single day.    The sooner you can accept that, the easier it is to move forward.  

Embrace it!  Now it’s time to figure out how you want to live and who you want to be in this new world of yours.  This is an opportunity to shake things up!  A health issue could be the motivation to take better care of yourself; a rough economy might prompt you to streamline your business or learn new skills to make yourself more marketable.  Formalizing key goals will help to propel you forward.

Make a plan.  As Winston Churchill said, "He who fails to plan is planning to fail."   I’m a planner by nature so I do this as a matter of course in everything - projects, shopping, flossing, whatever – I’m a firm believer.  But, if the idea of mapping out goals and actions overwhelms you, take heart – there are plenty of resources online and in your local bookstore to help enhance your planning skills.  A little investment in time figuring out what methods resonate best with you will reap many future successes.

Execute the plan.  You can develop the greatest plan in the world but it’s not doing you any good unless you take action and follow it.  Otherwise you’re not only spinning your wheels but also (if you’re like me) worrying about it.  So do yourself a favor and work your plan!  You should also be prepared to modify your plan down the line because, as we know, change is inevitable.

Following these steps has helped me through countless transitions, big and small, and has made me more resilient and willing to take chances.  It has given me the confidence to know that I can persevere no matter what happens that is outside of my control. 

Change is on its way.  Are you ready for it?  We’d love to hear what works for you!

Heather Sullivan Croy, CID, ASID, LEED AP