Leigh Gunn has been the senior interior designer and project manager for Looney Ricks Kiss Architects for a year. The firm is on Bay Street in the Bay Street Town Center area.
WHAT DOES SHE DO?
“I like to say I listen. As an interior designer, I work very closely with the architects and with the end user. The important thing about interior design is to understand the client including what their business is, what they do and what they are trying to accomplish in the space. First and foremost, you have to understand what people are doing and from there, whether it is space planning, programming, finishes or furniture selection, there is a whole gamut of things that are available. So I just tailor it to the client and what it is they need.” The company focuses on corporate, multi-family, mixed-use and single family projects.
HOW DID SHE GET INTO INTERIOR DESIGN?
“When I was very young and we would travel, I was always sketching on note pads and drawing floor plans of different things in our home or places that I’d been.” During all of that travel, Gunn learned to appreciate architecture, but didn’t want to pursue it as a career. “I didn’t want to go specifically into architecture and interior design was closely related.”
HOW DID SHE GET THE JOB AT LOONEY RICKS KISS?
Gunn heard about the job from friends of hers at the firm as well as from a friend who worked for a client of Looney Ricks Kiss.
“They told me that Looney Ricks Kiss had just opened up in town and it sounded like a good opportunity for me since the company had such a good reputation. To be able to start the interiors program here was a good leap for me.” Currently, Gunn is the only interior designer in the Jacksonville office, but she thinks by the end of the summer, the firm will add to the staff.
Looney Ricks Kiss is at 315 E. Bay Street. When Gunn helped design the interiors for the space she focused on preserving the loft ceilings and creating open floor plans and several collaboration spaces for new designs to be born.
HER HISTORY BEFORE LOONEY RICKS KISS
Gunn has a bachelor’s degree in interior environments from Auburn University. After college she went to work for Cox, Kliewer & Co in Virginia Beach for five years. She moved to Jacksonville and went to work for Gresham, Smith & Partners for six years.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
“I like that every project is different and tailored to what the client wants. It can’t always be what I like. It really has to respond to the client’s business and their personal taste. I like being able to bend with every project and make it different. I go through a lot of magazines and find things that I think are interesting for the project that I am working on. I keep an idea book that has things that I think are interesting and then I try and take those things and put a different twist on them.”
Gunn said spa blues and other soothing colors are popular right now.
ADVICE FOR NEW INTERIOR DESIGNERS
Gunn says to do your research and find a company that understands the connection between architecture and interior design because it is such a better experience for you and the client when everybody is on the same page. “It just makes for better projects.”
HER HOME’S STYLE
Gunn said her home is very eclectic. “We have leather furniture and lots of plants. I have a couple of classical furniture pieces mixed with some traditional pieces.”
“I think that being trustworthy is the most important thing because you have to build a relationship. This business is very much based on opinion and personal preference and you have to build a level of trust with the client. There is a reason they hired you to do this. You understand how people interact and how spaces work together and there is a reason behind what we do.”
BEST PROFESSIONAL ADVICE EVER RECEIVED?
“Don’t pretend you know something if you don’t. It’s ok to say ‘I need to check into that and get back to you.’”
Gunn belongs to Commercial Real Estate Women of Jacksonville, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and International Interior Design Association.
Hometown: Bayminette, Ala. She moved to Jacksonville in 2000.
Resides: The St. Nicholas area just south of San Marco.
Marital status: Married to Larry, a mechanical engineer, for a little over a year.
Hobbies: Remodeling their house, camping and going to the beach.
Last Book: “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards.
Recommended movie: “Little Miss Sunshine.”
— by Michele Newbern Gillis