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A Conversation With … Cheryl Doran

Director of Interior Design at Sapp Design Associates Architects PC

Posted online

How do you judge good design?
I’m always about the wow factor. Have you ever stepped in a room and felt like, “Oh, this is kind of weird,” and left the lobby or left the room and nothing engaged you, something didn’t feel right? Successful interior design is not just about creating a beautiful space, but creating an experience that leaves a powerful, lasting impression.

What are some of the hot trends in the industry?
I’ve got a designer group that I hang out with and we coined the term “resi-mercial.” You’re seeing the commercial design blend with residential. You’re getting the soft textures; you’re still getting the whites, the grays and the warm tones. It’s a real comfortable feeling with a lot of textures.

What trends have you enjoyed watching over the years?
Everything comes around. You’re seeing the ‘70s come back. You’re seeing the mid-century modern in all the furniture come back. Any design that you’re seeing right now has modern with it. Whether it’s modern rustic, modern renaissance, you’re going to see kind of the clean, simple lines. Last year was all the gray tones – the whites, the marbles – and I think now you’re going to see gold come back in. Not like the shiny brass, they’re more of a dull gold. You are seeing some shimmer, and that brings back that modern feel.

Tell me about your experience at Mercy before joining Sapp.
When the tornado hit Mercy in Joplin, Mercy recruited me to help rebuild that hospital. They have lots of projects. We did a children’s hospital. We’ve done a heart hospital. We always designed around the patient. We look for easy wayfinding, we looked for warmth. They don’t want this sterile atmosphere. They want their space; they don’t want it to be right next to somebody all the time. We just finished the new cafeteria. The existing cafeteria was there for 50 years. So what we’re designing now is going to have to last for another, hopefully, 50 years. That’s why you see durable, cleanable materials.

You started with Sapp in October. Tell me about the new interior design department you’re leading.
Sapp is wanting to build the interior department instead of consulting out. The main benefits for that is teamwork. You can work collaboratively with architects from start to finish. It’s more of a full picture. I’m doing the lighting, the technologies, the space, the furniture, the colors. I like clean and simple. I’m more of the modern approach.

How has your role shifted as you’ve been in this industry for 24 years? 
The industry has shifted. In schools, security is one big one now and the other is flexibility. When you go into an elementary school now that we’re designing, you’re going to see high-top tables, you’re going to see low cushions, you’re going to see floor seating, you’re going to see a desk with a computer. You’re going to see a lot less walls. You’re seeing that in offices, as well. You’re going to see less corner offices, less private offices. Sapp is designing its new office and we’re not going to have any private offices. Your status is shown by the way you lead.

What are some of the projects you’re working on now?
The Boys and Girls Club asked me last week to come over, and they want to turn one of their classrooms into a recording studio. I designed a wall of all old album covers, like Kiss and The Rolling Stones and even Johnny Cash. I did some cool vintage rugs and a stage and a sound booth. School of the Osage has several buildings that we’re working on. We’re doing 36 libraries in Kansas City, wrapping up seven libraries in St. Louis, and The Ridge, First Watch, Goodman Elementary and a new office concept for Associated Electric [Cooperative Inc.]

Cheryl Doran can be reached at doran@sdaarchitects.com

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