Design Stars Ascending: Chelsey Beardsley

We interview Chelsey Beardsley, an up-and-coming designer honored by the Colorado chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers as a Rising Star.

Gold Standard: Chelsey is relaxing on the Russell angled sofa adjacent to the Cesar side table, both by Minotti. At left is the Trípode floor lamp by Santa & Cole. Photograph by Paul Miller.

Tell us about you and your interest in design:

“I am a lifelong Alaskan obtaining my interior architecture and design degree at Colorado State University—entering my junior year as an adult learner (I’m 28) in the fall. I am also double minoring in both construction management and design thinking. During gaps in my education, I worked at a firm that specializes in commercial and landscape architecture and interior design in Anchorage. I was there for four years and was exposed to and assisted lead designers on all project types, delivery methods, and sectors of design, including military, healthcare, multifamily housing, retail, and civil all over the state. Overall, I am a weird, nontypical student with a ton of professional experience trying to get my degree.”

Tell us about your winning project:

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“In my opinion, the ASID Rising Star Award gives companies an opportunity to see what students and entry-level professionals are doing and the skills with which they are entering the work force. I entered my Srisaneha shelter project. Our original prompt was to design a home in a coastal region in a predesigned shell that could withstand the ever-increasing danger of global warming and other environmental threats. I decided on a three-story, octagon-shaped shell for a family of four. The clients were my actual sister, brother-in-law, and nephews, so that made the project even more fun and engaging. Challenges included finding creative ways of utilizing the interesting shape of the octagon shell, and integrating the Alaskan/Thai aesthetic of the family into their new home.”

Why design?

“I am not someone who can sit at a desk and do the same thing each day. I like solving problems and helping people. When I heard about interior design, I did some research, and fell in love. My high school had a gifted mentorship program, and I was able to shadow interior designers at the age of 16–17 and got a firsthand idea of what the work was like. I haven’t looked back. Everything I have done and the work I do each day is all geared toward becoming a professional designer, specifically commercial design. I enjoy the daily challenges, the need to be flexible and open-minded, the endless amount of creativity and design thinking involved, having to have empathy for other humans, to work with robust and complicated teams and deadlines, and so much more.”

Describe your approach to the work:

“I like getting all my facts from the start—interviewing the client and understanding the design parameters before digging into any of the pretty finish selections or final floor plans. I like having a clear and solid method to my process and following that process all the way through to the end. After interviewing, I usually do loose/messy sketches of some of the main ideas and themes, maybe some preliminary colors or inspiration images. I try not to get tied up into one single idea, photo, or topic. Design is so fluid, and I believe the best design comes with flexibility and the ability to go with the flow of how the design process naturally evolves and changes. Being married to a single goal or outcome can quickly become devastating if everything is too limited. Usually something happens in the middle of my design work where everything comes together and ‘clicks’ somehow—all the images, colors, and concepts come together in a way I never originally anticipated or expected, and it is better than anything I could have planned.”

What does the future hold for you?

“I hope to graduate in 2023, get credentialled, and find a position at a firm that focuses on commercial interior design. I also am interested in advocating for women in design and construction and interior designers. The profession of interior design is vastly underappreciated and misunderstood. Very little of what I do revolves around selecting paint colors or fabric swatches. I want to be a catalyst for change in that regard for my profession and the interior designers coming up in the industry behind me. I want to show people how design is a human right and service needed in every public space. More than anything, I want to leave the community I work in better than I found it and bring about change, well-being, and grace to the end users for whom I design.”