IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 41

Jeannette D. Lenear
IIDA, LEED AP
Senior Vice President,
VoA Associates Inc.
As Director of
Interiors for VoA's
Workplace Interiors
Studio, Jeannette is
responsible for the
overall leadership of
the team in the Chicago
headquarters. She
oversees initiatives
related to design,
operations, client
development and
strategic growth.
Jeannette has
established herself to
be a highly motivated
and entrepreneurial
leader who has
demonstrated the
ability to lead diverse
teams of clients and
professionals to new
levels of success.

Within the practice, designers are taking on more
roles than ever before: project manager, marketer,
technology and sustainability expert, even
futurist. Is versatility more important now than it
was in previous decades?
I think so. I started as a landscape architect, then
became a designer of exterior architecture, then
interiors, and then finally, because I began to
connect very well with clients and start to
understand what they were looking for in their
projects, got into management. I think
everything revolves around the ability to see a
project from the client's perspective, and that's
not something everyone is able to do.
And you have to do it in a way that encompasses all
those other things: inside, outside, landscape, etc.
That's right. The first thing I do when I look at an
interior space is look at the context: the views, the
angles of the building, the sun. I learned all that
in landscape architecture, because it was all
about the site and the orientation of the
architecture on that site. And of course the
exterior is extremely critical, but you spend the
majority of your time inside the space. When you
come into your office, you're here eight hours a
day. So you have to have a holistic view of a
project, including inside and outside, and then
you have to be able to communicate that to a
client. Sometimes I'll sit down with a design team
and they'll have an idea, but they don't step back
for a moment in a way that lets them look at the
project as a whole.
So it's a question of not focusing on one piece of a
project so much that you can't see the forest
through the trees.
Exactly. As director of our workplace team, hiring
talent and trying to build the team, I see a lot of
young designers coming out of school and doing
everything electronic. They're designing in all
the different software programs, and they're
amazing at it, but for us at VOA, it has to be more
than that. You have to take advantage of
technology, but a lot of what we're looking for is
the ability to sit down and brainstorm ideas, not
just focus on just one idea.

Do you get your hands into all the different aspects
of a project-interior, exterior, landscaping, client
interface?
Typically yes. Even if I'm just working on the
interior of a project, everything we do there is a
reflection of the outside of the project, including
the exterior architecture, the site, the views, etc.
Right now we're working on Google's new
headquarters in Chicago's West Loop. It's a large
project, up to 350,000 square feet now and a
private rooftop terrace. It's in an existing
building, an old cold-storage facility that they
completely ripped the skin off of, and now they're
recladding it. On the rooftop deck we're making
sure the outside comes in. We're looking at ways
of bringing nature in, bringing daylight in, and
so on. Google is on the cutting edge of biophilia,
trying to incorporate biomimicry into their space,
both in terms of the architecture and actually
bringing plant material in, living green
machines, things of that nature. So there's always
a little touchback onto my landscape architecture
training. But for me, design is all-encompassing.
Design is design. You get inspiration from nature,
you get inspiration from art. Some of the best
young interior designers I've hired studied art,
and ended up getting a design degree later on.
You've also been pursuing an MBA.
I graduate this weekend, from Notre Dame.
Your brain must be struggling to hold it all in-
which also speaks to the way the business has
changed over the past couple of decades. You have
to know a lot more now.
I think you do. Getting an MBA has been exciting,
especially as it relates to the bigger picture of
what our clients are dealing with every day. I can
connect to them in a different way now; in
accounting, the discussion of asset depreciation
relates to a lot of our clients, and also to our own
industry in terms of furniture, for example. There
are a lot of little things that cross over in different
ways. You have to be able to design, to connect
with clients, all that, but you also need to
understand that this is a business. We do interior
design because we love it, but we're also
responsible for making sure that this is a
profitable business.

perspective

41



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014

Contents
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover1
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 1
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 2
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Contents
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 4
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 5
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 6
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 7
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 8
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 9
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 10
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 11
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 12
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 13
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 14
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 15
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 16
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 16A
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 16B
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 17
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 18
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 19
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 20
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 21
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 22
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - 23
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IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover3
IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2014 - Cover4
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