Q&A with Diane Barringer

Date: 10/01/2015

Q: How long have you been practicing interior design?

A: I’ve been a practicing interior designer since 1998, and I’ve been with Helix since 2000.

Q: Helix has a very diverse portfolio. Describe the range of project types in both market segment and scale. How do you and your team adapt to the differences?
In simplest terms it’s easier to say what we don’t do, and that would be schools and residential. Everything else is up for grabs! We’ve worked on small 800sf tenant improvements to over 300,000sf of a multi-facility complex at Joint Base Lewis-McChord which included the Brigade Headquarters, Tactical Maintenance Facilities and a Dining Facility. Our project timelines can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years. Managing multiple types and sizes of projects creates a fun and interesting work day.

The way our team adapts to the differences can be challenging, we all have strengths in different fields and we share those strengths in a collaborative setting that benefits the project and the Client.

Q: What do you consider to be the most interesting current developments in interior design, and why?
One interesting new development is the diversity in materials we have to work with. We can now print images on any kind of material. It opens up the field to all sorts of new possibilities!

Another interesting current development is reclaimed materials and how we can incorporate them into spaces. We can utilize old materials to find new, creative uses for them such as using flooring as wall panels, and mixing metals and woods in unexpected combinations. Another development includes taking existing buildings, opening them up in their raw form, and exposing columns and ceiling/floor structures above the space.

Q: What are some of your outside inspirations, and how do they influence your work?
I like to first take a look at things that have not been done before. I then look for new ways to use materials that are typically used for one purpose and then find a new, creative way to use them.

I am also inspired by how people use space. The workforce is changing and more people are starting to work from home. As long as you have a chair and some kind of platform, you can work anywhere. I am interested in seeing how people can transform small spaces into work areas.

Q: What is your favorite project and why?
I have really enjoyed all the projects I have worked on, but I would have to say one of my favorites was the Tahoma Market in Fife. The Client really allowed us to be creative on this project and we were able to use different materials and color combinations. This project was from the ground up and we were able to work on all the little details from the interior finishes, to the actual product displays, including seasonal displays for the liquor section. We highlighted specific products by staging them with shipping crates and wine barrels, and included entertainment ideas for customers. We usually don’t get to take it to that level of detail so it was a lot of fun!

I also really enjoy working on all of the medical office projects. We have worked on everything from a plastic surgery office to women’s clinics, to entire medical office buildings. Medical spaces need to take on the responsibility for providing a comfortable setting for patients. It is not always a pleasant time for a patient; our goal is to provide a comfortable and inviting space for patients as well as the medical staff.

Q: What do you take into consideration when choosing materials?
Budget seems to be the first and underlying criterion in all of my projects. The second is how the materials are going to be used. Then I start to look at the design application of the materials: color, texture and style. Sometimes Clients want the latest material trends, but you have to step back and say: Is it in their budget? Does it fit with the overall design? Will it last, and will it be cost effective for the life of the building?

I definitely want to incorporate a high level of design, and we can achieve that in a multitude of ways. If budget is a factor, then the higher priced materials are used sparingly. If high traffic is a factor, we try to understand which materials work best and get creative to come up with an interesting design vs. having it look utilitarian. To answer your question, I guess you can say I take practicality as the prime consideration when choosing materials.

Diane graduated from Cornish College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design. She has extensive experience in both interior design of spaces and in the procurement of furniture, fixtures and equipment, including artwork, on a wide variety of projects.