Volume 84 | Issue 4
July/August 2016

On the Job – Design

Read the print version of this article.

In this edition of On the Job, design professionals Jonathan “Alby” Albarado, Kenji Enos, and Linda Luoma answer:

  • What is one project or innovation you're proud to have helped implement?
  • What is the biggest lesson you've learned working in the profession?
  • Describe a memorable day on the job.
  • Why do you think form as much as function is relevant to building community on campus?

Jonathan “Alby” AlbaradoJohn Albarado
Coordinator of Creative Service and Design at Texas A&M University–Commerce

  • Project/innovation helped implement: The “Lion Wall” project, an architectural design to go inside of the Rayburn Student Center with incorporated quotes and words students have provided us on what they think it means to be a Lion! It’s such a fantastic project because we, as a staff, have been able to interact with a diverse group of students on campus to find out what they love about being students at Texas A&M University–Commerce and how their experiences have helped them to grow and learn. To hear how these students are so appreciative and thankful for their time here inspires me as a designer to create something representative of their experiences. Projects such as these don’t come along often, so I am thankful to be part of it!
  • Biggest lesson learned: Firstly, it’s okay to fail. For all of the new professionals out there entering this field, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone from time to time and try to do something that feels strange or challenges you in a way that you haven’t been challenged before. I think you will be surprised at what you are able to accomplish.

    Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a young professional I felt that I needed to prove myself, so I volunteered for multiple projects, helped out with events, and joined so many committees that I sometimes forgot which I was on. I was pulled in so many directions that my work started to suffer, and it wasn’t until after being in the field for a few years that I realized it’s okay to ask for help or turn down projects. Remember, you were hired for a specific job so make sure you have enough time and energy to do it to the very best of your ability.
  • Memorable day on the job: One day, a walk around campus took me to the Pride Shop where I talked to some of our student designers and workers to see how everything was going. I only planned on staying around 10 minutes, but the discussion about school, design, traveling, food, family, and everything in between turned into a few hours. Working with the students is one of the great things a career in higher education offers, and to connect with my students on such a personal level was great.
  • Relevance of form in building campus community: As a designer, I am always looking for form to work harmoniously with function. It’s what drives design. When I think of form and function in regard to building a campus community, campus traditions come to mind. If the function of campus traditions is to instill pride in the students, then the form would be the traditions. The different types of traditions can help encourage students to get involved, make them feel safe, or create a sense of unity between staff and students.

Kenji EnosKenji Enos
Graphic Designer II at Sacramento State

  • Project/innovation helped implement: I am most proud of working with our student interns—finding out what they are good at as well as what needs to be strengthened when approaching and solving design problems. I ask them questions about their future after graduation: What type of design work are you interested in? Does the place you want to work at have the right design work for your career? By the time they graduate, I hope I’ve helped them find their way to becoming a designer and to keep improving throughout their lives.
  • Biggest lesson learned: Since the beginning of my profession, there have been a few things that keep my interest in design. One is the fact that there is always something new to learn and multiple ways of solving a single problem. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to never stop learning and improving my skills. There is always someone out there working just as hard, if not harder to get better. With that in mind, I never get bored with my profession in design.
  • Memorable day on the job: While working as a student design intern at the University Union at “Sac State,” I was offered a full-time design position two weeks before I graduated from the design program. I accepted the position, took a week off after graduation, and have been working ever since.
  • Relevance of form in building campus community: Form and function give designers a vehicle to make connections with their audience. From a simple closed sign to a huge design campaign reaching thousands of people, design is our way of connecting and communicating with our campus community.

Linda LuomaLinda Luoma
Interior Designer II at Michigan State University

  • Project/innovation helped implement: The union has been remodeled to include an engagement center where students can come for a variety of help in writing, math, counseling, tutoring, etc. via face-to-face interactions. Each of the five neighborhoods on campus has its own engagement center. The main lounge and women’s lounge were also remodeled. I have never seen so many people use a space as much as the renovated lounges. We recently replaced the light fixtures from a 1980s renovation. Light fixtures were selected that were transitional; they would have been acceptable in the 1929 original union and today’s union. The union is now a hub of the university again.
  • Biggest lesson learned: To listen carefully to what is both said and not said.
  • Memorable day on the job: There are memorable good days and memorable bad days. A good day is walking into a recently renovated space to see it being used and enjoyed.
  • Relevance of form in building campus community: Our engagement centers are a perfect example of form and function. Spaces were designed for both large and small student groups, contain chairs with and without casters, and smaller tables that can be grouped according to the students’ needs. Creating community within the university is important for the students academically and socially, both essential to career development.