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Elissa Gee (MS 16 Environmental Design)

profiles / alumni / environmental-design
October 20, 2017
By Jamie Wetherbe

BLUEPRINT FOR INNER BEAUTY: MEET ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGNER ELISSA GEE

ArtCenter: What are you working on right now?

Elissa Gee (MS 16 Environmental Design), Designer, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP: I'm helping with an office tower for San Francisco, a university building and an office lobby renovation. The teams I'm on are interdisciplinary: architecture, interiors, structural and graphics. I'm learning so much as a junior designer.

AC: What’s the design cliché you’re most tempted to use?

EG: Less is more.

AC: What’s the one tool you can’t do without?

EG: Trace paper — all different sizes of rolls — and a highlighter to go through all the redlines in a drawing set.

AC: How do you define success?

EG: Pursuing your passion and accomplishing goals beyond your expectations, even if doesn't necessarily follow the plans you've set out.

AC: If you could design any space, what would it be?

EG: One of my favorite studio projects at ArtCenter was my thesis to design the new public library. I'd love to see that happen someday.

It’s a collaborative effort and every person on the team is important, so listen to them and learn as much as you can.

Elissa Gee (MS 16 Environmental Design)

AC: Who inspired you to go to ArtCenter?

EG: My dad — he graduated from ArtCenter in 1973 in Product Design. I found his graduation portraits in the archives at South Campus.

AC: Describe a moment in your childhood where you first identified as a designer.

EG: When I was 6 or 7, my dad was drawing in his studio, and he set me up next to him with trace paper. I tried designing chairs and my dream house — it had a drawbridge. Fast forward to freshman year in high school, and I took an architecture class. I knew I wanted to be in spatial design after I built my first model.

AC: What’s the first site you look at when you open your computer in the morning?

EG: Gmail and SF Funcheap. I have to know what's going on in the city.

AC: What do you do to detox from media and screens?

EG: I really enjoying cooking, dance classes, anything that makes me move.

AC: What book is on your bedside table?

EG: Eating on the Wild Side (I'm trying to take more of an active role in what I'm eating), The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the latest edition of Interior Design magazine.

AC: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

EG: The ability to be fluent in any language.

AC: Where is your happy place?

EG: Cafe by the beach in Hawaii, with plenty of space for people watching and water coloring.

Elissa Gee (MS 16 Environmental Design)

Alumni Q&A

Submit the Alumni Q&A questionnaire to share your story. We want to hear about your accomplishments, what you're working on and your advice for future ArtCenter students.

AC: How would your closest friend describe you?

EG: Probably protective, diligent and a mull over-er. I tend to over analyze situations.

AC: What’s your best piece of advice for an ArtCenter student who’s interested in following your career path?

EG: Always remember your goals and what role you want to pursue in your career. I realized that there are many different paths you can take in design, each of them important in achieving a successful project. It's a collaborative effort between designers, technical designers, management, contractors and other disciplines —and every person on the team is important, so listen to them and learn as much as you can. One of the most rewarding classes I took at ArtCenter was a TDS. Because I work at a large firm, the TDS helped to prepare me to work with others in different disciplines.