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15 Minutes with Warner Design Associates Designer, Kao Vang

Posted on August 7, 2019 by Cynthia Warner

Kao Vang, Interior Design Associate headshot in color

Our team is made up of skilled senior living interior designers, but also individuals that love to explore farmer’s markets, travel to new places, host friendly board game competitions, tackle hiking trails, relax with a good Netflix binge session, and so much more. We love to share the personalities that make up our team, and the stories about their experience in the senior living industry, so that you can get to know them beyond emails and phone meetings. 

 

This month we’re spent 15 minutes interviewing, Kao Vang! Learn a little more about her hobbies, passion for the senior living design industry, and tips for other designers below! 

 

How long have you been working with Warner Design Associates? 

About a year. I previously worked in a healthcare design firm that mainly worked with hospitals and medical office buildings. It’s become clear to me that I really enjoy working with designs that impact the well-being of people. 

There are a lot of misconceptions that hospital/acute care/medical office projects are similar to senior living, can you tell us a few main differences between the design trends and materials for these different industries?

One of the main differences is the “institutionalized” look. For example, hospitals and medical offices buildings tend to gravitate toward vinyls that are highly durable and easy to clean. While these materials might be great to a certain extent in senior living communities, it can be too institutional feeling and does not provide the soft and comforting feel of home.  As senior living designers, being able to bring in those familiar elements of a residential feel but with commercial standards will help with that change. There’s a real balance to maintain. 

What do you enjoy about working with senior living communities, including independent living, assisted memory care, skilled nursing, CCRC and hospice communities? 

It is rewarding to be designing in an industry that has so much impact in peoples’ lives. We get to design something that will be called home to many people, and most will spend a significant amount of their day there. It’s important to help all the senior residents feel independent and welcome as they transition into and spend the days in their new home.

What is the best way for designers in this industry to stay on top of the trends? 

One of the best ways for designers to stay on top of the trends is to reach out to our sales representatives. We learn best from other people in the industry, especially when they can tell us which of their products has the most success out there in the world. We learn many new ways to overcome certain challenges by conducting research through our sales reps to help find the most competitive and aesthetically pleasing products. With these information, we can further enhance our designs for our clients.  

How do you learn and understand the unique desires of each community, and create relevant interior designs?  

The best way to learn and understand the community is to ask questions about the owner/operator, and the residents’ day-to-day activities and interests. The location of the community is also a key to help the design, because it provides inspiration for things such as color schemes, materials, artwork, and other things. With those two together, it provides us the information necessary to help create its own unique design.

What’s your favorite interior design “find” lately? (Tool, vendor, product, trend, etc.) 

One of my favorite interior design “find” is actually just communicating with other designers.  It’s great to hear about designs and products that are working or failing in the real world. Through other designers we continually learn new “do’s” and “dont’s” of the industry. 

What has been one of your best career memories/proudest moment?  

Some of the most rewarding moments are going out and doing the furniture installs during a renovation project. As we are bringing in the new furniture and artwork, the residents are usually happy about the new changes. It is always great to see a smiling face that is excited about all the new furniture. Being able to refresh a community is always a great opportunity. 

Tell us about your typical weekend or what you like to do outside of work!

I like to go home to my parent’s house in Stockton, CA. I have a handful of smaller siblings and nieces and nephews that I am close to. I have a very big family, and I always have a reason to go home because there’s almost a birthday every month (except July!). We like to spend time together watching movies at home, riding bikes, or going hiking.