Interior Design Alum Inspires Students
Ryan Goeres spotlights the value of collaboration in a field he loves
Ryan Goeres, 34, graduated in 2005 with an A.A.S. degree from the Interior Design program at Dakota County Technical College. Eight years later, Goeres is a successful interior designer in Washington, D.C., working for WDG, the oldest architecture, master planning and interiors firm in the nation’s capital.
“WDG is a collaborative firm of architects and interior designers,” said Goeres, a native of Morgantown, W.Va. “I work on the interiors side of WDG Architecture. Right now, I’m involved in six projects, three in D.C. and one each in Maryland, Virginia and New York City.”Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing
Goeres returned to DCTC in early May to meet with around 20 students in the Interior Design program. “I was originally scheduled to present for one hour,” he said. “We ended up going for two hours. I showed them my portfolio and gave a presentation on a couple projects I am working on at WDG. We talked about salaries, resumes and what’s expected from an interior designer in the field. The questions just kept coming and coming.”
With a history spanning more than seven decades, WDG, which stands for Weihe Design Group, has a reputation as a firm both prestigious and leading-edge. Ranked as one of the top 100 architectural firms in the world, WDG has 500-plus buildings in its portfolio, comprising 50 million square feet of office space and 40,000 residential units. The firm’s location in Washington, D.C., opened in 1938; another office opened in Dallas, Texas, 60 years later. Great commercial architecture stands out as the WDG hallmark.
Goeres enjoyed the experience and remembered how as a student he had been inspired by Interior Design alumni who had returned to the college to tell their stories about life as professional interior designers. His own story features a seven-month internship at KKE Architects in Minneapolis following his graduation from DCTC. That internship—a critical aspect of career development in the interior design profession—led to a job as an interior designer at the firm in early 2006. In September 2007, he was promoted and transferred to the KKE of Nevada, located in Las Vegas, where he later accepted the position as a facilities manager at Blue Martini, an upscale hospitality operation with additional locations in Boca Raton, Tampa, Phoenix and Miami to name a few.
“My job at Blue Martini involved overseeing everything from major property improvements to routine maintenance,” Goeres said. “The position was challenging, yet productive—and I welcomed the opportunity. I got the chance to see interior design from another perspective and learned a lot about HVAC, plumbing and electrical. It was a great learning experience.”
“It’s a pleasure and honor to have alumni like Ryan take the time to share experiences and expertise with our students. His passion about design and his career are inspiring to our students. Ryan’s sincere interest in giving back to education is commendable.” — Katharine Huus, Interior Design Instructor
At WDG Interiors, Goeres works on extremely complex projects as part of a large team that includes architects and other design professionals. A typical project has a number of phases beginning with programming then schematic design and then on to design development, where we present to the client. The design development phase is the favorite part of the process for Goeres, who enjoys the creative piece, but loves the opportunity to wow the client.
“I showed two WDG projects to the students, 460 New York Avenue and 100 K Street,” he said. “The first thing I pointed out is that on projects of this magnitude you don’t go it alone. Interior designers work in a collaborative environment. Teamwork is everything in the design profession.”
Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing
Drawing up detailed construction documents is the next phase of the project. The completed blueprints are submitted to the relevant civil authorities for the required permits. The project eventually goes out to bid to up to five contractors. All along the way, the work of the interior designer is subject to a symbiotic relationship with other contributions to the project, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing and more. Those relationships often generate abrupt changes and modifications to the interior design plan.
“I told the students that stress is part of the job and they should plan on working long hours and weekends,” Goeres said. “You have to love the work. In the end, from the interior design perspective, the whole point is that your design is not only safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing, but also makes your client happy. It’s a great feeling when the client likes your work.”Click on the images below to view presentations on the WDG Interiors projects, 100 K Street and 460 New York Avenue.
Mastering computer software essential for designing interiors is another crucial step for success in the field. Sketching, 3D modeling, drafting and rendering are integral to the job. Goeres is proficient in AutoCAD and Revit as well as Photoshop and other Adobe and Microsoft applications. His specialties are centered on commercial interior design, space planning, finish selection and construction documents. His long-range career goals include becoming a senior interior designer, an associate and then a principal at a firm known for taking on great projects. He is also considering the idea of teaching interior design at the college level later in his career. Ryan Goeres resides in Washington, D.C., and, when he’s not juggling interior design projects at WDG, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend of four years, Niki LaFemina.
Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing
Ryan’s presentation came at a great time. The end of the semester, as students prepare to graduate and look for employment, can be unsettling. Ryan’s story of his journey in the design industry was affirming to our current students. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of alumni involvement. Student dreams become a reality when they hear alumni success stories during a presentation like Ryan’s. Each fall, Design Connexion, our student organization, hosts an alumni panel. — Anne Farniok, Interior Design Instructor
Information about the interior design profession
According to ISEEK, Minnesota’s career, education and job resource, employment for interiors designers is expected to grow 19.3 percent in the U.S. and 16.1 percent in Minnesota by the year 2020. ISEEK: “Competition for jobs is expected to be strong. Many talented people are attracted to careers as designers. People with little or no formal training in interior design will find it hard to establish a career.”
Acquiring a solid, industry-driven education in commercial, kitchen and bath, and residential design gives DCTC interior design students a powerful competitive advantage. Ninety percent of the program’s grads find employment in the field.
- Average Wage: $24.87/hour
- Top Earners: $41.61/hour
(Source: ISEEK: Minneapolis-St. Paul seven-county metro area)