IIDA Great Plains Chapter

Member of the Month 2019


Kelly Nelson, IIDA
VP of Members


Cameren Stanek, IIDA

Education: Iowa State University - BFA Interior Design

Employer: Neumann Monson Architects, Iowa City

Years in Design: 3.5

Years in IIDA: Since college

IIDA Great Plains Chapter City Center: Eastern Iowa

What might we find on your desk right now? Everything! There a many projects to balance and along with all the digital documentation, there are real, live samples everywhere! You might also find some of the delicious chocolate covered peanuts from Bread Garden hidden away for a quick pick-me-up.

Who do you look up to and why? There are a few people I could elaborate on here, but I’ll focus on one of my dear friends in the industry. Amy Guhl is a talented designer because of her natural eye. But her designs are successful because of her high level of skill in producing thorough and technical documents. Aside from her talents in the industry, she is an extraordinary human being. Her witty humor and goofy side contrast her graceful professionalism. She and her husband have shaped a wonderful family and it is easy to see that she has passed her curiosity and kindness onto her lovely little girls. The woman is GOALS!!

Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created? Sketching and painting are some of my favorite things to do, when I actually make the time for them. I’ve got some of my paintings up around my house and some other works of art that I’ve given to family members for their homes. I find it harder to design my own space than it is to design spaces for others.

Do you have any rules or philosophies that steer you in design and/or career? Color is completely relative. I like to keep an open mind about most new products because I can see them working in the right context. After meeting with clients, I find myself in their head, and their style becomes my own. Looking at different products with the understanding of what the client appreciates gives me an outlook that leads to personal solutions for each client. Although I gravitate towards classics and neutrals, myself, I oftentimes find myself encouraging the use of color. There is a balance of longevity and personality within commercial design and it is easy to use neutrals because they’re safe and appeal to the masses. So, when something unexpected lands in a project, it’s exciting!

What words of advice do you have for passionate interior designers early in their career? Passion is what led me to where I am today, and it is what drives other talented people in the industry. There are so many wonderful ideas to come up with, but it’s easy to lose sight of them when it feels like there isn’t enough time to force imagination. Remember that there are other people in the field that have ideas too! What better way to see your own project differently than to see it through the fresh eyes of an outsider? Learning to balance practical and beautiful design can sometimes be more challenging on a budget. So, enjoy every moment of creative freedom you have and use the final product as inspiration when you find you’re lost. Sometimes just looking at old projects, where I felt especially inspired, takes me right back to that exhilarating mental path. 

How have you found IIDA invaluable? As a Student Director in IIDA, I’ve had more opportunities than I normally would to engage with students and see their work. Even though I don’t always have the time I’d like to attend their project reviews, I love when I have the chance to go because their work inspires me and reminds me of why I love Interior Design so much! You can see the passion in their work and see many different styles and creative solutions that come with each designer’s style.