IIDA Great Plains Chapter

Member of the Month 2019


Kelly Nelson, IIDA
VP of Members



Education: Iowa State University - BFA Interior Design

Employer: RDG Planning & Design, Omaha

Years in Design: 9

Years in IIDA: 5

IIDA Great Plains Chapter City Center: Omaha

Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created? Yes! I really enjoy hands-on activities and projects. Understanding how things come together and layering different mediums. I’ve made wall hangings, art, and I built my entertainment center in college. I also like putting a twist on found thrift store items - a bar cart, end tables, chairs, etc., I’m running out of room!

What type/niche of design are you most passionate about? I enjoy many aspects of commercial design, whether it be healthcare, higher education, early education, workplace, or whatever the next project may be. There is a type of cross-pollination that happens between the different sectors. Ideas can be shared to elevate the education realm with workplace aspects and vice versa. Collaborating with coworkers and clients is a continuous learning opportunity, always growing in knowledge and experience which is why the design field is so great! No two projects will ever be the same, you will always learn from the last project to make the next one the best yet.

How do you practice self-care? Laughter! Laughing is vital to an enjoyable life, surround yourself with people who make your belly hurt! I also love going to the gym and being active in general, whether in the morning before work or in the evening after work, high endurance, weightlifting, yoga, spin, hiking, I enjoy it all!

When needing a break from it all what helps you escape? I take full advantage of traveling both in and out of the country. Traveling is awe-inspiring. Photos never do justice to a great landscape or city skyline, so you just have to go experience it in person. Live music is another great way to take a break if you can’t away. My family and friends are also tremendously important to taking my mind off of a busy day or week.

How have you found IIDA invaluable? IIDA is not only about creating valuable networking opportunities for designers near and far but it truly is one big family. I can honestly say that a lot of the members and non-members that attend events have become very great friends. You begin to understand who you can reach out to for advice on projects.

What new products are you excited to use in upcoming work? I get excited about unique ceiling and wall materials like Arktura and Kirei. A lot of times ceilings are put to the wayside so bringing interest to a sometimes forgotten surface by adding a feature can be unexpected. There is also something elegant about simplicity, it doesn’t have to be overdone.