Name: Michael Bent
Job Title: Designer at IA Interior Architects
CSU Graduation Year: 2015
Degree: B.S. in Interior Design
Bio: Michael Bent is from Centennial, Colorado. He is currently living in New York City where he works as a designer for IA Interior Architects. Bent was a Gilman Scholarship recipient and studied abroad in Paris, France, during his time at CSU. As a student, he was involved in the CSU student chapters of International Interior Design Association, American Society of Interior Design, and Student Hospitality Network and was also a member of the Design and Merchandising Leadership Team. He was an RA and a First Year Peer Mentor. He worked as a junior designer at CSU Facilities Management, working on conceptual designs for campus renovations and construction projects. In his free time, Bent enjoys art, movies, museums, books and the occasional video game. In addition to the Delano F. Scott Scholarship and Alexandra Stewart and Gustave W. Voelzel, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, he was a Rocky Mountain Chapter NEWH Scholarship recipient.
Q: Describe your current position and some of the responsibilities that come with it.
I am a designer at IA Interior Architects in our New York City office. We are a global design firm that specializes in workplace and retail interiors. Currently, I am working primarily with tech clients and on co-working spaces. However, I have been fortunate to work on a variety of projects with different client types, such as more traditional law firms. My responsibilities are diverse, from working with design leadership on conceptual, schematic and design development, to working with the project architect to draw construction documents. Right now I do a lot of production work, but I am also getting more client facing experience, which I really enjoy. One of my favorite aspects of my job is when I get to work on a pitch for a new job or new client. These competitions are very similar to school projects – quick, fast, creative and very conceptually driven!
Q: What led you to your current field?
When I was little I loved to play with Legos and The Sims (I may or may not have grown out of it). I always loved to create or design, whether that meant building forts out of sofa cushions and blankets in my adolescence or art and computer drafting classes in high school. These type of interests developed my three dimensional thinking and creative problem solving skills. As much as I hate to admit it, there was definitely some influence from my parents. My father was a residential and commercial real estate agent, so I grew up walking around empty spaces imagining what they might turn into. My mother studied interior design through an integrated studies program, though she never practiced in her career. But I think these influences, with my love of computers and the creative arts all meshed really well in design. During my time at CSUI quickly got involved in the industry and was immediately attracted to the friendly, driven, and competitive nature of the designers I met.
Q: How have your education and experiences at CSU helped you in your career?
My career is very technical, so many of the classes in our program directly relate to skillsets, computer programs, and practices I use every day. The leadership opportunities through our student chapters of American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and International Interior Design Association (IIDA) introduced me to the profession early on, which was great for getting my name out there in the job market. I also participated Design & Merchandising’s New York Study Tour. Some of the professionals I met on that trip I often interact with now that I live and practice here in the city.
Q: What career tips/advice would you lend to students who aspire to similar career goals?
To the interior design students out there – get involved. I cannot stress the importance of building your network. It starts right at school with your classmates and professors; as you continue through the program it should expand to people active in the industry. Interacting with others makes you a better designer and will open more opportunities for you. Stay friendly and warm hearted. Through all the late nights and stress that is inevitable, a warm smile and positive attitude will be one of the most welcome qualities you can offer to your CSU interior design community.
To those students looking to pick up and move to their dream city – don’t ever give up on that dream. A lot of sacrifice goes into relocating across the country, but if it is truly what you want you can make it happen. I did a freelance job on top of working full time over the summer after graduation in order to save up for my move. When there is a will, there is a way!
And to anyone willing to listen – WORK HARD, because it will pay off!
The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.