UCO Interior Design Alumni Spotlight with Lauren Naney of Champion Supply
Our graduates are doing extraordinary things! Interior Design Alumni Spotlights are a new feature highlighting our talented graduates. These interviews allow you to learn about where our alumni work, the types of projects they do, and how their experiences during their time at UCO helped shape them into the designers they are today.
UCO DES: Where are you from?
Lauren Naney: Edmond, OK
DES: What was your major?
LN: BFA Interior Design from the College of Fine Arts and Design
What year did you graduate from UCO?
DES: What got you interested in interior design? Why did you decide to major in it?
LN: I had a childhood friend whose mother had fairly eccentric taste compared to my own mother’s, and I felt very drawn to their home. Every room was bold, and all the bookshelves were filled with knick-knacks, photographs from their travels, and pieces from local artists. My friend and I spent hours watching HGTV and rearranging our own rooms, trying to outdo one another. I found it intriguing, and then one day, it just seemed so unnatural for it not to be a part of my day-to-day life.
DES: Did you double major or get a minor in school? If so, what other areas did you study?
LN: In the early 2000s, I wasn’t certain that Oklahoma would ever be a place where interior designers could thrive, and I wasn’t ready to move, so I originally majored in business; Purchasing Materials Management specifically, with the plan to minor in Italian, French, and Mandarin to become a buyer for some sort of textile company. Ultimately, I never grew passionate about logistics and decided to focus on Human Resources since my late Godmother was a well-known professional in Oklahoma. Most of my electives were all in Marketing and seemed to hold my interest, which allowed me to double major. I graduated from the College of Business in 2011 with two Bachelors of Business Administration in Human Resources and Marketing.
DES: Have those degrees helped you as a designer?
LN: Most definitely! Both have been instrumental in helping me build business relationships and market myself and my abilities as a design professional.
DES: What was your first job after graduation?
LN: In 2012, I took a position in Human Resources with Mathis Brothers, where I could further my business knowledge. After working with them for three years, I realized that it would never be the life I wanted. I constantly referred to myself as a hot pink zebra in a black and white office and soon found my way back to UCO to pursue my degree in design.
DES: Where are you working today? Do you specialize in a certain type of design?
LN: During my last semester in 2018, I found my way to Champion Supply with the help of Dr. Valerie Settles (UCO School of Design Director) since a former student worked here. The company specializes in supplying amenities and operating supplies to hotels and restaurants, with its biggest client being its parent company Champion Hotels. Several years ago, the company started to branch out into design and has since been growing the business and department to accommodate the market’s needs. I specialize in hospitality design, primarily in custom hotels; however, I also assist with prototype projects periodically.
DES: What has been one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on as a professional?
LN: I have 2 La Quinta projects in Houston, TX, that the same investment group owned. Watching them both transform after not being updated in roughly 15 years was a pretty awesome experience.
DES: When you were a student, did you work? If so, where?
LN: I mainly worked for Republic Gastropub, then moved to the Ranch Steakhouse during my senior year to work around my new position at Champion Supply.
DES: Where did you do your internship? How did that experience shape your future?
LN: I worked with a local lighting retailer and quickly realized how important business finances and relationships were, especially when you trade on your name. It helped me realize being in retail and working in residential was not for me.
DES: Have you taken the NCIDQ exam? Any advice?
LN: In the process of studying, but it is a beast! I would encourage students to take the IDFX portion during their senior year while the information is fresh.
DES: What is one of your fondest memories of your time at UCO?
LN: Graduating… both times. The feeling of hearing your name called and walking across the stage makes all the sacrifices worth it.
DES: What advice can you give our current students?
LN: Do multiple internships. You can do so many different things with the knowledge you get from this program. Dip your toes in several things to see what positions and company’s culture fit your goals, values, and lifestyle. Create a professional social media account where the content highlights your work, interests, and you as a creative. Keep it clean and professional because I guarantee it will be one of the first things potential employers will look at when sifting through their candidate pool.
The pictures provided show some before and after designs for the exterior of a LaQuinta Hotel and the lobby.
Compiled by Amy Jacobson-Peters, MFA, ASID, IDEC
Division Head, BFA Interior Design, UCO School of Design