Discovering a passion for design

Mar 22, 2017

How students and faculty found inspiration for careers in design.

SALA’s studio floor

Limitless learning

Shasha Wang, an environmental design student at SALA, became interested in design at a young age. She says that most of her childhood “extracurricular activities centered around the visual and performing arts.” Although she enjoyed music, dancing, and painting, she didn’t consider a career in design until after high school.

When Shasha began thinking about her “post-secondary plans,” environmental design interested her because it offered a career that was inclusive of her artistic side while also allowing her “to engage and learn in a multidisciplinary fashion.”

For her, SALA’s environmental design degree is “a unique and productive opportunity” to explore the built environment in its many different forms: “By being able to be a part of the program, I have been lucky to have my perception of design change and widen with every project, lecture, and conversation.”

Professional possibilities

For Brit Naylor, an architecture student at SALA, his interest in design is more difficult to define. He remembers being sheltered from versions of the built environment that were outside of the experiences his parents wanted for him.

But after graduating from college, Brit moved to Nashville and explored his interest in design while working in a frame shop, programming the machines to cut interesting patterns on scraps of wood. Eventually, he bought a home in East Nashville and began to identify as “someone who belonged to, and contributed to, an urban environment.”

From there, Brit began working tangentially on a new construction project, meeting with architects and contractors, and going over plans. Despite feeling a bit unqualified to perform this work, he was exploring an interest and “learning to see things in a new way.” His studies at SALA are a “formalized continuation of that process.”

From the page to practice

When faculty member, Bill Pechet, was young, his parents renovated their garage. He “loved watching the transformation of the space” and how it reorganized their home. Looking at an architect’s plans for the renovation, Bill realized “that the lines on the page represented a space to be built.” This was his informal introduction to architecture and design.

In high school, Bill took an experimental course in urban geography. It cemented his interest in architecture, while also teaching him to see cities as “designed spaces.” He began considering what responsibility a building has “towards the larger ‘public’ life of a city.”

After a double major in geography and fine arts at university, Bill entered architecture school. Today, he is both a faculty member at SALA and a practitioner in the field. His work is a reflection of his early experiences with architecture and design. He contributes on “both the urban and more local scale,” which includes “public spaces, public art, street design, and, even, yes, still occasionally residential work.”

Wondering if a career in design is right for you?

Our Design Discovery program is for anyone interested in exploring their passion for architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. It’s a great opportunity to get a taste of the studio culture at SALA, build foundational skills, and find out of a career in design is right for you. This summer, Bill will teach it.