Sue Parrish has over twenty-five years of design work within the architectural profession. With experience on a full range of projects including all venues of healthcare, her practical problem-solving skills, creative use of design elements, collaboration with clients, and attention to detail play a vital role in how she approaches her design work. By leading the interior design, space planning, furniture, signage, and artwork selection for numerous facilities, she brings her experience in providing inviting, safe, and durable designs to every project at MKM.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a NCIDQ certified Interior Designer at MKM architecture + design. I took a circuitous route to graduate with an Associate Degree in Interior Design from IPFW (Purdue University) after one year of nursing school and three years as a Chemistry major.
I worked for MSKTD & Associates for 20 years, worked as a product designer for a start-up company, and was lucky enough to work for a year at Sweetwater; the building’s interior was a past project. I was fortunate to move to MKM in 2013, and the change in focus to healthcare has been motivating. I have been married for 37 years and have two sons and two grandsons.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Fort Wayne and went to St. John the Baptist and Bishop Luers High School. I lived on the south side of town in a small house my dad had built after he returned from WWII. They lived there over 50 years. That house taught me the value of hot water heating in the floor, I never knew how much I appreciated it until I left home.
What interested you in pursuing a career in interior design?
My mom loved houses. She spent three years in California while my dad was overseas, and she never tired of returning and looking at the homes. We would take walks around the ‘07 neighborhood and she would teach me about porte cocheres and gables, among many other things. Also, both of my sisters are artists, so the love of color and design must be inherited. This all gelled together into my passion for interior design. With that being said, my strengths are math and science, so the architectural side of design appealed to me.
What motivates you to come into work every day at MKM?
I am lucky – I love my job. My tasks are different each day and anything creative absorbs me. I alternately loathe and love the 3D program Sketchup. It is compelling, frustrating and all-consuming to see your designs become “real”. I love working in a team, working toward a common goal. At MKM, the goal is to make the world a better place through design. The pursuit is sometimes mundane and can be expansive, but it is always interesting.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Truthfully, I think inspiration is everywhere. Fashion, textiles, all forms of art, nature, architecture, books, and travel are just some examples. I think designers tend to be observant of the world around them. Every texture, every color combination, every tree, everywhere you look there is beauty and inspiration. You just have to take the time to see it. I am sure my grandsons tire of grandma pointing out every beautiful tree in the Fall.
How do you recharge during your free time?
I tend to fill up my free time with family, cooking, reading and trying to go to every art fair within driving distance. Once I actually have free time, I plan to expand the art fair circuit and combine it with travel. Of course, my house is a constant project and everyone else’s houses, too.
Which projects are you most proud to have worked on?
I am an avid reader, so I loved being involved with the renovation of the La Porte County Public Library (pictured above), all seven branches. The evolution of the library into a community center is exciting. The importance of being a life-long learner cannot be over-emphasized. It was satisfying to be involved in both updating the design of the Library and being involved in the next generation of the dissemination of information and technology.
I also love all of our work at the senior living centers. Both of my parents were residents of nursing and hospice centers, and I learned the value of excellent care and comfort. Providing each resident with dignity, privacy and yet, also companionship and social opportunities enriches their lives. Wrapping these provisions in excellent design is very important to me.
What are you passionate about right now?
Climate change is of constant importance to me. Whatever the cause, there is no denying the swiftness of the impending changes. It is a very complex problem and I feel passionate about the need to deal with this issue quickly. Architecture is innately tied to the environment. It is our obligation to confront, understand and design with the future in mind.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
I am a big city girl. I LOVE Chicago. I started going there in my teens and continue to visit at least three or four times a year. I was finally able to stay longer than two or three days last year and still felt I had just scratched the surface of a great city. I will always love Paris, too. I delight in every detail of the art, history, and beauty of that magical city. I am currently deviating from my city fixation and hoping to go to Cornwall, UK, Ireland, and Scotland.
What is your favorite quote?
I like, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. This seems to go hand in hand with, “Not all those who wander are lost.” - J.R.R Tolkien.
What was the last good book you read?
I love non-fiction. I just finished Trevor Noah's book, Born a Crime, and learned quite a bit about Apartheid. Still working my way through a fascinating, but chock full of information, book called The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions by Peter Brannen. Thankfully, he has a sense of humor and makes learning fun. I love anything by Michael Pollan, too, and have given copies of the Omnivore’s Dilemma to, admittedly, less enthusiastic friends. I am always looking for book suggestions.
Tell us a fun fact or interesting tidbit about yourself!
I worked as a product designer at a startup company for two years. Because of this I am your go to person if you want to turn your baby clothes into a teddy bear, or your wedding dress into Christmas stockings or tree skirt. We were pre-Pinterest and developed many ideas and designs that are now pinned everywhere. I have a healthy respect for sewers and quilters!