School of Interior Design
Interior Design graduate creates spaces where people want to work
Creating attractive, efficient spaces that promote productivity is what Tanya Logan gets to do every day. As Director of Design at McWaters, Tanya works with a variety of corporate, educational government and healthcare clients to provide the kind of work environment that works best for them. She appreciates how the Anderson University School of Interior Design exposed her early to real-world aspects of interior design while offering so many opportunities to network with those already in the field and valuable skills that include teamwork, problem-solving and learning state-of-the-art software.
When did you know you wanted to become an interior designer?
It was when I was in high school, ninth or tenth grade. I’ve always been interested in art and the creative arts and so all along trying to figure out what I wanted for a career.
You know, people talk about starving artists, and artists don’t make a lot… Initially I thought I wanted to be an art teacher, but then once I learned about interior design and a little bit more about the profession and what it involved, I thought that was a good avenue for having that creative outlet and still getting to apply my more artistic side… actually being able to make a career out of it and something I could make a living doing as well.
Why did you choose Anderson University?
There weren’t a lot of universities in South Carolina that offered an interior design program and I was looking for a Christian university, so that made it even more difficult at the time. I was planning on going to another school, but I was offered a scholarship at Anderson; I was a Palmetto Fellow. My parents wanted me to look at Anderson. I was going to make them happy, but it was that campus visit that changed my mind. When I was on campus I really connected with the people that I met, just the atmosphere of the campus. I just knew at that visit that was the place where God wanted me to be and it felt right.
What are your favorite memories of college?
Definitely spending late nights in the studio with all of the interior design students. At that time, we were still in the basement of Rainey. They hadn’t renovated and moved into the current space where the School of Interior Design is. It got kind of scary (laughs) late at night working on projects, but we had a lot of fun bonding time and we got to be a close knit group. In the interior design major, you spend so much time together in the studio, working on projects. I built some really great friendships.
Also, I went on a mission trip my junior year to Naples, Italy, and was able to build more relationships outside just that interior design close-knit group I was used to. I enjoyed that experience as well.
What are some ways your Anderson University education has helped you professionally?
I definitely appreciate Mrs. (Anne) Martin’s focus on preparing us for the professional environment. It’s not just teaching us the basics of interior design and how to use software programs, history of design, things like that. She actually prepares you for carrying on a business conversation or presenting yourself in a professional manner, how to interact with other professionals. She made sure we had constant exposure to professional organizations. We went to trade shows and had guest speakers come in. So you’re really prepared for being in the real world once you graduate. It’s not just all the theoretical, conceptual side of design.
Tell us about your internship experience.
I interned with a firm here in Augusta that did mainly residential design. Just seeing the client interactions was really helpful because the designer made sure to bring me along to any and all client meetings, whether they were at her office or at the client’s place of business, house or whatever it was. And she gave me the opportunity to present to a client, so again just getting that real-world experience. I wasn’t just stuck in the office in front of a computer the whole time. She made sure to give me a real look at what she did on a day-to-day basis.
You’ve been at McWaters for a while now, with many years in leadership. Tell us about your role.
We practice in what we refer to as the vertical markets in the commercial furnishing industries. We work with education, healthcare, corporate, government clients, a little bit of hospitality every now and then, but we definitely focus on healthcare, corporate, education and government a lot.
What are some examples of projects you do?
From a healthcare standpoint, we can come in and help plan clinical spaces, as well as offices and employee spaces—everything from waiting rooms, lobbies, reception, all the way down to the hospital rooms, providing any of the furniture that’s in there as well as any of the modular casework that you might find in a patient room. Helping plan nurse stations, things like that. Obviously healthcare has its own set of parameters that are unique from other projects. Cleanability and durability play a huge part in what products we’re proposing and the materials and finishes that we’re putting on those products, so it’s a unique category of its own. Thinking about things from the clinicians’ standpoint, how easy it is for them to use and operate, but then also from the patients’ standpoint, making it a comfortable environment where healing is promoted.
Then from a corporate standpoint, sometimes it’s just a small office space with private offices, reception, break areas, but then we also work on projects that are a multistory building. They might have 30-year-old cubicles and they’re looking to update and they need some help in understanding what the workplace trends are, how do we balance privacy versus open collaboration, so we do a lot of up front programming and conceptual design to work through what their business drivers are, what their goals are and how the furniture and physical space is going to support those things and really help with employee engagement and attracting and retaining talent. We’re looking not just at the specific furniture that we’re specifying and supplying to them as a commercial furniture dealer but also how their business and their company is influencing those decisions and making sure we’re recommending things that are going to be supportive of what they do as a company. At that point there’s a lot of people involved. There’s usually an electrician, IT company, and A&D firm we’re coordinating with. Our project managers help with the flow of the project because it’s going to be a much larger installation that can happen over a period of a couple of weeks. We definitely have projects in all scopes and sizes.
Sounds like a lot of moving parts.
Yes, for sure.
What are some areas you work in?
I’m located in our Augusta office. We still have the four locations with Columbia being our headquarters and then Charleston and Savannah offices as well. I manage our team of designers that are spread out across those four locations.
At the end of the day, what gives you the biggest feeling of accomplishment?
It’s definitely those projects where we really take a deep dive into the project with the clients. What are their business drivers? What are they trying to accomplish? How is the physical space we’re designing going to be supportive of those things? And really making that connection with the client and understanding where they’re coming from and what they’re needing and designing something that offers the best possible solution and is supportive of what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s more than just selling a desk or chair to somebody.
Over the past couple of years, the way we’ve worked has changed. Have you seen that reflected in what your clients are looking for?
Yes, for sure. You know, I think when a lot of companies sent employees home to work remotely back when COVID started, it kind of gave us a chance to reevaluate how we have been designing workplaces and commercial spaces and determining if we are designing it in a way that actually makes sense and they actually support the company’s end goals and employees. Are we encouraging a healthy environment for the employees mentally? Emotionally? Physically? It’s more than just physical health that we need to focus on obviously. There’s been a ton of research across the industry as far as how we make the workplace better. How do we change the layout? How do we change the things we’re offering to the employees and obviously materiality plays into that—making sure we can keep spaces clean and healthy. There’s definitely been a big shift in the way we’ve been designing things.
What advice would you give someone who’s interested in entering interior design?
I would say just try and connect with design professionals. Talk to them. See if you can shadow and spend some time with them. The picture we get of interior design is a lot of times what’s on TV, and let’s be honest, that’s not the real profession of interior design. Any exposure you can get to a design professional—talking to them, shadowing them, attending any meetings you might have in your area—any and all exposure you can get is going to help with that process and help you see what’s really available out there. Obviously, just visiting the university and talking to the students and seeing the kind of work that they get to do.