Named the 2017 American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Designer of Distinction, Steve Clem, ASID, FAIA, has established a portfolio of creative, inspired projects—all while advocating for sustainability, innovation, and social good. His 40-year career
has been with only one firm, tvsdesign, where his work—including the Georgia
Aquarium, the Woodruff Arts Center, and the UPS Headquarters—has won
more than 100 design awards. After an active history of delving into both the
interior design and architecture worlds, Clem sat down with ASID to discuss
the boundaries, similarities, and crossovers between the two industries.
ASID: Can you explain your background in architecture and what
drew you to the industry?
STEVE CLEM: I have uniquely worked for one firm throughout my career.
I grew up assisting my father in building and planning projects, a process
that I have always thoroughly enjoyed. It seems only natural that it led
me to architecture school at Georgia Tech for undergraduate and the
University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for my master’s degree with a
semester at the former San Francisco Center for Architecture and Urban
Studies. I graduated in 1978 coming out of a recession and architecture
started an upswing.
ASID: What prompted you to begin focusing on interior design?
Do you prefer one side of the process to the other?
SC: I joined tvsdesign in 1978 and commenced a path of 12 years in
predominantly architecture. During that time, however, I was also able to
influence significantly the direction of some of the interior components
of the projects. My formative training in undergraduate school rightly
explored the full three-dimensional aspect of a building as an outside
and inside design challenge, and that they should be conceived together.
That certainly wasn’t what the majority of the practice was doing. It typically
was a dramatic division of responsibility, often halted at the building
lobby with the balance going to the interiors team.
After my first 12 years, I commenced leading an interior design studio. This
wasn’t without personal research and trial and error. Already licensed in architecture, I moved forward and took my NCIDQ exam to be an interior design
professional equal to my colleagues and not just an architect leading interiors.
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Steve Clem of tvsdesign discusses how experience in
architecture lends to the practice of interior design.
Contributed by the ASID | Photography by Brian Gassel