As a teenager, Lesley Mowry Robinson enjoyed decorating her bedroom and experimenting with arrangement of furniture. Today, she continues to find the best approaches to architectural space as an interior design consultant for residential clients in Michigan and as a designer for Spin Design in New York, where she worked for several years.
“We moved back to Michigan two years ago when my husband was offered a teaching position in Grand Rapids,” said Mowry Robinson. “Fortunately, my career is flexible and has allowed me to work from home with new clients in Michigan and continue working with former clients I had at Spin in New York.
“Since my husband’s contract is up at the end of the academic year in 2014, we will be moving again. I will continue to work from home wherever we live. Eventually, I may work outside of the home again, but we have made the decision for me to stay home and raise our children. We’re expecting our second baby in February (2014)! It's nice to be able to still work and bring in money for our family as well as still have an ‘identity’ outside of just wife, mom and homemaker.”
The majority of Mowry Robinson’s work in Michigan has involved residential consulting. For Spin, she does mostly CAD work as well as space planning, construction documents, some design work and maintaining relationships with past clients.
“My boss and owner of the company, Maria Martakis, is very comfortable with me continuing to work remotely, since I was there for almost five years and am familiar with a lot of the buildings that they work in, as well as the layering system they use,” she explained.
While working at Spin, Mowry Robinson had the opportunity to work on the Elie Tahari coat showroom, the Audemars Piguet office headquarters, the Audemars Piguet retail space on 57th street and recently a new boutique in Bal Harbour, Florida. Aside from those projects, she has worked on countless corporate offices, most for the well-known realty company Vornado Realty Trust. Her responsibilities ranged from project management to design that has included office fronts, doors, lighting, coffee bars and furniture.
“New York was intimidating to me at first,” admitted Mowry Robinson. “I was only able to move to NYC because of a summer internship. Then, for about a year or so, I jumped from job to job before I landed my job at Spin.
“I highly recommend internships! I had two while studying at CCS. It really helps to have that ‘real world’ experience in what you think you might want to pursue as a career. Those opportunities taught me how to give any space a modern, contemporary look, and through them I became familiar with the names and brands being used in the industry. My experiences as a student also instilled a spirit of competitiveness in me. In a city that thrives on competition, this has been most helpful.”
While serving as the president of the college’s student chapter of American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Mowry Robinson studied trends in the profession and practices in the industry. Her instructors, all working professionals, taught her how to cultivate creativity and rise above the competition—essential knowledge for all emerging artists and designers.
“There was a time when I wasn’t sure where to look for inspiration; I wasn’t sure if this career was for me,” admitted Mowry Robinson. “But instructors like Sandra Sabbagh taught me to look inside to find my distinct style, and I realized that I was very much at home in this career.”
- Freelance (Michigan)/Spin Design (New York)
- Interior Design Consultant