Interior Design


Colleen Arce

(HED) Harley Ellis Devereaux

Interior Designer

Colleen Arce can’t really pinpoint the exact moment when she decided to become an interior designer. In fact, she was fascinated by several subjects in high school — chemistry, anthropology, business and fine art. Then it hit her. Interior design suited her perfectly precisely for this reason.

“Design architecture immerses you in many different environments and ways of working, living, and learning, depending on the type of work you do,” said Arce, an interior designer at HED (Detroit). “This is what I enjoy most. Through the clients I've worked for, I've been able to learn about the automotive industry, law, education, technology, heart surgery, cancer, libraries and more. I am fascinated by people from all fields of work, the way they live and the space surrounding and informing them. It’s a field I've grown to love more and more as time passes.”

As an interior designer at HED, Arce must think critically about interior spaces through functional, technical and aesthetic lenses. She collaborates with architects, engineers and consultants to create environments guided by the goals of HED’s clients. One of Arce’s largest projects was the design of a community health center in Northern Michigan.

“Interior design/architecture is not just about materials and finishes, although materiality is a big piece of my job,” Arce explained. “I enjoy everything about the process of seeing a building come together, from the first big concepts down to the details of thresholds and floor transitions.

“So far my favorite project is a community health center in Northern Michigan; it’s close to completion! This particular client came to us with the challenge of wayfinding and helping patients to avoid getting lost in their facility. What evolved from those challenges was a solution that not only addresses wayfinding, but also creates a more comfortable space for patients and staff to wait, relax and interact. The renovation features a public core that functions as cafe, circulation and waiting area and provides direct access to the services provided by the center, replacing a previously confusing, underutilized network of small spaces.”

Currently, Arce is preparing to take the NCIDQ exam. This is the qualifying exam for interior designers. Aside from her job at HED, she works on small freelance projects for the Heidelberg Project and private residential work. She also experiments with ceramics in a small studio called Side Door Studio along with five other multidisciplinary artists.

“If I were to give my past self advice, it would be to not be so afraid of what will happen post-graduation,” said Arce. “Even if you don't find your dream job right out of school, whatever you do will be a point to build from, just like CCS. Simply absorb as much as you can, work really hard, and seek opportunities to get real life experience through internships.

“The amazing characteristic about interior design and the education I received at CCS is that it gives you the foundation to become a specific, niche designer or to do the type of work I do, which changes all the time and is not specific to one industry. All of the amazing, talented designers I graduated with are doing completely different types of work, which is pretty awesome considering we received the same education.”

To check out more of Arce’s work, visit

*Photo Credit: Steph Pickard