Stumbling Towards Beauty: A Reflection on Christian Design Work

Interior design

As an interior designer and architect, I help design work places. I don’t just see it as a job, but as a unique opportunity to influence how others can experience God in their workplaces.

I see my specific role as God’s ambassador in the ability to share His love with others by designing beautiful and functional spaces for them to work.

As a designer, one of my first jobs is to get to know the company I’m designing for. I seek to really pay attention to what truly matters to the company and those who work within it. What are they passionate about? What is this company bringing to the marketplace that is unique and different from any other company? How are the people in this company fearfully and wonderfully made?

Every company has a culture. I try and understand that culture, seeking to know what makes them flourish. And then I ask: How can I align their uniqueness with a design that represents them well?I then take what I’ve found and throughout the process, ask myself as I’m designing: How can their space reflect their core values and ideas?

I believe deeply that God cares about each company I design for, and God cares about the people who work there. So, through my work with them, I try to express even an ounce of God’s passion for them and who they are.

What has been surprising to me is how similar this is to showing my brothers and sisters in Christ love. By paying attention to them, I’m able to love them by aligning with what matters to them most; creating a space that will serve them and their constituents well.

The level of detail involved is usually astonishing for those new to the process, and by the end of the process it can feel like overload on many levels. Usually, this is all done while my clients are still trying to continue doing their usual job.

Talk about stressful.

As a designer, I see my job not only as understanding spatial and aesthetic needs, but also emotional and personal needs. I try to emulate Christ by easing the burden, navigating around any pitfalls and providing additional support as necessary. I want my clients to feel that they are heard and understood, so I also focus on making the design process as smooth as possible.

Countless decisions have to be made regarding the space itself, and those in charge of making those decisions must represent their coworkers and try to navigate what they think will work best for the collective group. It’s a privilege to help them serve their co-workers in a helpful and sustainable way.

The field of architecture and interior design holds great possibility and limitless potential. But, if I’m honest, my work really scares me.

It’s a really hard job and, usually, I don’t think I’m very good at it. I fear that I’m not a great designer; that the things I create are ordinary, if not sub-par. The process is not all smooth sailing. Budgets are constraining, clients don’t know what they want, and we’re often asked to deliver designs in short amounts of time. Often, I fail at communicating design ideas, working through ideas with clients, avoiding pitfalls and simply getting a design right.

While many days, I do see myself as God’s ambassador in my field, I often feel like a failure. I’m trying to create sanctuaries where the people God loves can do their fulfilling work, but, when I remember to view it that way, I’m often just trying to make all the pieces fit together, by myself.

The Cascade Fellows journey is all about learning to see God in the workplace. So I’m learning, slowly, that what it means for God to be with me in the workplace, and to experience His unconditional love and encouragement, in that space as well. What has been most exciting is seeing how God really cares about the work that I do. When I’m reminded of how much God really cares about the work itself, I realize what it means for God to transform me, including helping me become a better designer and coworker.

Slowly, God is helping me improve my design skills. God is helping me with my visual communication with clients. God is giving me patience with difficult coworkers. It’s not up to me to struggle through and be the perfect Christian for God in the work place. My job is to surrender to His love and let Him take the lead, even at work.

This is really, really hard. Work is not an area where I want to surrender control. And it’s deeply counter-cultural to see my work this way. According to my work culture, isn’t my career supposed to all be up to me? Aren’t I the captain of my own success- or some other clique quote hanging on the poster in the break room?

But, God is gracious, He’s helping me see that work is my mission field, a mission field where I’m partnering with God, It’s not all up to me. God is the one at work. For indeed, God is making all things beautiful, including the work I do as a designer. He is making me beautiful, as his disciple and ambassador. And He is making me into someone who designs beautifully, with craftsmanship, creativity, and deep sense of calling. One I’m privileged to have and accept with joy.

 

 

 

Kimberly is designer at Weaver Architects and attends Central Community Church. As a participant in the Cascade Fellows program, she aims to connect her faith with the opportunities and challenges presented in the commercial construction industry. She lives in Seattle with her roommate and dog, Yoshi.

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