Zoe Limbeck is an interior designer in the living studio, working on various senior living and mixed-use multifamily projects. Jennifer Sodo sat down with Zoe to learn more about her unique perspective on design. (Interview edited for brevity.)
Jennifer: Can you tell me about your journey to becoming an interior designer in our living environments studio?
Zoe: My dad is a custom jeweler, and having a parent with a creative job opened me up to the possibility of a career in the arts or design. My parents encouraged art and expression very early – we’d frequently tour grand houses, visit art museums and attend plays. In high school, I took a design course and sought any design exposure I could, including going to stores like West Elm and Design Within Reach to study the furniture, accessories and displays.
I’ve always wanted to pursue creative work. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in interior design, I wanted to go into residential design to directly impact people’s lives. I worked in single-family residential design for a year but then moved into the commercial world, where I enjoyed the pace and projects. After a while, I felt I needed more opportunities to grow and flex my design muscles. I was excited to join the living studio at EUA, which felt like an excellent opportunity to dive into a residential-focused market at a different scale.
Jennifer: Have you experienced a space that significantly shaped your outlook on the built environment? What did you take away from that experience?
Zoe: I’ve visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in southwestern Wisconsin several times, and I’ve always been fascinated by how the rooms there can physically affect you as you walk through the house. He creates these unique sequences of compression and release by lowering the ceilings in corridors and then opening up to these much grander spaces for living. You can literally feel the pressure walking through the tighter spaces, making you appreciate the more generous rooms even more. He also pairs unique details with these big volume moves – like low bookshelves and seating, which help transition between some of the spaces, and mullion-free or open corner windows, which make the bigger rooms feel even more expansive.
What strikes me the most is that while Wright’s buildings are known for having various construction flaws, he took risks and tried something different than most of his peers.
A view of Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, the home and studio of famed architect Frank Llyod Wright. The building embodies Wright’s ideas of organic architecture and the principles of the Prairie School, including low, flat roofs; long horizontal bands of windows; and a contrast of tight and open interior spaces.
Jennifer: As an interior designer, is there an aspect of a building’s design you always notice first when you first walk through any living environment?
Zoe: Form, color and natural light always hit me first. Natural light was a significant factor my husband and I considered when buying a house; it has such an important impact on the feeling of a space. Seeing how that translates from a single-family home to larger living environments interests me.
I also love spaces that are unique or quirky when it comes to finishes or features, so as I explore the details of a space, I enjoy discovering those touches that take it from good to great.
Jennifer: What advice do you have for me and other designers to help us create impactful environments?
Zoe: Consider all the planes in the space. Most of us are used to reviewing floor plans, and as we design, we must keep the whole space volume in mind. I’ve been in rooms where it’s clear the floor finish and pattern were purposeful, and the walls are thought through and considered, but then the ceiling feels like it’s leftover – which is such a shame.
Jennifer: What’s one hope you have for the interior design industry in the next ten years?
Zoe: I hope that the interior design industry can push for more focus on sustainability, particularly in the development of products. We have so many choices in finishes and fixtures, but that can also create much waste when products are pulled from the market so soon or look dated in no time. Having multiple price points and options is necessary, but we must keep product life cycles in mind.
This interview with Zoe is part of a series that highlights the unique experiences and perspectives of our living studio team members. Check out previous interviews featuring design sensibility during construction, shifting perspectives on our environment and empathy in design. Stay tuned for the next installment!