Texas Tech University

Texas Tech alumna makes headway in Alaskan interior design

By Ashley Ryan, College of Human Sciences Marketing and Communications

Dana Nunn's career opens door to many unique design opportunities in the green state of Alaska.

Dana Nunn TTU2002 Interior Design Alumna, Dana Nunn, has taken up roots in Alaska as she advances further into her career as an interior designer and project manager.

Additionally, Dana is a Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). Outside of her design work, Dana and her husband, Trevor, enjoy exploring the outdoors and playing golf together on the Alaskan greens.

"I broke 100 playing golf last year! That's a really big deal considering I'm not a natural. You can easily lose your ball to a moose, bear, or even a fox on Alaskan golf courses."

Dana currently serves as the chapter president for the American Society for Interior Designers (ASID), a professional organization for design professionals. Dana is in her second year as president, and will serve as the Chapter Support Team at the national level in the upcoming year.

"The leadership training and opportunities I've enjoyed through ASID have been tremendous and I'm so proud to have served with such professional, driven men and women who work so hard to advocate for our profession."

When Dana started her academic pursuits at Texas Tech, she first went into the Whitacre College of Engineering. In her final semester before graduation, Dana decided to follow her heart and switched to the Interior Design Program in the College of Human Sciences (COHS). Dana comments that the COHS was instrumental in teaching her the fundamentals and the application of those principles. Dana highly values how the COHS strengthened her sensitivity to humanity.

"Practicing collaboration was key to my early success as a very young designer on a team for a huge career project, and I have continued to build on that."

Upon graduation, the design market took a little dip, which led Dana to apply for jobs all over the country and world. After her first offer came in from Alaska, Dana jumped at the opportunity. Dana arrived to inherit the project of a lifetime, The Anchorage Museum Expansion. Dana quickly progressed from a junior designer to lead and eventually became the project manager.

After nearly 13 years with her original Alaskan employer, Dana moved to another Alaskan firm this past November and currently leads the design team. Dana explains that in her profession, especially in the culturally rich region of Alaska, understanding the cultural values is essential.

"I'm in awe of their heritage of subsistence and stewardship, and feel fortunate to enjoy these experiences. The western world could learn so much from the humble and wise people of rural Alaska!"

Dana notes that gaining experience in construction has been a significant asset in the navigation of project management.

"Ultimately, your designs are at the mercy of the contractor, so that relationship is critical. Plus, that little bit of experience will be so valuable when you're developing and documenting your designs."

Dana describes her design philosophy in three words: community-oriented, pragmatic, and finessed. Most of the projects Dana leads are critical to the local communities and often celebrate heritage and culture.

"My designs must be sensitive to climate and logistical challenges, flexible for multiple uses that change over time, and timeless."

Dana offers some tips to current students striving towards a career in interior design.

"Talk to as many designers as you can who work in different areas of the field. If someone offers, take them up on the opportunity to shadow them. Be bold about taking on new challenges and responsibilities and always remain curious."