Alumni Stories

J.D. Nesbitt

J.D. (John) Nesbitt

The Art Institute of Indianapolis took my natural talent and developed it by learning the tools necessary for a job in the industry. Focusing as much on residential design as on commercial design whereas other schools are heavy on commercial and spend little on residential design. J.D. Nesbitt Bachelor of Science in Interior Design, 2012 , The Art Institute of Indianapolis

Cultivates Creative Workplace to Bring Interior Design Ideas to Life

J.D. Nesbitt is the CEO of Urbanata, responsible for the company’s creative direction. He is also tasked with managing day-to-day operations, managing customer experiences, reviewing and evaluating financial statements, and overseeing employee and human resource management. Additionally, J.D. performs showroom updates and reviews design processes as needed to better serve client needs.

He was recruited at his senior portfolio show by Lowe’s, and hired as a kitchen designer. He’s also run his own firm and publication company. J.D.’s typical day starts by reviewing Slack to ensure that nothing has occurred overnight that requires immediate attention. He arrives early to work to have some quiet time before the rest of the staff arrives. “Depending on the day, I usually have at least one of my departmental weekly meetings to follow up on any previous issues, make sure things are going smoothly, and help the management team clear any roadblocks. Throughout the rest of the day, I am doing any of a wide variety of tasks from assisting a designer on a complex design issue, maintaining vendor relationships, researching new products for our showroom, or assisting an employee with a client issue.”

Urbanata’s workspace cultivates creativity and collaboration. The designers work in one loft area overlooking a large product library. The office also subscribes to many industry publications that the staff peruses for news, ideas, and inspiration.

J.D. adds that he’s excited to be able to work with his husband and bring their dog to work. This makes things easier on difficult or long days. “In this industry, things go wrong. It’s just a fact of life. Regardless of the issue at hand, break it down and start tackling small parts one at a time.”

He mentions that in design, there’s no half-way. Clients are spending large amounts of money and trust him to do a good job. “You have to be able to hit the ground running and be on your A-game. Beyond that, you’ll need to figure out how to set yourself apart from your competition. This industry is highly competitive and you’ll need to be ready for that.”

J.D. states that it’s smart to hit the ground running after graduation—using the tools learned in school to speak intelligently to clients about projects. “When I first started out, I hunted down a really good general contractor and I latched onto him for the first two years. I visited my job sites almost daily, asked lots of questions, and took lots of photos as work progressed. As soon as problems would arise, I’d be right there with them trying to see how they solved them and adding that knowledge to my own tool kit.” This hands-on approach to business helped J.D. to learn the whole process and better communicate both verbally and through his designs.

“Construction knowledge is one of the single most important skills that fresh designers need to learn and need to start learning quickly. While still in school you can volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or try and get some experience working alongside a general contractor.”

J.D., who in 2012 earned a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from The Art Institute of Indianapolis, says that his education provided the tools needed to hone his design talent. “Having instructors who were still actively working in the industry helped me with my business acumen as they could relate their real-world experience and answer my myriad of questions.” He plans to reach out to the school to offer his assistance to the next generation of budding interior designers.

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