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Andja Cunningham

Interior Design

Associate Interior Designer at Fielding Nair
The Art Institutes International Minnesota

Andja_Cunningham

I went into interior design to make spaces that helped the people in them, particularly children. Since I am working for a design firm that solely designs for children, I am very dedicated to the work I do and am always looking for ways to make it better. Andja Cunningham , Associate Interior Designer at Fielding Nair
Bachelor of Science in Interior Design , 2015 , The Art Institutes International Minnesota

Associate Interior Designer at Fielding Nair

Andja Cunningham is an associate interior designer at Fielding Nair International, a planning and architectural design firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She’s responsible for furniture layouts, material selections, creating interior design proposals, and meeting with clients. Andja explains that in the small, busy firm there is no typical workday. “I may be working on [many] projects; I'll select colors for one, brainstorm storage solutions for another, and then switch to creating flooring plans for the next project. The next day, we could be doing full team brainstorming sessions and then presentations when that is finished.”

Prior to joining Fielding Nair International, she worked at Creative Lighting in St. Paul, Minnesota and at Hay Dobbs P.A. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She says that she was challenged in her career on the very first project after graduation. “My first project was much larger than anything I designed in school. It was very challenging to come up with a concept and design the space. My plan A failed. I took a deep breath, smiled, and asked my project manager how I could make a better design. Now it's a much stronger project as a result. “

She advises current students to keep a positive outlook and attitude. “When you are working hard to find the solution to a problem, it can be very frustrating but everything you try is one more step towards the solution. Keep you head up and keep reaching for your goals.” Andja explains that she chose interior design because she wanted to create spaces that helped people—especially children. “Since I am working for a design firm that solely designs for children, I am very dedicated to the work I do and am always looking for ways to make it better. Part of this commitment is taking critique from my peers to make a project stronger.”

Since her work is in the education field, Andja studies trends and philosophies behind different school models. “These models are changing rapidly as technology grows to be more prominent in education systems. Once I can understand these advances, there are more opportunities for me introduce new design ideas and innovations.”

Her workplace encourages creativity and collaboration. As an interior designer, she organizes palettes of materials to review with her teammates, then works together to mix and match material samples until they have a palette everyone agrees upon.

“Its one of my favorite parts of my position,” she says.

She continues to build professional connections through networking—something that she began during her last year of school. “I went to an event ended up talking to a fellow [Art Institutes International Minnesota] alumna out in the field. A few weeks later, she emailed me about a position she came across and referred me to the firm. She knew I was looking and thought my personality would be a good fit. She never would have known any of that if I hadn't gone to the networking event.”

Andja, who in 2015 earned a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from The Art Institutes International Minnesota, says that her education provided the foundation she needed to succeed in her job. These skills include program knowledge, research skills, and how to build a beautiful design. “Most importantly, it taught me to use those tools to take risks—and how to get back up if I fail.”

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