Tell us a little about your background. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Tijuana, Mexico. I lived there with my family up until my father went to prison for trying to sneak illegal drugs into the United States. Without my dad, we had nowhere to go and nothing left for us in Tijuana.
My grandma took us in, and my brother, mom and I moved to her farm in Eastern Washington. I spent the rest of my childhood in Sprague, right off I-90. (Blink and you’ll miss it.) I graduated high school in 2012, along with my other three classmates.
Below: Photos from Amber’s childhood in Tijuana, Mexico, and her grandparent’s farm in Sprague, Washington.
When did you realize Interior Design was your future career?
High School was where I first explored my creative side. I always took the classes seriously that others seemed to think of as an extracurricular class. I loved building cabinets in woodshop and welding unorthodox figures in metal shop.
At home on my grandma’s farm, I would take the time to make my space feel like me. It wasn’t something I really noticed about myself, but my grandma did. She would always push me to explore design in different mediums. It took 23 years for me to finally listen.
After high school I was off to Seattle for school at the University of Washington. I graduated with a degree in Communications, but a year after graduating from the University of Washington I decided to pursue a career in Interior Design. I realized that design was my true passion.
How did you find Heritage?
I first started studying interior design at the Art Institute of Seattle, but sadly a year into my studies the school shut down. Luckily for me Heritage had just opened up in Seattle. The school was located in the Seattle Design center, and after going in for an interview with Andrea, everything felt right and I decided to go for it!
What was your experience like attending Heritage?
Enrolling at Heritage was such a great move for me; it was exactly what I was looking for. I think back to how much I loved the feeling of Heritage when I first visited and recognize the same type of warmth that I felt from my small-town community.
The structure of the classes supported my learning style and I valued the ability to grow alongside my classmates; we really created a community of support for each other. My classmates were so supportive, and the instructors were just as monumental for me. I can honestly say I had 1:1 support from them.
I have to mention my commercial instructor, Robert Cipollone, whom I admire immensely. He dedicated so much time and was as invested in my final project as I was. I could tell he was committed to preparing me for work in the industry, the “real world”. I know I am walking away from the Heritage program with a strong and supportive network of fellow students, designers, and instructors.
What’s life like after Heritage? Tell us about your current job and your career goals.
With the help from Heritage I was able to land a job as a Commercial Design Specialist at Inform Interiors in Seattle! I work with wonderful manufacturers selling hand-crafted furniture from Europe. I meet with high end interior designers specing for retailers such as Nordstrom’s design team and Nike.
This position is a great starting point for my career and I value the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of product and materials. None of the products I work with are mass produced; they are all made-to-order pieces, curated by artists. These pieces are meant to be around for a long time– something I admire.
My long term goal is to become a high-end residential interior designer in Seattle. I am drawn to residential design and I feel residential designers have more sway over the final look and feel. For me, creating a home space is more fun and approachable than commercial design. I also have a strong interest in sustainable design and would like to integrate that into my design work wherever I end up.