Heritage graduate Cierra Warness recently completed the Master Certification Program at Heritage Seattle and has since been working on some amazing projects! We loved interviewing her to learn more about the journey that brought her to Heritage. Continue reading below.
Tell us about your background and what inspired you to study Interior Design
I was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1997 and moved to Puyallup, Washington about four years later. My family is full of artists – my grandfather, an amazing painter. My aunt, a painter, shoe maker and interior designer. My mom, a ceramicist and art teacher. I was always surrounded by creativity, and encouraged to explore my passion for art.
Growing up, my favorite show was Project Runway and I was obsessed with fashion and design. I loved to wear lots of bold colors, patterns and textures and at around 6 years old I learned to sew. As I got a litter older, I became very interested in ceramics, and this passion followed me throughout high school and college. I would skip high school classes and lunch to spend time in the ceramics classroom. After I graduated High School, I attended Western Washington University.
Originally my plan was to become an elementary school teacher, but as I began working towards that degree I realized my heart was always pulled towards art history classes and the studio art building. On a whim, I decided to apply for the Studio Art program at Western. When I was accepted, I was both so full of joy and very nervous to fully put myself in the art world. I started taking a few drawing classes, then dove in and spent all of my time in the art building, taking every class that I could.
During this time, I applied for a study abroad program. I never thought I would actually get to go, but I got accepted and they offered me a scholarship that I couldn’t pass up. My junior year of college, I set out on an adventure, spending 6 months traveling and living in Europe. I used this time to absorb as much experiences and knowledge as I could. I fell in love with traveling, with the new people and cultures I experienced, and all the artwork and design I had the opportunity to see.
When I got home from this trip, I finished my senior year at Western and declared the focus of my art degree on Ceramics with a minor in Art History. Around this time, I discovered the artist Franz West. He was an abstract sculpture artist, who also made installations and furniture. I was incredibly inspired the way he created spaces and artwork that you could experience. You could touch, play with and wear his sculptures. He inspired me to create an immersive installation for my final college gallery show. I loved the idea of creating a colorful, playful space that people could experience with multiple senses. This was my first glimpse into my passion of creating beautiful interior spaces.
After I graduated, I was confused on what my next step in life would be. I considered getting a Masters Degree in Ceramic Sculpture or Teaching, or taking a break from school, but none of that felt true to myself. I decided to take another trip to Europe, traveling through Greece, Italy, France and Portugal. I gained so much inspiration from this trip and began noticing my interest not only in art, but also my passion for interior design and architecture. When I returned home, I began shadowing my Interior Designer Aunt and became increasingly interested in this career. I began to see interior design as a way to create art that was functional, that people could experience and live within. I recognized the elements of furniture and architecture as sculpture, and I fell in love. I began researching Interior Design, and came across Heritage School of Interior Design. I set up an informational interview, and once I entered the school, I knew it was right for me.
What was your experience like at Heritage?
I had such a great experience at Heritage. The learning was very hands on and immersive, which I really appreciated. The weekly field trips were my favorite part because we got to go out and experience what we were learning in the classroom in real life. During these visits we met professionals, gained connections and learned where we could source the products and materials that we needed. The instructors were really amazing – they were incredibly supportive and I know they will be there if I need advice in my future. I really do feel like I learned as much during six months at Heritage as I did in four years of University.
Tell us about your new career in interior design!
I have completed a few Interior Design projects since I started at Heritage. I began with smaller, one room projects and color consultations. I recently started some larger scale projects, including a renovation of a beach front home on Vashon Island. This was the first project that I went through the entire demo and new construction process. I completely gutted the kitchen and knocked down walls to connect the dining and living room. I put in all new flooring, paint, cabinets, countertops, lighting and furniture. The process was so much fun from start to finish, and it was an amazing transformation. Stepping into the final product was an unreal feeling – I loved seeing my initial vision come to life.
I am now renovating a 125 year old grocery store, Alrich’s, in Port Townsend, Washington. This is my first commercial project, and it has been an amazing experience so far! The concept is to create a very welcoming, community experience that resonates with the locals. We are going for a European market aesthetic, with elements that connect to the community of Port Townsend. I am very excited to see this project as it develops! They are expecting to open in the Fall of 2020.
What are your future career goals as an Interior Designer?
My next step in my career is to continue gaining as much knowledge, education and experience as I possibly can. I am currently applying to Internships and sending out my portfolio, hoping to intern with a designer who shares similar values and aesthetics.
My dream is to someday have my own interior design business, designing both residential and commercial spaces, as well as creating furniture, textiles and artwork.
You can follow Cierra’s journey on instagram @designby_cece