2011 Design Awards
Dayna Flory used to stress out about making design decisions. She was so unsure of herself that, when she submitted her first design project at Michigan State University, she fully expected to fail.
To her relief, she got the best grade in the class. “From that point on,” she says, “I just loved it; it wasn’t even work.”
That attitude remains with her today at Rariden Schumacher Mio & Co. (RSM) in Birmingham, where she has quickly risen from her former status as a student learning the ropes. As an intern before her senior year at MSU, Flory performed the usual menial tasks. But the grunt work paid off when RSM offered her a full-time position post graduation. For the upbeat 28-year-old, the company is a great fit. “It’s laid-back and a really fun place to be,” she says.
In addition to being part of a creative office atmosphere, Flory says she particularly enjoys working with customers one-on-one. During an internship with a different company, she got to dip her toes into the world of retail design — an experience that lacked the personal element. “The good thing about our firm and what we do is we really emphasize individual style instead of telling somebody what I think is great,” she says.
The process of coaxing a client’s personal style and expectations can also prove exciting. “Just looking around at what they already own, and seeing what they’re looking to do, you get an idea of their style,” Flory says. “Ninety percent of the time, you just get a real good feeling of who someone is and what they’re going to like.”
For the remaining 10 percent of the time, Flory has learned to remain unflappable. “In any project, you come across something that goes wrong. But there’s no right or wrong answer,” she says. “I used to really stress about it and really panic. But now I know that any problem that comes about can be fixed. We’re not saving lives. Any situation can be resolved.”
Despite her lighthearted outlook, Flory takes her job very seriously. “Beautiful things and the glamour and fashion of design originally attracted me to this line of work,” she says. “Now, with my experience, I have come to realize that the most rewarding part of interior design is making people happy.”