In an industry where the latest and greatest are always top of mind for clients, experience is still one of the most valued commodities to clients and employers. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jackie Saffel, KYCID, Senior Interior Designer at Luckett & Farley. Jackie is not only one of Luckett & Farley’s most convivial employees, she is also one of its most experienced. With over 30 years in the design industry, Jackie knows the business inside and out, but she’s not resting on her laurels. Jackie balances a wealth of experience and knowledge with a desire to keep abreast of the latest and greatest the interior design world has to offer. In short, she brings her clients the best of both worlds.
Jackie’s unparalleled experience in interior design is only a part of her story. Like many young high school graduates, Jackie was unsure of a career path that would embrace her interest in painting and drawing. She wondered, “What do you do if you like to draw and paint? I’m not going to be an artist.” She sought the advice of a guidance counselor, who gave her a brochure from Western Kentucky University’s Interior Design program. She decided interior design was a good fit, and the rest is history. “It’s different for kids today. They have programs throughout school to help them find out what career they want. I looked in a book and thought Interior Design looked good, but I had no idea what it was about.” Finding a career that allows her to have an outlet for her creativity was fortunate. After she graduated from Western Kentucky with a degree in Interior Design, she worked at Hubbuch & Co. in their commercial design department. From there, she worked as a designer for Humana, and in 1992 she began working at Luckett & Farley. That was a huge change in pace for her. “Luckett & Farley was so different from Humana. It was not a corporate environment, and it originally did not have an Interior Design department.”
As Luckett& Farley has grown and changed, so has the interior design industry. Technology is partly responsible. Communication between designer and client has changed a lot as a result of technological advances. “Clients want things
instantly, and we can do that for them.” Jackie remembers, “I’ve always worked on the design from the beginning, preparing drawings, choosing finishes, and working with the clients face to face. Now, everything is through the mail or over the phone.” Another change that she has seen in the way clients and designers interact is that clients and facilities managers are becoming more educated on available products. She says, “They’ve heard of a product and they ask for it.”How does staying on top of the latest trends and newest products benefit her clients? “I try to work with the latest [products] because everything improves so quickly. I try to move with the times and the advancements in technology.” Jackie’s commitment to being on the cutting edge of design reflects the overall approach of Luckett & Farley. Improvements in materials and finishes have changed the way clients not only think about cost, but how they approach maintenance as well. Jackie explains, “Maintenance programs have changed. Clients are more open to maintenance-free products even if that means they have to pay more up front.” These changes can ultimately have an impact on the design. “In years past, waiting rooms in hospital ERs were a problem. To maximize space, chairs would be lined up against the walls, but this meant the walls would get very dirty.” Now there are products like Xorel enable wallcoverings and other materials to repel dirt and stains. This means a cleaner environment for hospitals and other sensitive areas. But Jackie adds, “It also improves the design. Having a better quality of finishes improves the quality of the design.”
Design quality isn’t the only consideration for a designer. Budget is always a concern, and sometimes it’s not feasible for clients to spend more on a higher quality finish at the time of construction. Jackie is well-versed in how budget constraints can impact the design, and finds they are some of the most common challenges designers face on a daily basis. One of her favorite projects, Home of the Innocents, was also one of her biggest challenges. “Trying to keep budget on track and be creative was a challenge. With a limited budget, I had to work with what I had.” But in the end, the task of creating a fun, warm, inviting space for children was worthwhile. Jackie says, “It was such a gratifying project for me.”
What Jackie brings to Luckett & Farley is more than her design capability. She brings a level of compassion and caring that can’t be taught. It’s no wonder she once considered a career as a nurse. Patience and the ability to listen are some of her many attributes, and she applies those to her work. Clients and coworkers alike can appreciate those qualities, and that is just a small part of what makes Jackie a valuable member of the Luckett & Farley team.