Parterre Designer Series: Necia E. Bonner
Houston-based interior designer Necia E. Bonner has been in the industry for over 20 years, so she knows a thing or two about trends, inspiration and design. Bonner is currently a Senior Associate and Director of Healthcare Interiors for Kirksey Architecture, where she oversees the design of a wide range of healthcare settings including hospitals, clinics, physical therapy gyms, and behavioral health spaces.
For our new profile series, Parterre Flooring is chatting with designers from around the country who specialize in commercial design and have experience with LVT.
Parterre: What made you initially want to pursue interior design? And what do you enjoy most about being a designer?
In college I was initially a psychology major. As I thought through the career paths for that profession, I discovered that I really didn’t want to be a psychologist or a counselor. I found psychology really interesting, and still do, but going into my senior year I wondered, “What am I going to be when I grow up?”
I had a friend who was an interior design major and she introduced me to the design world and talked to me a bit about the career, so I took the plunge and decided to try something new. From the start I absolutely loved it, and I’ve never regretted my decision.
The thing I like most about my work is that it is part of my job to be creative. It’s surprising to me when you talk to people about their work, so many people hate their jobs, but I really love mine. I get to be creative every day – sometimes I’m sketching, or I’m in the library picking out finishes, or putting together a PowerPoint. I get to flex my design muscle every day and that’s really fun for me.
Parterre: What do you feel has changed the most about the design industry since you first became a designer?
I remember one of my first projects was a hospital that took seven years to complete. Now, when we build hospitals, we measure it in months instead of years. To me, the lightning pace at which we work has been the biggest change in interior design over the years.
Parterre: Where do you find inspiration for interior design? What inspires you?
I am highly visually motivated like most designers are, so my initial go-to source of inspiration is to hit Google and just start looking at images. Pinterest has also been really great, the thing I love about it is I can get images from anywhere and organize them on my boards for my different projects.
Parterre: What is your favorite design trend that you’ve seen in the industry recently?
I love the use of all these eclectic textures and colors and patterns together; that makes a space so interesting and energetic. Hotels have been doing that for a long time, but offices are starting to have that funky flare to them as well. It shows a lot of personality and a lot of style. It’s great that people are embracing more playful designs.
Parterre: Are there any trends you’re happy to see fading in the healthcare industry?
I love that hospitals are really starting to focus on the fact that they need to not look so much like hospitals. People are looking for the experience now – they want it when they go to dinner, when they shop, and they want it in their healthcare experience too. Our challenge is to create that warm environment, while also keeping in mind it is a healthcare setting where things need to be cleaned and hold up to clinical wear and tear.
Parterre: What is a common design challenge you see when designing for healthcare spaces and how do you overcome it?
The main challenge that rises to the top every single time is durability. A close second would be flexibility. It’s always about the activities that are happening in the space, and in healthcare there’s constantly something around that could get damaged. So I endeavor, first and foremost, to select materials that are durable, and today there are so many more offerings that are both durable and attractive.
Parterre did a product demo for us recently in our office and I saw some examples from the Strava collection and I thought, “wow, that is really attractive!” It wasn’t trying to be wood or trying to be stone, it was something altogether different. Parterre is one of the first companies I have seen that is really trying to offer new options.
Parterre: What design element do you typically consider first when designing a space and why?
I generally start with carpet because that’s such a strong part of the visual for a space, but more and more of my clients are asking for only hard surfaces now. The idea that some of these products that are coming out aren’t just wood-look is really exciting. I like to create an “area-rug” look using LVT to make the furniture feel like it’s grounded, so I need something that’s a nice contrast to ensure that the furniture looks balanced. The next thing I do is to establish my wood tone, so that can set the foundation for the rest of the palette.
Parterre: What is your experience with or general opinion on using luxury vinyl?
I love the different visuals and sizes that are offered. For years we just used VCT because that’s all there was, but LVT now gives you so many more opportunities. You can use the wood-look to warm up the space, or you can do large format, and incorporate more texture and embossing. I have not found that the price point on LVT is a barrier at all, and now we have clients actually asking for it.
Parterre: Where do you see LVT the most? For instance, is there a particular industry you think it works best in?
LVT is pretty universal to me. I use it in patient rooms, corridors, waiting rooms, and breakrooms. I like to use real stone flooring in lobbies, but if a client can’t afford stone then a nice stone-look LVT is a great option.
Parterre: What is your go-to product or a general design element that you try to incorporate into projects?
I don’t have a specific design element that I aim to incorporate, per se. I strive for big picture goals like good balance and scale, warmth, texture, and a logical flow. Beyond those big-picture concepts, I give each of my projects special attention to develop design concepts that are unique to that client and to their individual space and needs.