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A+D Partner Spotlight: Ware Malcomb, an Interview with Wendy Crenshaw

We sat down for an interview with Ware Malcomb's Director of Interior Architecture, where she opens up about her passion for interior design, her love of museums, and how she approaches new design projects.

1. Tell me a little bit about your professional background.

I have been in the architecture and design industry for 30+ years now. I grew up in Alabama and received my Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Auburn University. I am LEED BD+C, NCIDQ, WELL, and CID certified. Because I lived in several states at the beginning of my career, I thought it was important to distinguish myself by supplementing my education with these additional certifications. I am also the Membership Director for the Southern California chapter of CoreNet.

2. How long have you been at Ware Malcomb and what does your role as Director of Interior Architecture & Design entail?

I have been at Ware Malcomb for 2 years. My role entails leadership coordination within our Irvine location and between Ware Malcomb studios nationwide. I also manage our Interior Team and market for new projects.

3. What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Learning! Every day there are new products, new technologies, and new trends to learn about. This industry is both exciting and challenging. Design is not cookie-cutter; every project has its own unique problems and unique solutions that go along with it. It is a very fluid process, and every day is different.

4. Do you have a favorite or most memorable project?

Santa Fe Springs Library was one of my favorites. It was a renovation project where we restored and improved the original design of the public library. The library was originally designed by William Pereira, an architect practicing at such a unique time where much of Southern California was still being developed. Some of Pereira’s credits include the Theme Building at LAX, the Geisel Library at UCSD, the PacLife building in Newport Beach, as well as master planning the UCI Campus. I was honored to be a part of the team to restore one of his buildings with a fresh design for the Santa Fe Springs community.

5. What is your favorite design challenge?

The most fun challenge is figuring out how to be innovative during the initial design process. I also really enjoy the Construction Administration process. Taking the design from drawings through actual fabrication is very rewarding.

6. If you could teach a design class at the university level, what would the subject and content be focused on?

Materials! I think it's important to learn what materials are out there as well as understanding their different capabilities and applications. Understanding the properties of materials would be a tremendous foundation for every profession in our industry.

7. What advice would you give to a new designer?

Stick with it! There are so many different paths you can take with an Interior Design degree, whether it be working at an architecture and design firm, a furniture dealer, or a fabricator (the list goes on). You can pivot your career at any time, all from the same education.

8. What has made a memorable impact or influence on your career journey?

When I was living in Virginia, I was pursuing a Master's in Architecture. Then on a trip to Paris when we were visiting all the museums and seeing all the historical buildings, I had the realization that interiors was my true passion.

9. What is your approach to design?

My approach to design is extremely collaborative; I don’t like to work autonomously. I love having design charettes where we all come up with the best ideas for a project. Even having a brainstorming session with external parties helps come up with great ideas. Putting extra time in at the front end really helps the flow of the whole process of a project.

10. What are some of your favorite past times?

I love going to estate sales, touring old homes and museums, and (laughing) watching Bravo!

11. I love going to museums too! What is your favorite museum?

Recently I took a trip to Philly, and there is a place called the Barnes Foundation Museum. Barnes was an art collector in the early 20th century and he has one of the world’s greatest collections of impressionist paintings that were just incredible to see. I got introduced to Barnes when I lived in Virginia and was able to frequent the Smithsonian.

12. Do you have any favorite local spots?

My favorite go-to is Gulfstream (great for people watching) or Water Grill, which has a classic Newport vibe. Both have great seafood!

13. Fave musician or band?

I love live music and all genres of it. I will listen to anything if it’s good. My favorite venue is Hollywood Bowl.

14. Is there anything people would be surprised to know about you?

I lived in Korea for a while when my husband was in the military, and I am related to former President Andrew Jackson!