LEAD Questionnaire 2021

Name: Kara Mazzotta
Company: Perkins&Will
Concentration: Higher Education / Workplace
Title/Role: Interior Designer / Associate
Years in the industry: 14

What is a fact that may surprise people about you?: That I am an avid hiker, in all seasons. Years ago I hiked up an active volcano in Sicily (Mt. Etna), which felt like being on another planet. Incredibly, it recently erupted!
What past project of yours holds the most meaning to you and why?: I am very proud of my contributions designing a new workplace for the creative, passionate, and energetic people at America’s Test Kitchen. Their program was complex and unconventional, as it contained multiple commercial kitchens that doubled as film studios, but helping to realize the vision of fellow creatives was very rewarding. 

Name a favorite space or experience you wish you had designed?: I love any structure that encourages appreciation of the outdoors, and especially admire this “Camp Lakota” project in Southern California, designed by my colleagues in the L.A. Perkins&Will office. This series of panelized, passively cooled cabins is beautiful in its simplicity of materiality, form, and integration with the surrounding woods.

How would you describe your leadership style in 3 words?: Empathetic, Supportive, Delegative 
What advice would you give to this year's class of emerging leaders?: Strive to be a leader who lifts others up alongside you.
Recall a moment you felt the most empowered as a professional Interior Designer?: Early in my career, the first time a contractor called me for direction regarding a conflict in the field. It dawned on me that my drawings were going to result in an actual BUILT environment, not the paper projects from school. It felt surreal at first!
Do you have a "design mantra" or saying you find yourself repeating?: How does this serve the big picture?
What makes a project successful for you?: When the client is happy, and the space has anticipated all of their needs – but also, when the project is doing more than meets the eye. On the surface it is beautiful, and beneath, it is saving energy, responding intelligently to its users, and constructed from healthy building materials. 
How has IIDA helped you the most in your career?: IIDA is a constant source of energy and inspiration. Seeing industry peers take the time to bolster this organization and contribute with their experience and insights to bring the community together is really inspiring. 
How would you explain the difference between a professional Interior Designer vs Interior Decorator to a stranger?: I would liken it to Interior Architecture and Design, and underline our involvement with the substance of a building. Interior Designers focus on more than just aesthetics. It is our responsibility to make sure that beneath the beauty, the space is functional, safe and accessible to all members of the communities they serve.