Thinking Big

Translating passion to design.

MeganDobstaffFORWEBFor Gensler interior design associate Megan Dobstaff, BINT ’10, a big idea can come out of the smallest moment. This was the case in 2011, when a schematic design for Philips Lighting’s North American headquarters—and all its block-like shapes—suddenly took on a very familiar appearance.

“I made a joke one day and said, ‘The plan looks like Tetris,’” Dobstaff recalls. “And the client loved that.”

Inspired by the classic video game’s floating blocks of light falling in black space, Dobstaff and her team designed the entire workspace around the Tetris concept. They built extruded forms that create blocks of space in bold colors like lime green, apple red, purple and blue.

“It was a big concept that the client got, it related to the product that they sell—and the colors in there are crazy,” Dobstaff says. “I really do believe in that big, sometimes crazy idea that becomes the universal language of a project.”

Dobstaff’s big ideas led to her appointment as associate at Gensler in December 2012. Appointments are a particular honor, Dobstaff says, because they’re merit-based and voted on by colleagues. Her new title has given her more of a leadership role at work.

“I’m working on design projects that have a lot less design director interaction,” Dobstaff says. “I’m somebody anyone in this office knows they can come to and ask a question.”

An Ohio native, Dobstaff transferred to Wentworth when she was about a year away from earning a design degree from another school, because she realized she still had a lot to learn. After researching schools in New York and other cities, Wentworth emerged as the clear choice.

“Wentworth’s teaching style is not interior decorating. It’s ultimately interior architecture,” Dobstaff explains. “You get a space, and you design every inch of that space.”

That approach to design hit the right note with Gensler, too: The company hired Dobstaff as a job captain in September 2010, right after she finished school. Since then, Dobstaff has worked as a project designer on several of Gensler’s workplace projects involving tech- and product-based companies.

Ultimately, she wants her passion for her own work to translate to the workspaces she designs.

“My goal is to design space that inspires people to be the best that they can be, doing what they’re good at,” she says.


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