Angie Lee Believes Connectivity is the Key to Progress

Pembroke’s vice president and head of interior design, part of Metropolis’s Specify Hot List 2021, talks about developing human-centric spaces as the president-elect of the IIDA International Board of Directors. 

Angie Lee, vice president and head of interior design at Pembroke and former partner and design director of interiors at FXCollaborative, uses a multifaceted approach to create interiors that have emotional resonance. As the president-elect of the IIDA International Board of Directors, she is set to apply the same balance of technical skill and creative thinking to steering the group’s sustainability and social justice efforts. 

“When you walk into a space that moves you, it’s because the designer was able to channel a profoundly personal point of view that they translated from a client brief into an honest understanding of human-centric values,” Lee says.

She thinks IIDA could similarly translate design from a privilege for a few into a benefit that’s accessible to all. “That kind of impact, that impression on memory that design can accomplish, is something I’ve always strived to do,” she says.

In her design career, for example, she has aimed to create experiences instead of interior looks. It’s an agility that comes from 20 years of honing her craft. “The typology, residential or commercial, the budget—it doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. It’s a matter of finding the best possible solution for any built environment.”

Technology & Accelerator Incubator by FXCollaborative. COURTESY CHRIS COOPER

Now that the pandemic has forced a reevaluation of essential spaces, Lee says the workplace in particular will be transformed because expectations have shifted so dramatically. “We’ve spent a year and a half getting familiar with the four walls of our primary residences. When we get back to the office, we want to know that we’re still going to be supported, taken care of, and respected, in ways similar to those we have been experiencing at home.”

Lee is also pondering more than the workplace, however. As the IIDA president-elect (and a mother of two), she wants to bring a wider audience to the table on important conversations about wellness, people, and the planet. “There’s going to be a lot of focus on sustainability,” she notes. “And sustainability has to be democratized. We’re talking about it with a different vocabulary and looking at it through an intersectional lens of race and environmentalism, gender and environmentalism. It’s all interconnected.”

Those connections, together with bonds among design professionals, can have a lasting impact. “Members of the IIDA, nationally and globally, typically find a [community] when they join, and take advantage of that network. I want to foster that connectivity because I feel like that’s the key to not only renewed optimism but making real progress.” 

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