What do Diane Keaton, the District of Columbia, and data-driven design all have in common? Answer—Kent McCullough is a big fan! A senior interior designer and workplace strategist based in our DC office, Kent is leading the charge to establish baselines and metrics to measure ZGF’s holistic project performance through the lens of health and wellness. We talked with Kent about confidence, design inspiration, and connecting with nature.
When did you realize you wanted to work in architecture and interior design? I went to a high school with no windows—it was built like a fortress during the Cold War—a time period when it was also believed that views to nature distracted students from their studies. As a result, I graduated with a determination to design spaces that were better suited to human health, wellness, and performance.
How does living in Washington, DC inspire you? DC is a beautifully diverse, active, and lush city with ample spaces for escape and refuge. I try to bring each of these attributes into my design work. DC is also a super sustainable city and continues to be on the cutting edge of pushing the built environment.
Coffee or tea? And beer and wine.
If you could design for a fictional character, who would it be? I’m more into nonfiction and biographies. I would design for Sam Wagstaff, who was Robert Mapplethorpe’s partner and benefactor. Sam was an avid art collector and his penthouse at One Fifth Avenue overlooked Washington Square Park in New York. If he were alive today, I would love to renovate it for him as a showcase for his extensive art collection.
Favorite tool of the trade? Pre- and post-occupancy evaluations and surveys. It’s so important that we leverage data to inform and optimize our designs, and then come back later with a post-occupancy evaluation to assess how we did.
Favorite movie? Any movie that has Diane Keaton is a favorite—Something’s Gotta Give, First Wives Club, you name it.
Do you have any hobbies outside of the office? My partner and I just got a car, for the first time in a decade, so we’ve been having fun exploring Rock Creek Park and drives through the country as an escape from the city. We’re also working on several personal projects—renovating our condo building and my in-laws’ cabin in West Virginia.
What is the best advice you have ever received? To be confident and to not be limited by what is comfortable. Rather, to get joy out of new challenges and new learning opportunities.