For all project team members, getting to know our clients and understanding their vision for the future is imperative to create the physical environments they desire. For our interior designers this requires a passion for creating spaces with purpose, whether it's to increase productivity, augment learning or enhance lifestyles. For Laura Waller, that passion comes naturally.
Building on an Early Interest in Design, Architecture & Art
Laura's work as an interior designer is the result of a combined family legacy– from both sides of her family. “My two grandfathers greatly influenced my career choice," she explained. “One was an Iowa State University graduate who owned a construction company, and the other was a high school art teacher and watercolor artist. At a young age, they sparked my interest in home design, architecture and art."
After high school, Laura knew exactly what she wanted to do. She enrolled in the interior design program at Iowa State University and started following in her grandfathers' footsteps.
While studying at ISU, Laura completed an internship at RSP Architects in Minneapolis and a curatorial internship at Iowa State University Museums. She graduated and while looking for her first interior design job, she took a job clerking at Founders Properties, a property investment firm formed by Opus founder Gerry Rauenhorst and Best Buy founder Richard Schulze. The job's location – in the same building as Opus in Minnetonka, Minn. – proved fortuitous. Before long, she interviewed for an interior design position at Opus and was quickly hired.
Bringing a Vision to Life
Laura has been at Opus for over five years, taking on increasingly larger projects and expanded leadership responsibilities. For each project, she develops and presents a visioning package that helps clients imagine how their new spaces will look. “Creating a successful visioning package requires us to listen carefully and put ourselves in our clients' shoes to understand their goals and concepts they have in their minds," said Laura. After presenting the visioning package, Laura incorporates the client's feedback into the space plan, works with our architects to create the design documents, and once approved by the client, adds details like flooring, wall coverings, ceilings and light fixtures to the design. “That's when our work really comes to life."
Laura recently did a walk-through of 365 Nicollet, a 30-story, luxury high-rise multifamily building in downtown Minneapolis. “365 Nicollet is unlike any other space we have designed – a goal our interior designers consistently strive to achieve. We want every project to have its own vibe," said Laura.
“It was so exciting to walk through and see residents using the spaces as we intended, like the co-working space on the first floor – several people on laptops were plugged in and working in the space we designed," she said. “That's really the most rewarding part of my job, seeing it all come together when the end user occupies the space."
“Laura is a creative and imaginative designer," said her manager Jennifer Koehler, vice president of interior design. “She works closely with each client to understand their needs and vision, and then she delivers thoughtful, beautiful interiors. She's a top notch interior designer and is a joy to work with."
Design-Build Benefits Clients
Opus' design-build model is a one-stop shop, and it's unique in the industry. “We find our design-build model very beneficial to clients and to us, since all hands involved in the project, from design to construction, work for the same firm," Laura said. “For instance, we recently created an elaborate bookshelf design for a client. After collaborating with the architect, I was able to run up a flight of stairs and ask someone in construction if it was possible to build. Within minutes, I knew how we could make it work."
With the traditional design-bid-build process, interior designers come up with design, and then an external general contractor carries out the work. “It's not as efficient as Opus' design-build model and it involves a lot more back and forth between the interior designer, the contractor and the client," said Laura. “At Opus, our construction professionals take our drawings and collaborate directly with us."
Laura became a certified interior designer in 2018 and is a LEED associate professional. She has been a member of the International Interior Design Association for five years where she has served on the Student Affairs Committee. She is currently serving on the Fresh Artists Brilliant Awards Committee, an annual juried awards program that serves as the “Oscars" of the interior design industry.
Our associates are talented, dedicated and knowledgeable. They streamline complex projects and always deliver value to clients. Read more profiles of our team.