Sebben serious about benefits of proper design

Jean Sebben wants the public to know that interior design is not a “hobby.”

Jean Sebben wants the public to know that interior design is not a “hobby.”

By age 5, Jean Sebben could “space-plan” and organize her brother’s snowball forts and tree houses. By eighth grade, Sebben knew she’d be a designer.

These days, she eyeballs a space, immediately knowing how to improve the matrix and layout to benefit the people who work or live there — from dormitories to hospitals to offices. She chooses finish materials that are not only attractive, but slip-resistant, LEED-compliant, don’t collect bacteria, and don’t “off-gas,” to create environments and traffic flow that enhance comfort, safety and efficiency.

Sebben took time recently to tell CSBJ about herself and her business.

Organization: Jean Sebben Associates LLC, Commercial Interior Design

Position: General manager

Hometown: Sopris

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: About 75 percent of my life, and I consider this town my home.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Colorado State University; certification from the National Council of Interior Design; Accredited Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Professional from U.S. Green Building Council; for the last 28 years, I’ve been living out (as an interior designer) my unfinished MBA senior thesis from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

A few words about your company: Jean Sebben Associates, LLC is a woman-owned, small business founded in 1982.

The firm is made up of aesthetically talented and trained individuals, with design directors April Rains and Michael Esch guiding a team of diverse designers dedicated to meeting the needs of the client and project success.

Our project manager, Don Masse, works with the government contracts and private contractor communications. Jackie Thompson functions as the purchasing department for turn-key projects, and  provides human resource information to employees. Our employees make up a very educated, dedicated and multi-talented design team.

Recent accomplishments: JSA worked as the interior design team for the new St. Francis Medical Center on Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard, which was selected by American Society of Interior Design for the award in health care for facilities of more than 50,000 square feet.

Recently, we were honored to have an article published in Green Business Quarterly, being recognized for our position in the green building industry.

Biggest career break/accomplishment: A large break is having exceptional clients that appreciate and understand what the interior design profession accomplishes within their project.

I saw a difference in my career path once I became Colorado state president of the American Society of Interior Design. This allowed me to function on a national level giving me national exposure, which was beneficial.

The toughest part of your job: Educating the general public that interior design is not a hobby; nor is it performed by architects, secretaries, purchasing agents or decorators, who often collaborate with interior designers. Commercial interior design requires education, qualifications and experience in technical and code compliance to accomplish healthy and safe exceptional interiors for a client.

Someone you admire: Both my parents; they allowed me to be who I am and made it easy to find the career that fit.

About your family: I have an amazingly talented and loving husband. My extended family and friends have always participated with me in the arts and design.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: I’ve been researching higher education environments and how interior design elements will be changing to accommodate the younger generations, which contributed to our most recent project. JSA was selected to renovate Mathias Hall, a dormitory on the Colorado College campus.

How your business will change during the next decade: I think that our mainstream clientele in government, health care and education will have significant changes in the way they do business, which will impact our design for their environment.

What book are you currently reading? Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol” and Eric Weiner’s “Geography of Bliss.”

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I would change the prevalent attitude that expertise has to be found outside our city.