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Dakota Willimon '07

In NYC: Dakota Willimon ’07

Connecting the liberal arts to a career in interior design

Every job starts with a budget. That’s yet another lesson Dakota Willimon has learned as an interior designer in New York City. 

“People think my job is super glamorous, but sometimes I’m schlepping tile to a client in the rain, meeting architects on a job site outside of the city or working on project logistics in the office. Exciting things, like picking out fabric or furnishings, are actually the smallest part. That being said, I’d rather do those things in New York than anywhere else,” she says.

Willimon interned with an interior designer in Louisville, Ky., after graduation and realized that she needed additional technical training to successfully pursue a career in the field. She worked during the day and took community college classes in the evening to learn AutoCAD and drafting for interior design. She spent a few years gaining experience before making the leap to New York.

Now four years later Willimon is working with Jenny Wolf Interiors and getting the right kind of attention in the design world.

The December issue of House Beautiful will feature a full renovation/decorative project Willimon designed for a young family in Litchfield, Conn.

“I’ve gained so much experience in New York,” says Willimon. “Sometimes people think that to be a successful interior designer you need to go to Parsons or another art school. A liberal arts college, however, gives you such a broad background and such incredible connections. You never know where your path might take you as a liberal arts grad.”

Even now, Willimon finds herself recalling her art history studies at Wofford. “I remember once talking with Dr. (Peter) Schmunk about modern mid-century furnishings. Now I’m pulling things for clients that have those same classical details.”

According to Willimon, another Terrier now is working with the firm. Katherine Posey ’15 joined the staff as Wolf’s assistant to gain experience in the field.

“There’s definitely no place like New York for design,” says Willimon. “It’s the place to be.”

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89