Leslie Myers took an indirect route to becoming a professional interior designer.
“I’m originally from Winnipeg, and I studied environmental design with a major in architectural design at the University of Manitoba,” said Myers. “After graduating, I started out wanting to be an architect. Some of my first projects were interior renovations.”
While she was doing that, she discovered her heart really belonged in interior renovation, not in architecture.
“I love doing interior renovations because each one is a puzzle and I love solving puzzles,” she said. “So I took the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exams and became a professional interior designer.”
Interior design is sometimes confused with interior decorating. Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behaviour in order to create functional spaces inside a building.
Interior decorating, on the other hand, is the furnishing or adorning of a space with decorative elements to achieve a certain esthetic.
Today, Myers is an associate in the Victoria office of Number TEN Architectural Group, an architecture firm with its roots and head office in Winnipeg.
“When I work with clients, I start off by asking them what their needs and goals are for their interior spaces, now and in the future,” said Myers. “Then I go to work to create a space that is functional, and that also stays in compliance with the building code and what can be done with current construction methods.”
Myers said much of her work is on corporate offices for such government departments as the Department of National Defence and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“There is a continuing trend in office space to greater mobility and flexibility,” said Myers. “Because there are more people working from home these days, there’s an increasing number of fewer and shared working spaces, and that has had a definite effect on interior design.”
Many of her projects have been in support of the B.C. government’s Leading Workplace Strategies (LWS).
The provincial government said LWS, which started more than 10 years ago, “supports and promotes mobile and flexible work styles by integrating technology, culture and space.”
“Today, many employees’ work is defined less by where they are and more by what they do. For the BC Public Service, the tangible benefits involve reduced real estate and environmental footprints.
“Equally important is the desire to improve employees’ experiences by creating options that better suit personal work styles and strengths.”
Myers said LWS has given her the opportunity to create some innovative workspaces.
“We’ve completed projects in Victoria, in other parts of B.C. and in Yukon,” she said. “Each space has its own distinct specifications that need to be met. We want the people working in those spaces to be comfortable and to enjoy being there, but we’re also conscious of the fact that we’re working with public money and that we need to be fiscally responsible.”
In addition to LWS work, Myers has been renovating multi-unit public housing in Victoria.
“The interior designers work with the architects and assist with apartment layouts and interior furnishings,” she said. “I’m very proud of our work there as a company and as an interior designer, because we’re creating good homes for people and we’re doing it with limited public money.”
Myers won the 2022 Women in Construction award presented by the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA).
Rory Kulmala, chief executive officer of VICA, said, “Leslie is known as a leader in the construction community on Vancouver Island and has dedicated time to being an ambassador for women in construction.”
In addition, said Kulmala, Myers has been committed to mentoring the younger generation of interior design professionals.
Myers is a past chair of VICA’s Women in Construction committee network. And she has volunteered her time with the BC Construction Foundation and Camosun College, helping Camosun in establishing its Women In Trades Scholarship fund.
Myers also volunteers with Hero Work in Victoria, which renovates buildings that house charities in the region.
Hero Work organizes events called Radical Renovations – like modern-day barn raisings – in which businesses and groups of individual volunteers come together on a renovation project.
“I’m incredibly proud and very grateful to have received the award,” said Myers.