In conversation with Katy Mercer, Principal & Senior Interior Design Leader


About Katy Mercer

Katy Mercer is a Principal in the San Francisco studio. She brings over 15 years of experience practicing architecture and design both locally and internationally. As a Senior Interior Design Leader, Katy has a strong sense of innovative concepts, strategic programming, cohesive stakeholder engagement, and advanced detailing. Her ability to build and nurture strong client relationships adds value to any project team.

Katy plays an integral role as President-Elect of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) – Northern California chapter, an empowering advocate for Interior Designers in the field of architecture, highlighting their visibility, importance, value, and strengths.

What does #EmbraceEquity mean to you?

We should always be challenging ourselves to constantly think beyond our individual perspectives and question, how can we support people and underrepresented groups in a truly equitable space? A space where there is room for everyone, their ideas, and a celebration of different perspectives.

Equity is creating accessible platforms for equitable voices, opinions, and perspectives in the room. These are the voices that make our work and our practice so much richer.

ByDesign Founder and Host Mike Chapman and Woods Bagot’s Principal and Interior Design Leader Katy Mercer.

If you could give advice to anyone, especially young women, looking into a similar field or career path, what would you give?

With anything, there is a set of rules, however, the success is when those rules are broken and challenged. We are in an interesting time right now around design. There is opportunity to be much bolder and the boldness comes through to people truly believing in what they care about.

Ask yourself, “What is your why?”

Knowing your why, your purpose and understanding what your ‘why’ means to you, only comes from your authentic self.

I believe that we are in one of the most optimistic professions so, you really have the power to control what kind of designer, human or change-maker you want to be.

What has been the highlight in your career/life?

I don’t think I ever thought I would be a Principal in a global organisation at my age! It’s not because of self-doubt, but I always envisioned it as something that would occur in the future. In fact, it’s realization that the future is here and happening right now.

With my Principal role and President-Elect of IIDA position, I feel honored to be a spokesperson for 800 plus Interior Designers and have them believe that I’m the right representation for them.

All the achievements that have led to this point is a testament to not just personal hard work but the hard work of everybody around me, collaborating and working together. It’s a conglomerate of highlights just all falling into place with family and work-life.

Want to reach out to Katy Mercer? Send her a note here. 

Stay tuned for more stories celebrating women leading the way in the architecture & design industry, groundbreaking projects and celebrating #EmbraceEquity for International Women’s Day.

What is your why? Knowing your why, your purpose and understanding what your ‘why’ means to you, only comes from your authentic self.

Katy Mercer Bisnow

Katy Mercer with panelists at Bisnow’s Bay Area Architecture & Design as part of the ‘Innovations in technology & design’ conference, 2023.


Harvey Milk Terminal 1 Wins AIA California’s Climate Action Award

Known for being the world’s first terminal to achieve LEED Platinum v4 accreditation, Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at the San Francisco International Airport is also the recipient of the AIA California’s Climate Action Award—the highest-level design award the AIA CA bestows on architectural projects. 

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