Spotlight – Lisa Naing

Lisa at the Woods Bagot San Francisco studio.

A key formula to impactful design

From the San Francisco studio, Woods Bagot Interior Designer Lisa Naing walks us through her design process, her biggest inspirations, and the principles she lives by. Her area of expertise is materials research, complemented by her technical background. She is particularly adept at visualizing concepts and ideas, documentation, and selecting project materials and finishes. Read on for her succinct depiction of materiality’s pivotal role in designing impactful workplace interiors.

The hidden value of a robust material library.

Lisa Naing is a big advocate of researching and sourcing materials early in the design phase.

“Getting the right tone of wood, the right tone of paint, and the right grain of the wood is important to help form the space,” she says. Knowing that “blue can make a person feel safe and calm, but the right tone of red brings forward energy and inspiration.”

She revels in fine-tuning every detail and in the iterative process of finding the best materials and selecting the right colors to contextualize workplace interiors. For her, exploring the marketplace early on can boost design narratives and offer clients the most sustainable and affordable options.

What inspires you, and how do you bring yourself to work?

I was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, and it is a glowing city in terms of architecture and design. Seeing that really inspired me, so I know firsthand how design can impact people’s lives: I grew up painting, drawing, sketching, and doing creative things with my hands. 

I take inspiration from the places that I visit. I do a lot of traveling, so I get inspired by cultures and what I see in their communities, which helps shape me as a designer. So, I try to incorporate hospitality elements into my workplace design projects, borrowing from the impact of travel. In Bangkok, the design incorporates the local culture. It is the forefront of the concept, and you can see the local flare in the design, and I try to incorporate that in my process.

What work are you the proudest of at Woods Bagot?

Designing a new workplace reality during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Incorporating the hospitality element into workplace design took on a new meaning. I knew I was changing how people would experience work and space when they returned to the office. I also worked on projects from home, making me rethink comfort in the workplace.

“I take inspiration from the places that I visit. I get inspired by cultures and what I see in their communities, which helps shape me as a designer.”

What Woods Bagot principles support your vision as a designer?

Three of our ten Credo-ism stick with me.

Find your voice.

Finding my voice as a designer has been my journey my whole career. It’s been about expressing my voice as a Southeast Asian woman designer based in California. I try to put myself out there as much as possible to experience as many cultures as I can and travel as much as I can to see what’s out there.

Consider the safety and well-being of the planet and its citizens.

I am a big advocate of sustainability and see how the future of architecture lies in sustainability. It’s why I got into architecture – to make the change from the beginning. As interior designers, I feel we are responsible for incorporating sustainable practices into our projects by specifying materials that don’t contribute to the global crisis we are facing.

None of us is as smart as all of us.

This belief resonates with me due to the collaborative nature of our industry; it is crucial for designers to be able to take in feedback to create better designs. But also, we need to keep in mind that we are not expected to know everything and should continue to learn from experts from other disciplines.

Lisa in a San Francisco workplace project designed by Woods Bagot.

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Denise Garcia
Content and Communications Leader (North America)

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