We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawn Bennett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawn, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’m not sure I if I chose a creative career or if it chose me. With a father that was an engineer and a mother that is one of the most creatively talented people I’ve ever met, I guess you could say I had all the right DNA to become an architect. My favorite subjects in school were always math and art; so in a very naive way, I thought architecture might be a good “mix” of two of my strengths and loves. Honestly, it really isn’t; but it got me started thinking about the field. At an early age, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a hair dresser or an engineer. While these two fields may seem worlds apart, when you learn a little more about me, you might find that this apparent dichotomy is characteristic and that by choosing architecture, I might just have found the perfect “happy medium” between the two. When I think of people who are “creative”, I tend to think of people who are a little free-spirited, independent, confident (maybe even fearless), and strong-willed. And I certainly had all those qualities! The youngest of two girls, my dad decided he’d turn me into the son he would never have instead of having another child and risk ending up with a third daughter. So, I grew up a tomboy – playing outside, watching my dad hunt, and learning all about sports. Not to brag, but I know more about football than many men and can call a penalty before the ref even throws the flag. And yet, I still love fashion and high heels and dresses and all thing “girly”. I love the outdoors and don’t mind getting dirty or sweaty; but at the end of the day, I need a warm shower, a comfy bed, and a flushing toilet. I’m athletic, but I’m also intellectual and a bit of a “geek”. I’m, technically, left-handed, but I only write and eat with my left hand. I play sports and do everything else right-handed and, in reality, my right side is dominant. I’m a study in polar opposites. And while this duality might not work well in some “traditional” fields, I believe it fits perfectly into the creative world. I have a friend who is a doctor. He is well-educated, attended the best universities, and has multiple degrees. We have arguments all the time over who is the most intelligent between us. I joke with him that I get paid to “draw pretty pictures”. He argues that of all the professions that he can think of, architecture is the only one that allows (or even FORCES) you to use both sides of your brain – the creative and the analytical. Architects have to tap into the left brain and the right brain. So, maybe this profession was in my DNA in more ways that I was aware. Maybe all these dualities are exactly what made me a perfect “fit” for an architect. All i know is that I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What should our readers know about your business?
Splice Design is a woman-owned architectural design studio and practice with offices in Atlanta and New York City. We offer services in architecture, interior architecture, urban design strategies, and consulting. We strive to provide unique and thoughtful solutions that arise out of a collaborative approach to the design process. We are intent listeners and use the information we gather from our clients to transform their needs and desires into physical form. Splice Design is proud to have been recognized by our peers and colleagues through industry awards and publications. As can be evidenced by our portfolio, Splice Design does not specialize in any one type or style of architecture. We don’t have a recognizable “aesthetic”. We work on a multitude of project types and scales, with budgets of all sizes, and in a myriad of stylistic languages. We believe that a successful project requires an understanding of the “big picture” (macrocosm) and the most minute aspects (microcosm) of the project. All aspects have to work together and support each other for the whole to be cohesive. It is this attention to detail that runs consistently throughout our projects. At Splice Design, we understand that we can truly shape the way our clients move through their daily lives and that this physical movement can impact their psychological and emotional well-being. It is a huge responsibility and we do not take it lightly. What we believe that what sets us apart, and what I am probably most proud of, is our commitment to our clients and their satisfaction. There is no greater compliment than when a former client calls you years later and wants to work with you again. We are proud that much of our work is either repeat business or is referred to us by former clients or colleagues. Many architects seem to forget that we are a “service” industry, but Splice Design tries not to. In an often ego-driven field, we try very hard to stay humble and focus on giving our clients the very best expression of whatever it is they are trying to achieve in their particular project.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Atlanta is an amazingly diverse city with some many different things to do, see, and experience. One of my favorite spots to experience this diversity is the Dekalb Farmers Market. Not only can you find foods from the banal to the exotic, you’ll see people from all walks of life and with a multitude of cultural backgrounds. It takes some patience – especially on the weekend – since it is ALWAYS crowded, but it is an amazing people-watching and culinary experience! Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry to enjoy while you stroll the market. And don’t miss out on a meal from the cafeteria. The food is delicious, inexpensive, and you get an opportunity to try dishes from all over the world. My favorites are the samosas. That sauce is to die for! Just don’t forget a jacket. It’s always freezing in the market! After a big meal from the Farmer’s Market, a little sunshine and fresh air might be in order. Downtown Decatur is very close by and its traditional southern square, cute boutiques, great restaurants, and interesting housing stock make for fun exploration. It is a very walkable area and has a charm all its own. Or head into the city and enjoy an afternoon at Piedmont Park (a true “jewel” in the city) or hop on the Beltline and explore miles and miles of trails that bisect some of Atlanta’s most interesting neighborhoods. It’s another amazing people-watching opportunity and you have endless opportunities to rest and “refuel” along the way at a multitude of shops, bars, restaurants, or coffeehouses. Consider ending your night near Ponce City Market at the renovated Hotel Clermont building. Dinner at Tiny Lou’s is a culinary treat (be sure to save room for dessert!) and then head to the rooftop bar for a nightcap and an incredible view of the Atlanta skyline. Or descend to the basement to experience Atlanta’s oldest and most popular dive bar and strip club – the Clermont Lounge. It’s will be an evening you won’t forget!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people that have played a part of making me who I am today, that I couldn’t possibly list them all. However, I’d probably have to say that my former employer, Harrison Design Associates, is probably the one entity most directly responsible for making Splice Design a reality and I can never thank them enough for that. Not only did they train me and invest time and energy to help shape the architect I am today, they also directly led to the creation of Splice Design. I left Harrison on maternity leave in December of 2008 after the birth of my daughter. We were in the depths of an economic recession. As I was preparing to return to work in early 2009, I got a call from my boss. He offered to extend my maternity leave for a few months, but I saw the writing on the wall. If they weren’t in a position to take me back then, chances were that things wouldn’t be any better three months later. We agreed that the best course of action was to lay me off and let me start trying to figure out what was next for me. I had never been laid off and, honestly, never NOT worked since I began my career after grad school. My entire sense of identity and self worth was shattered. Harrison was the first to offer me work as a consultant and Splice Design was born! One thing has lead to another and I have grown my business over the last 10 years and had the flexibility as a business owner to design my schedule to have time to be “present” for my daughter in a way that I probably could not be if I worked for another employer. I had always dreamed of owning my own firm, but I am not sure if I would have ever really done it if it had not been forced upon me. What at first seemed like the worst thing that could happen turned out to be one of the best and I can’t imagine things happening any other way!
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/splicedesign https://www.houzz.com/pro/dmbennettga/splice-design