Featured Alumna: Sarah Clair

In 2006, Sarah Clair earned her B.S. in Interior Design. Since graduation, Sarah has been working as a certified interior designer for HKS, a global firm of architects, designers, advisors and makers.

Sarah has specialized in healthcare and sports interior design and was recently promoted to vice president at the firm. Over the years, she has worked with the architecture and engineer teams to create highly intricate spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also impact the user’s health and wellbeing in a multitude of ways. Creating environments that are functional, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing is Sarah’s top priority. Her designs integrate workflow, wayfinding, branding, technology, art and furniture to create evidence-based environments that contribute to the improvement of human interaction with and within the space. She collaborates and works closely with end users and the entire design team from early conceptual design to architectural production and through construction administration to carry out the vision of her clients.

Sarah shared that it is “truly amazing to see how an interior space can help shape a patient’s outcome or an athlete’s performance.” She is constantly looking out for the best performing healthy materials and interior architectural systems that she can find to integrate them into her own designs and projects.  At HKS, she gets the opportunity to work on projects from the schematic design phase to their completion. Seeing a project built, and experiencing how others use the space, makes years of work on a project pay off. Sarah’s work can be seen throughout the country, as she has had over 25 projects within the healthcare industry and 8 projects within collegiate and professional sports. Sarah has also worked on several higher ed projects, as well as hospitality and residential projects.

“My education from ECU means a lot to me,” Sarah said. “I learned so many valuable lessons in our Interior Design program. The Interior Design program was tough, and it taught me to be strong. Our professors pushed us to design the most aesthetically pleasing, sustainable, healthy, adaptable and, most of all livable, spaces we could. I also give a lot of credit to our ECU swimming and diving program. I was a swimmer all four years while studying interior design. It gave me the background knowledge to help design our higher education athletic facilities.”

Sarah’s advice for students? “My advice would be to never give up when things are tough. One day, you will come out from your hard work and see all your progress and be amazed at the outcome! After years of working on all the small details of a large children’s hospital I have seen this. Now I get to take my children to this hospital for their own doctor’s visits and their eyes light up! They not only know their mommy helped draw and design the hospital, but that it is also actually a fun and beautiful destination. That is the payoff!”

Below are some examples of the many projects Sarah has helped design and curate.