Face Time: Angela Crum at CallisonRTKL
What drew you to a career in healthcare interior design?
I accepted a position at CRTKL’s mixed-use/residential studio prior to graduating, but was asked to transition into its busy healthcare studio. I thought it would be a good learning experience for a few years, but it has become a career that I am very passionate about. The ability to create solutions with our clients that improve the efficiency and well-being of healthcare professionals as well as the lives of patients and their loved ones gives my professional life unparalleled meaning.
What was your first healthcare project in your career?
It was the Bishops Building for St. Francis Hospital South in Tulsa, Okla. This project, which was awarded as the first LEED Gold medical office building in Tulsa, featured a large-scale art installation that I designed and detailed. He was inspired by the diaries of Lewis and Clark and the local flora and fauna. I overlaid my own hand-drawn analog sketches with digital text in multiple opacities to mirror the transparency of the ink-filled pages, which come to life as three large, mouth-blown glass flowers unfurl.
What lessons from this project do you take with you today?
At school, our project reviews were structured and formal. You pitched your entire project from start to finish, then received critical feedback on your work from a series of jurors. I quickly learned that school presentations have nothing to do with the real world. They are much more talkative. I’ve also realized that clients aren’t designers and are intrigued (and sometimes frustrated) by the creativity of the design process, so it’s important to talk concisely about your work, take frequent breaks, and be authentic.
Three healthcare projects you’ve worked on during the year and your role
1 Main Line Health, Bryn Mawr Hospital Behavioral Health Unit, Bryn Mawr, PA, Principal Designer and Senior Construction Administrator.
2 St. Francis Health, Warren Clinic, Owasso, Okla., Chief Interior Designer.
3 Main Line Health, Riddle Hospital Pavilion, Media, PA, Chief Interior Designer.
On interior design trends
Thumbs up: The post-pandemic focus on staff wellbeing prioritizes the need for more “multipurpose rooms” that are easily accessible to staff and can be used for personal respite or to support new wellbeing initiatives such than individual peer coaching. It’s great to see health systems investing in environments that don’t directly generate revenue, but impact outcomes.
Thumbs down: Disposable cabin curtains. I understand their purpose of infection prevention, but they create unnecessary medical waste and are clinical looking. There are more sophisticated ways to design around patient privacy and, if curtains are required, there are fabric options that have easier removal methods to allow for more frequent replacement.
An unexpected object on your desk
A miniature replica of a Spanish fighting bull. It was a parting gift from a CRTKL colleague when she walked away and made me smile with her horns, hairy black body and pipe cleaner tail.
Outside of the office, we’ll probably find you…
At home with our two daughters and pup working on our 1955 house and garden beds or on our ranch property
You also have a creative collaboration blog, Crum-made, with your husband. How did it start?
My husband Rickey and I share an affinity for creative outlets and tend to say, “We could do that.” So we decided to start documenting our hobbies, including flint knapping, jewelry design, furniture reupholstering, and home renovations. Our current design-build effort is a small off-grid cabin for our ranch.
What is the new habit you have taken since the start of the pandemic?
We moved our Adirondack chairs to the front yard so we could greet all of our neighbors who passed by daily. (I also took quite a few conference calls from the front yard.) We met so many new people who had lived in the area for years. It even inspired us to organize a block party last year, which is now becoming an annual event. We feel so much more engaged with our local community.
Morning man or night owl?
How did you make your first dollar?
My mother was a teacher and we spent many summers in her class. So I mastered the laminating machine and started designing and installing bulletin boards for other teachers.
Your favorite karaoke song?
“Why Haven’t I Heard of You”, by Reba McEntire
The first album you ever bought.
“The Woman In Me” by Shania Twain, with “Any Man of Mine”, a classic.
Cocktail of your choice?
A good margarita on ice or Community Mosaic IPA (a local craft beer).
Your hidden talent?
I took baton lessons when I was a kid. I wouldn’t say I’m a pro at baton twirling, but I have some awesome moves.
If you weren’t an interior designer, you would be…
An archeologist. Many of my hobbies involve hunting for artifacts (arrowheads, fossils, shark teeth) in fields or streams.
You have an irrational fear of…
Heights, and it gets worse with age. I used to be pretty fearless and now standing near glass on upper floors or rooftops of my own projects is enough to make me feel uncomfortable.
Quotation “There’s always room for Jell-O.” Joey Tribbiani on “Friends” (at least that’s what my Facebook profile from almost 20 years ago says).
movie character Will Ferrell in “Elf”.
Show to binge watch “New girl.” This show always makes me laugh. I particularly identify with the character of Jessica who composes the most ridiculous songs in everyday conversation.
weekend activity Go to Ray Hubbard Lake near our home or on our ranch property to spend time in nature.
Guilty pleasure Reality TV shows.
Snack when you travel Beef jerky.
sport Fishing and college football.
Crew My alma business, the University of Texas Longhorns.
Book “The Great Divorce”, by CS Lewis.
City to visit Spearfish Canyon, SD This is a hidden gem.