Reimagining the Fire & Police Pension Office Space 

The Elsy team recently had the pleasure of working with the Fire & Police Pension Association (FPPA) to relocate their office space to 7979 E Tufts. The Fire & Police Pension Association is an organization that provides pension and disability benefits to Colorado firefighters and police officers.

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Teaching the Next Generation of Interior Designers 

The Elsy Studios team

Teaching the Next Generation of Interior Designers

The Elsy Studios team

At Elsy Studios and throughout my career, I have had the privilege of mentoring many young professionals and rising leaders in interior design. This past fall, I had the incredible opportunity to take on a whole new kind of teaching role, this time at CU Denver as a lecturer and curriculum advisor for the CU Denver, College of Architecture and Planning (CAP).  

After collaborating with the CAP program’s Dean Nan Ellin, PhD and fellow leaders in the commercial interior design industry, I began teaching Drawing for Interiors. This class was a combined undergraduate and graduate course offering taken by CAP students studying fields such as architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture. 

As much as I hope to have provided lasting knowledge and impactful experiences for my students, through this experience, I found myself taking away nearly as many lessons as I imparted.  

Design Matters 

For years, many have looked at interior design as a luxury market, when, fundamentally good interior design is something that can and should be more broadly accessible. This means more people need to receive the benefit of proper training. This is one major reason I was so inspired to teach Drawing for Interiors. I wanted to teach the students that no matter what market you’re in, design matters. 

Practical Application in Curriculum Matters 

Creating the curriculum for this class was one of the most rewarding aspects of my teaching experience. I was given the freedom to write the curriculum myself, which allowed me to teach in a pragmatic way. Practical applications in curriculum create better results and better designs. 

  • Teaching the fundamentals: 
    Today, most interior design and architecture students’ design on their computers with state-of-the-art design programs, rather than drawing by hand, which is how many of us in the industry today learned. However, there will be circumstances as an interior designer where you may not be able to lean on your computer to show clients a design, which is why I wanted to go back to the basics and teach my students the fundamentals of drawing. One of the projects that allowed me to really teach them the importance of free-hand drawing was the fruit and vegetable exercise.  

    From those who were just beginning in interior design to those who were obtaining a doctorate in landscape design, I had my students draw a floor plan, elevation, and section of a fruit or vegetable. This allowed me to access the student freehand drawing skillset. Drawing organic objects can be more difficult, and I did find I had varied skill levels in my class. This was only a start to them creating their own freehand style of drawing out interiors.  

  • The Power of Public Speaking Skills  
    Just because our job isn’t always in the public eye doesn’t mean that interior designers don’t need strong communications and public speaking skills. In fact, these skills can be vital in our careers. Interior designers need to have the ability to compellingly and articulately present to their clients and speak clearly and confidently about their designs. To teach my students this critical skill, after each project, I had them present their reflections in front of the entire class. This exercise helped build their public speaking skills, created opportunities to receive constructive criticism, and gave them tools they would need to apply it to their next drawing and presentation.  

  • Bringing in Real Interior Design Experiences: 
    During this teaching experience, I was able to bring my students along on real design projects, bring in guest lecturers, and take them on field trips in order to fully immerse them in the world of interior design. It was extremely important to me to keep my students thoroughly engaged, which is why we visited places like the Optiv building, furniture showrooms, mid-century modern homes, and even the Elsy office. Not only was this an exciting opportunity for me, but it was an opportunity for our entire team to get involved and hone our ability to educate the next generation. 

Embracing Change Matters 

While my time teaching at CU Denver has taught me many things, the biggest takeaway from my experience is that despite how much the world of design has changed (and it has changed dramatically), there is no substitute for fundamental skills. Although there was a learning curve in teaching my students to shift their mindsets from relying on computers for most things to being confident enough to create hand-drawn designs, it was amazing to see this modern group of students at work.   

This was such a diverse group – most of whom have never seen or worked in commercial interior design, so it was such a fun and challenging experience for me to discover where they were and to meet them there on their journey. Having a class filled with students who have completely different levels of experience taught me how every varying perspective and attitude toward design matters immensely.  

While design itself evolves over time, the fundamentals that create both good design – and good designers – transcends time. We as design professionals and educators have an obligation to empower future generations through proper training and education. The future of our built environments depends on it.  

Recent Posts

Reimagining the Fire & Police Pension Office Space 

The Elsy team recently had the pleasure of working with the Fire & Police Pension Association (FPPA) to relocate their…

Teaching the Next Generation of Interior Designers 

Teaching the Next Generation of Interior Designers At Elsy Studios and throughout my career, I have had the privilege of…

2022 Prêt-à-Porter Recap

IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Prêt-à-Porter is the ultimate convergence of architecture, design, and fashion. This year, the Elsy team had…

Recent Projects

2022 Prêt-à-Porter Recap

The Elsy Studios team at Pret-a-Porter

IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Prêt-à-Porter is the ultimate convergence of architecture, design, and fashion. This year, the Elsy team had the opportunity to participate in partnership with Haworth and Pear Workplace Solutions on the design and creation of a ready-to-wear garment inspired by BIPOC/LGBTQIA+ creators.

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SSR Mining

SSR Mining

With an asset portfolio that spans from Turkey to Argentina, SSR Mining Inc. is a leading, free cash flow focused intermediate gold company headquartered in Denver. They wanted their office space to reflect their stature as a global company.

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project team

Elsy Studios – Interior Design

Task PM – Project Management

CBRE – Broker

Adolfson & Peterson Construction – GC

Projex – Furniture


Based in Denver, Innovest is an independent provider of investment-related consulting services for retirement plans, nonprofits, families, individuals, and family offices. The firm’s culture is defined by their mission of stewardship and their emphasis on hiring and developing high-character, talented professionals. These values come to life in their office space.

Elsy’s first project with Innovest was more than a decade ago with a refresh of their 10,000 square foot former office space. Ten years later, Innovest has matured as a firm and wanted their new 20,000 square foot office space, located at 7979 E Tufts Ave. in the Denver Tech Center, to reflect their best-in-class financial and investment service offerings while creating a sense of togetherness for their tight-knit team.

Reflective of their streamlined approach to business, the space incorporates clean lines and neutrals throughout. Elements of Innovest’s logo – a triangle representative of the stock market’s cycles – are found throughout the space, from ceiling elements to the kitchen island. Similarly, wood slats in the conference room are carried through to the reception resembling a bar graph much like those that depict financial trends.

It was important for Innovest to have a space that accommodates visits from investors while attracting and retaining top talent. Two seating areas welcome guests and serve as informal meeting areas. The large conference room doors open to make way for open houses and office celebrations.

In the office space, natural light pours in through tall framed-glass office fronts. Day-to-day mentoring takes place in the collaborative bullpen areas, where an open ceiling adds a sense of dimension and space. The team’s rituals – including regularly eating lunch together and their annual “Crocktober” crockpot cookoff – called for a breakroom and kitchen area that accommodates 30+ team members at one time.

The clean, simple, bright design of the space captures Innovest’s no-nonsense approach to business that is balanced by the firm’s culture of togetherness.

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photos of the NGL space


project specs

865 N Albion St

40,000 SF

Tenant Improvement

Industry: Energy


Executing the design of a new 40,000 SF office in the middle of a pandemic was no small feat, but between our team and the pros at NGL Energy Partners, we pulled off a fresh, modern space for their employees to return to in 2021. NGL was moving from their offices in Cherry Creek and taking over three floors in the new 9th and Colorado development. They wanted each floor to reflect their high-end, sophisticated aesthetic without ever becoming stuffy.  

The biggest challenge in the design of this space was the long, narrow floorplate. For maximum functionality, offices were placed at the perimeter, but that left us with a skinny corridor that ran the expanse of the floor. To keep the space from feeling like a tunnel, we created interest and a sense of movement in the ceiling in the form of wood-look baffles that lend an undulating effect and a warmth to the otherwise exposed ceiling.

A timeless, neutral color palette makes for a soothing and cohesive experience across the three floors with differentiated color and pattern treatments as you exit each elevator to support wayfinding. NGL was thrilled to give their employees an updated and modern space to come back to, and we are proud to have supported a smooth transition to an inspiring space after a trying year.

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Next Level Details

an athlete pushing a weighted sled at Next Level

When you step into a space that has been purposefully designed to embody a brand’s values, you may not immediately spot the difference – but you can feel it. Our space for Next Level is a great example.

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Get to Know Associate Carmen (Schechinger) Mielke

Carmen feature image

Here at Elsy, we’re proud to have a close-knit team that’s in it for the long haul, and Carmen has been with us since the beginning in 2012. She’s celebrating a well-earned promotion to Associate, so we thought it was the perfect time to help our clients and friends get to know her a little better.

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