Kayla Manio on Designing Spaces that Heal

Kayla Manio graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture from Woodbury in 2016. She is currently working as an interior architect at Clive Wilkinson Architects in Los Angeles. We caught up with Kayla and asked her about her career as a designer and how her studies at Woodbury prepared her for the profession.

Interview with Kayla Manio

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments both personally and professionally? 

My greatest accomplishments both personally and professionally definitely intertwine. Prior to studying Interior Architecture, I had studied nursing for two years. And really taking control over my own life and taking that leap with no design experience just a burning passion for architecture. Not really know if it was going to work out or not. And if I never took that leap of fate I never would have been the first interior architecture student/ first student on the west coast to have gotten into Carnegie Mellon University’s UDream Urban design and planning program, which is my greatest professional accomplishment thus far.


What advice would you give to younger alumni or current students who aspire to follow a similar career path?

Stay passionate, stay motivated, and be open to learning new things and new experiences. Everything you experience subconsciously trickles its way in your work.

What would you say to a prospective student who is considering Woodbury University?

Give it a chance. But I can promise you it will be the most rewarding investment both academically and personally. You will be amazed with much you’ve learned in such a short amount of time. And plus the professors and Woodbury are top notch so you the opportunity of picking the brains of some of the most brilliant minds.

What is your lasting impression of studying interior architecture at Woodbury?

It’s the best decision I’ve ever made! The experiences I had and the friendships I made along the way and ones I will always treasure. My studio family means everything to me- I wouldn’t be who/where I am without all of their constant love and support.

What do you like best about your current position?

I’m currently at Clive Wilkinson Architects and I’ve been fortunate to be able to work on a number of projects. And I love that I’m constantly being challenged and that every day is new and enticing-it’s far from routine.

What projects have you worked on that you’re most proud of?

My BFA thesis, it really embodies the whole reason I went into interior architecture in the first place. I’ve always been very passionate about an altruistic approach to architecture. So I had designed a memory care residence for a user with dementia and ideal even as their dementia progressed they would still be able to function with minimal help as possible. And Annie Chu who was thesis advisor- told me that thesis was all about hashing out your inner demons. And having come from nursing to architecture and constantly wondering if I had made the right decision- I designed a space that really spoke to both worlds. And finally put those “demons” to rest.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career? Did your experiences at Woodbury help you to overcome any obstacles?

I would have to say working through my insecurities- as I think many people are challenged with especially so early on. Not thinking that I know what I’m doing or if I’m doing it correctly or if I’m doing it as efficiently as possible. But Woodbuy provides you with such a solid foundation that you do leave with a good head on your shoulders- I just have to remember to trust myself.

Describe Woodbury University in 3 words.

Progressive, divergent, home.

Featured Image: Kayla Manio, Horizontal Perception Diagram


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