Lisbeth Jimenez Featured in Building Enclosure's Spotlight on Women in the AEC Industry

MKDA’s Lisbeth Jimenez was recently recognized for her significant impact as a woman in the AEC industry by Building Enclosure. In addition to her role as Senior Project Designer at MKDA, Lisbeth is Co-Chair of IIDA NY’s Design Camp. Her love of art and drive to problem solve help her bring new perspective to each of her projects. Learn more about Lisbeth through her feature, below:

Name: Lisbeth Jimenez, ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ, WELL AP
Firm: MKDA
Title: Senior Project Designer

How did you get started in the AEC Industry?
My journey as an interior designer started from my passion for the arts, being a creative thinker, and wanting to make an impact. Growing up, I always thought I was going to pursue fine arts but I realized I wanted my “art” to be truly immersive and reachable in a way that changes people’s lives. My clients are my subjects and my projects are my masterpieces, each unique on its own, but all crafted to make a positive impact in their lives and the world around them.

What inspires you to design?
My motivation comes from the reason I’m an interior designer. I know I can make a difference, and that is truly what powers me to solve every puzzle and challenge that comes my way. You won’t see me browsing through other projects to find inspiration or something such as “nature.” The main driver is always the issues at hand and my inspiration is always to get to my goal, to solve the problem with impact in mind. My client’s spaces are beautiful primarily because they are what they need to be to make their lives better.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in our industry?
I have faced many challenges as a human, and I am a woman. But I cannot say or judge that I faced them because I am a woman or whether it has anything to do with our industry specifically.

What do female designers bring to the table?
Perspective. For example, we can tell someone the importance of having a sanitary napkin receptacle to dispose of things only women need to deal with in restrooms. We understand what it would mean to not have one provided. You would be surprised how many restrooms out there expect women (or are oblivious that they would need to) to walk out with their used tampons because they put a sign “don’t flush anything other than toilet paper” and don’t bother putting a trash can for people to throw out “anything else.” We are beings of different sex, equity is important in design. We have to understand demographics and our client’s needs so that we can fully design for them. That said, we either have to collaborate with opposite-sex designers/personnel/ our clients (whoever they are) and/or research to know.

Who have your role models been?
My role models have all been mentors. My former Japanese professor at Kuniko Minakawa pushed me and inspired me to teach and mentor others. Another former professor, and current chair of the Interior Design Department at FIT, now a dear friend and colleague Carmita Sanchez-Fong, whose selfless actions set a tone in my career early on as a student with an understanding of the bigger impact designers can make. To this date, I still do pro bono interior design because of the lessons I learned and the compassion I learned to have towards my clients even those who can’t afford to pay me. Lastly, my taekwondo instructor, whom I referred to as “Sir,” taught me about conditioning the mind, balance, and respecting the different angles and challenges life brings for all.

What advice would you give women just entering the industry?
Embrace industries dominated by the opposite sex, leveraging your unique perspective as an asset. Walk away from rooms where your presence is merely for diversity’s sake and invest your time where your contributions genuinely shape a better future. Also, I would encourage them to get involved in an industry association that would help the next generation of designers. I volunteer for the International Interior Design Association’s New York Chapter and serve as Co- Chair of Design Camp. Our mission is to make design and our industry of interior design understandable and accessible to all students, with a focus on grades K through 12. We’ve worked with hundreds of students from a broad range of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, offering access to design, not only as a possible career path but also as an educational and therapeutic experience.

Tell us about some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on…
I’ve cherished working with all my clients, each presenting unique challenges to solve. If I had to pick a highlight, it would be designing Newsday’s headquarters. Having developed a close relationship with them while working in their former office, I intimately understood their challenges. The subsequent opportunity to design their new space felt transformative and personal, as the process resonated deeply with my own experiences, emphasizing the value of truly understanding our clients for more effective design. I’m presently engaged in a captivating project, designing the office space for another A&D firm (with a focus distinct from commercial corporate environments). While I’m unable to disclose details at this stage, the experience is immensely gratifying. Designing furniture and a space tailored for fostering collaboration, drafting, and creativity has added an extra layer of enjoyment, especially given the shared professional focus with the client.