Laura McDonald Stewart
Laura McDonald Stewart is the woman behind the curtain. She’s the Founder, a Registered Interior Designer, and a Connector of people, and below you can find out way more than you probably wanted to know:
Laura grew up in rural West Texas obsessively playing with Lincoln Logs and Legos, poring over her mother’s issues of Architectural Digest and designing her dream house on 8.5×11 inch grid paper. Not understanding the opportunities available in the architecture and interior design world at the time, she pursued her left-brain love of math and science by enrolling in the civil engineering program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. During her senior year of college Laura realized her personality and long-term interests weren’t exactly suited to the engineering field, so she enthusiastically returned to her childhood pursuits after graduation. Office temp by day, she spent nights developing a portfolio and writing application essays, and she was soon headed to Georgia to take up residence in historic, charming and idiosyncratic Savannah.
Laura thoroughly enjoyed her graduate school experience at the Savannah College of Art and Design, applying the same problem-solving skills to her design classes that she had to her engineering curriculum. Within 2-1/2 years she earned her MFA in Interior Design and was ready to embark on a career in the design industry in her beloved Dallas, which, luckily, is one of the country’s leading design centers.
After a great deal of networking, Laura landed a position at Furstenwerth + Bagley Design. The tight-knit firm proved a solid match for her desire to immerse herself in all aspects and phases of a project. The firm’s focus was also a good fit: a limited number of high-end residential projects with a breadth of commercial projects ranging from corporate headquarters, law offices, call centers, training centers, and tenant development work, as well as small hotels and private dormitories.
Laura contently weathered the ups and downs of the fickle design industry at F+BD until the 7-year itch set in, and she found herself concentrating more and more on her “extracurricular” activities – namely The Susan G. Komen Foundation For Breast Cancer Research, Kitchen Dog Theater, Uptown Dallas, Zeta Tau Alpha, etc. – in order to keep herself inspired.
Although it was a tough decision to strike out on her own, Laura is happily following in the footsteps of her entrepreneurial family with the goal of combining her love of design, education, writing, networking and marketing. The concept for her online venture arose from personal experiences, consistent misconceptions, and a black hole of candid, unifying and non-intimidating information about the diverse profession of interior design.
THANK YOU to the following superstars who helped get PLiNTH & CHiNTZ off the ground:
- Ramir Camu, the calmest computer guy in the world
- Rob Wilson, graphic designer and partner in world domination
- Lee Blankenship Emmert, photographer to the stars
- Amy Johnson Hawken, stylist / contributor / comedienne
- Sheryl Breze, lifelong drinking partner and contributor
- James Ledoux, funny man and contributor
- Ken Knight, Mr. Inspiration
- Joey Stewart, the nicest / hottest / sweetest boy in the world
- Craig & Ann McDonald, the most supportive parents a girl could have
- Eric McDonald, the coolest Big Bro a Little Sister could have
Other ways Laura supports the interior design industry:
Laura currently sits on two interior design department advisory councils (The Art Institute of Dallas and Texas Christian University), was the recipient of the 2009 NCIDQ National Louis S. Tregre Award, and previously served as an ASID Texas Chapter President, a member of the ASID Chapter Support Team, and an ASID National Board Member At-Large. Laura also manages and promotes METROCON Expo & Conference, the Dallas-based annual interior design trade show that takes place annually in August. To find a full list of Laura’s industry activities in the present, past and future, click here.
Other ways Laura spends her time:
Laura loves to entertain friends, travel to foreign countries, mix and enjoy her own cocktails, eat delicious food her husband prepares, read contemporary novels, listen to podcasts, weed her winning low water-use garden, and play with her two cats. She and her husband are also actively involved in leading the Dallas Chapter of the International Wine & Food Society.