Interior Design Student Arianna Navarro Draws on Background in Culinary Arts To Pursue Restaurant Design
Arianna Navarro grew up just north of Los Angeles and attended La Cañada High School while working in her family’s bakery. She pursued professional training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York, and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts Management in 2014. Now in the Interior Design Program at FIDM, she said her current career goal is to "be on a team that builds a really thoughtful bakery, restaurant, or coffee shop."
"I fell in love with the hospitality industry very young and enjoyed helping out on the weekends and after school. When I decided to go to school for formal training, I had already been working full time for a handful of years but I wanted to learn the science of baking. I wanted to understand what I was doing and learn new techniques. My career goal then was just to go to school and come back home to continue working with my family.”
However, things did not go according to plan. She realized pretty quickly after starting school that she wanted more experience before heading back to the family business, and pursued a number of different opportunities, including an internship with the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen and a position at an international bakery outpost in New York before landing back in Los Angeles. “I continued working with my family in bakery operations, but the pandemic brought another career transition and I eventually landed on a team where I got to test and help redesign our packaging. We made the boxes easier to open with a few tweaks to the structure. Working on that level of detail was so exciting to me, and I loved being able to make a positive impact with those changes. I got curious to learn more and how to apply that to a bakery layout."
That realization led Arianna to FIDM, to pursue an A.A., Professional Designation, in Interior Design, with a planned graduation in December of this year. We caught up with her to learn more.
How did you decide on your major? I have always loved architecture, houses, and seeing the finishes inside of the places I visit and restaurants I try, so when I considered how to merge that with my work experience and passion for the food industry, studying interior design made sense.
Why did you choose FIDM? When I decided to look into going back to school, I knew I wanted to go to a specialized school with a strong professional network because it was something I loved about my previous college experience. A family friend and alumna recommended FIDM, and I knew of the school's strong reputation. I was excited about what I could learn here and how it could help me in the future.
What are your career goals? After graduation, I hope to join an architectural firm that builds hospitality spaces so I can be part of teams who build more thoughtful restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops. I think my previous experience will bring a new perspective to a design team, and allow us to create spaces that consider efficient workflow, food safety, and ease of use. I don't know where my career will take me long term, but I am very excited to keep learning and growing. I can't wait to see what the future holds.
What have been some of your favorite classes or class projects you’ve worked on so far? I really enjoyed my Color and Design Theory class with Professor Blaine Anderson. The class taught me beyond the basics of color theory and crossed over into personal growth. I really enjoyed learning about color saturation. Mixing colors after that project completely changed and I feel much more confident as an artist. We were also encouraged to lean into our creativity and our intuition, and that led to really therapeutic experiences while painting, which was a more personal highlight of the class for me. Overall, it felt like one of those great classes with one of those great teachers that impacts your life in a big way.
Anything else you’d like to share? My department head, Dina Morgan, recommended to our class at orientation that we create Instagram pages for our design work so we can build our online portfolio and presence. I have been really loving using the app to explore art and innovation from around the world, so I would really appreciate any follow recommendations from my fellow schoolmates @arianna.n_design