Michelle Blunk says it all starts with a conversation. What are your personal tastes? What do you hope to achieve? How comfortable are you with thinking out of the box? What is your budget? Those important conversations go on daily at the two companies that Michelle leads – Conceptual Designs Inc. and WITHIN. A passion for design excellence, innovation and detail mark Michelle’s style. She brings years of experience and savvy in residential and commercial design to her companies and sees them in a symbiotic relationship. “Every commercial client lives in a home; every person has a residence who either works, shops or plays in a business.” Her focus on customer expectations and satisfaction is backed by research and market trips to the places where trends have their roots. “We pride ourselves on a design staff who are experts. We have all of the talent you need to design all your projects,” she says. Michelle, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Iowa State University, also believes in giving back to the community. She returns to ISU annually to meet and mentor the next generation of designers and is a founder of the Women’s Downtown Bettendorf Task Force.
Architect Angie Streckenbach takes pride in her understanding of what clients want in their professional spaces. That understanding comes from her strength as a listener. “It’s something I’m pretty proud of, the way I work with people,” says Angie, whose degree in architecture is from
the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “I love understanding people. I like to make sure everyone is happy with the end product. I want to understand what they’re using the space for, what they’re doing.” Her fascination with architecture was nurtured as a fifth-grader when an architect visited her class, and she then got to design her first dream home, with crayons. She views herself as a problem-solver, one who puts the pieces of the puzzle together to provide the perfect solution for a new house, a new building or a new work space.
Liz Bruesch has a passion for interior design and for creating spaces that people want to work in, live in and play in. She admits to always having been “artsy and craftsy,” and those talents extend to painting, crocheting, ceramics, silkscreen, printing and woodworking. “I just like taking things and making them better than what they are,” she said. The graduate of Harrington College of Design in Chicago says she is not afraid of color and pattern. “Most people are. I usually try to push, get people out of their comfort zone a little bit,” she said, but emphasizes, “We try to achieve their vision.” Examples of her creative work can be seen at the Genesis HealthPlex in west Davenport, Jewell Tool in Davenport, and also showcased at the new Coffee Hound and Cheesy Cow restaurants in Bettendorf. Lyla Mae, Conceptual Designs’ “director of morale” (see profile below) is happy to call Liz’s bungalow home. Liz is particularly fond of her sun porch, a cozy and comfortable spot “with light all around.”
Leah Lux brings an eclectic set of interests to her position as a designer for Conceptual Designs. Her personal residence reflects her interests in photography and music, which includes framed works from concerts she has attended, ranging from artists like Foreigner and Boston to Kip Moore. Leah smiles as she says, “I like the simple things in life. I’m kind of an old soul.” She is a proud Cyclone, having graduated from Iowa State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Of her career choice, she says “I felt where I was supposed to be, and it was a really good feeling.” Leah describes her design style as transitional, incorporating neutral palettes with accents of color. The native of Manchester, Iowa, finds joy in curating options for her clients and having important conversations on their interests and styles to achieve perfection in their work and living spaces.
Christine Elliott can’t help but smile when she talks about her job as brand manager for Conceptual Designs Inc. As the person whose job it is to promote the projects designed and executed by a talented team of designers whom she calls “a really dynamic group,” Christine is able to use many of the talents she has developed since graduating with a degree in visual communications. Photography and graphic design are among the skills she uses to put the CDI brand out to the public. “I’ve always been creative and appreciated creativity,” the native of Aledo, Illinois, says. That blends perfectly with her experience in marketing and her attention to detail. The bottom line for Christine is her enthusiasm about communicating the CDI message. “I am really inspired by the people here, and am excited about being able to communicate their message.”
Lyla Mae visits Conceptual Designs Inc. regularly to quality check our designers’ work for the “cool” factor. Her role also includes boosting our spirits with her playful energy and the occasional case of the “zoomies.” Lyla keeps us focused on the most important tasks which include constant demands for belly rubs.