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Meet Scott Ross Steffes, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED Green Associate

Scott is a Senior Interior Designer at Shepley whose creativity and passion for design is infectious. Scott’s motivation behind design is fueled by his ability to positively impact people through thoughtful design and mentorship, continually seeking new ways to shape and support the next generation of designers.  

Learn more about Scott and his approach to designing aesthetic, functional spaces that stand the test of time. 

Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?   

I joke sometimes that I picked my career out of thin air – after high school, I didn’t feel like college was the right path for me at the time, instead, I began working in another industry, where I spent the first ten years of my professional career. When the company was later sold, I decided to part ways and evaluate the next steps I wanted to take in life. It was a recession, and it wasn’t until someone suggested interior design as a potential career path that I began to consider it. I was targeting something art-related but had no prior knowledge of design or architecture. Fairly quickly after beginning my bachelor’s degree here in Arizona, I realized the path was looking like an excellent fit for me. I was learning primarily from industry professionals and loved the balance of using both the right brain and the left brain.  

After graduation, I spent six years growing and getting to know the role at another local architectural firm; joining Shepley in 2018 where I feel like I have blossomed and sharpened my purpose and role thanks to my peers, the culture, and our entrepreneurial attitude.  When I look back, I sometimes feel like I just stumbled into this career, but I am so grateful for the steps that created this opportunity. 

How do you approach projects? 

Each project is absolutely unique, so I try to approach each with an open and curious mind, asking as many questions as possible to gain a deeper understanding of our clients and their needs. You can’t be complacent; I try to find unique challenges with each new opportunity, ensuring that I am engaged, and can creatively work towards the team’s shared goals. Continuing to be flexible throughout the design process and really digging into each project allows me to help our team put all the pieces together in a way that results in a successful design solution. 

What motivates you the most? 

My biggest motivation is the ability to positively impact people through mentorship. As a mentor, nothing is more rewarding than seeing a peer or mentee grow, succeed, and find their path. It’s exhilarating to pass along my experiences and knowledge, helping to play a role in shaping and supporting the next generation of designers.  It never ceases to amaze me how talented my colleagues, peers, and students coming into this field are. Creativity is all around me and it is so infectious.  

Outside of your work at Shepley, are there communities or groups you’re involved in?  

 I’ve provided mentorship to students at Arizona State University for over ten years, helping to critique, review, and provide guidance as they navigate their degree in design. I am also a member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), where I’m involved with supporting events and programs, such as their national Mentorship Program. This yearly event connects students and IIDA members for a series of mentoring sessions as an opportunity to inspire emerging designers. I’ve enjoyed being a mentor for these programs over the years as it’s rewarding and exciting to work with students as they navigate the complexities of interior design. 

What do you do for fun in your spare time?  

My spare time is usually family oriented. I have two young daughters, and my wife and I try to soak up every moment with them we can. Whether we’re going to the park, playing games, swimming in the pool, or searching for shells and shark teeth on a beach vacation, we just love the time. I am also a music lover – in my younger life, I attended a wide variety of concerts. Today, my passion for music is indulged by listening to music as often as possible, introducing my daughters to new bands, and singing with them in the car. 

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