Credit St. Pancras International and Miranda Crowe for the interior design of the new Venice library. Miranda Crowe isn’t the designer; her sister Nicole is. And it was on a family trip to Europe that Nicole, a high school student,encountered St. Pancras,the terminus for the Eurostar rail line that connects England with the continent and that changed her career path.St. Pancras has a Gothic exterior (think Notre-Dame de Paris or St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York) that transitions into a more modern interior. Nicole had been considering a career in photography but the interior of the building was a “Wow!” she said,and she started thinking about architecture or interior design instead. Miranda would decide study architecture,at Savannah College of Art and Design. First,though, she visited Ringling College of Art &Design, in Sarasota, with Nicole in tow from their home in Boston.Nicole fell in love with Ringling and decided it’s where she wanted to go to school even before she knew what she wanted to study.It turned out to be interior design because “Like the interior exposure,”she said.So, thanks to experiencing St. Pancras and then Ringling, courtesy of Miranda, she was in the right place at the right time to take on the interior design of the new library.It’s her first professional project.
The term “interior design” might conjure up an image of picking out rugs and throw pillows,but that’s more the purview of an interior decorator. A designer will also be involved in the aesthetics of a room,but interior design is a licensed profession that deals more with spatial planning and functionality and then with the specifics of what goes in the space.The college curriculum includes learning a variety of computer design programs as well as the history of design,how to read construction documents and the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act.In Florida, Nicole said,it takes three exams to get licensed. She's working on that, so even though she has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in interior design she’s not yet allowed to call herself an interior designer. Her business card reads: “Project Designer.” She holds that position with Sweet Sparkman Architects, the firm she interned for while at Ringling, including during her senior year in lieu of a thesis. She was hired after graduating in May of 2017.
Building the wall
By the time she began work on the library project,the interior spaces were already defined, so Nicole’s initial task was to optimize their use for library purposes.While the exterior has the Northern Italian architectural features city planner John Nolen favored, the interior was always to be more modern. There are two nods to Nolen, however.The main one is a large mosaic compass rose — about 10 feet in diameter — taken from Nolen’s plan for Venice in the 1920s, facing true north. It will be placed in the center of the library,under a skylight.Nicole said she was already familiar with Nolen and Venice when she started on the project because her grandfather owned a house here and was a snowbird.“I’m very excited about the compass rose,” she said.The second connection to Nolen is a copy of his plan itself,screened onto the glass wall of the Friends of the Library bookstore,on the left as you enter the library.Opposite it will be another focal point — a donor recognition wall,with the names of major contributors displayed on the wood veneer panels that make up the wall.“The people who donated the money are literally part of the wall,”she said.
Most of her work has been more library-oriented,however — consulting with library staff about where stacks should be located and conceptualizing the placement of furniture before it had been chosen, for example.“If it’s not functional,it’s kind of pointless,” she said.It also involved picking color schemes and fabric choices that would look good and give the library a cohesive feel but stand up to wear and tear.Sharp-eyed library patrons will notice that the porcelain tile in the loggia at the main entrance extends inside and appears in the outdoor reading garden. The pattern in the ironwork there is mimicked in other locations inside.The children’s area will have a blue theme because it’s a calming color, Nicole said: blue in the carpet, a blue counter with a blue and white “penny-round” backsplash, a wall with blue lettering that looks like finger paint.The young adult area will have a similar wall but with characters, in lilac, the theme color.The adult collection will have a neutral carpet with red accents and orange chairs near the reading garden. The conference room will have the same carpet.Library manager Ann Hall gave Nicole’s choices her seal of approval at a community update