Q&A Session with Asia Coffee

From beautifully decorated cakes to cupcakes to confections of all imaginings, Asia Coffee—a registered interior designer at Schmidt Associates—is just as sweet as the beautiful creations she makes. Below, we take a few minutes to get to know her.



Tell me about your background.
I was born and raised in Indy. In high school, I had a growing interest in art, so I enrolled into a special art Program at Broad Ripple High School. From there, I went to art school for a year in Chicago, where I met my future husband. I moved back to Indy and started the Interior Design program at IUPUI.

With such an interest in art, what inspires you?
I love the elements and principles of design—color, texture, composition … I also love to look at other people’s work and stay current with trends on social media.

And your family?
My husband, William, and I have four sons—David, 13; William Jr., 10; Benjamin, 3; and our newest ,Elliot. We don’t have any pets (yet). William keeps talking about getting a dog, but we haven’t taken the plunge.

How did you get into cake decorating?
Several years back, I took a few classes and really enjoyed it. The instructor asked me if I had ever thought about teaching, but I didn’t think much of it. Instead, I started doing cakes on the side for family and friends. Not long after, I decided to fill out that application to teach. Now, I teach cake decorating at several stores around Indianapolis and decorate cakes as a side business. I have an Instagram account—“mrs.coffeescakes”—if you would like to see some of my work.

Do you feel like your two worlds—interior design and cake decorating—intersect at all?
I feel like because I teach, it carries over into my interior design world when having to do Owner presentations. The crazy thing is that I am up in front of people teaching nearly every weekend, but I still get nervous doing presentations for work. I can’t figure it out!

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
I have sat on the board of IIDA (International Interior Design Association, Indiana Chapter) for four years now. When the current president took office, she took a quote from the person who nominated you about why they enjoy working with you. I keep that at my desk to remind me to keep doing my best.

And, just for fun, what is your favorite food on Mass Ave?
Ohhhh, I love The Eagle. They have a chicken sandwich that is amazing. Boneless chicken, coleslaw, and pickle. It is magnificent!


So when that sweet tooth hits or you want to see some of the latest trends in the industry, feel free to come by. Asia would love to chat with you!


Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia Brant, Liam KeeslingSayo Adesiyakan, and Ben Bain


NeoCon 2017 Update

NeoCon is a chance to see new products, immerse yourself in each showrooms’ unique design, mingle with other designers, and bring back inspiration for our clients. Whether it be ideas for comfortable, collaborative office breakout spaces or a twist on a traditional textile, this event showcases everything you could dream of as a designer. Consider it a small slice of a interior designer’s paradise!

With about one million ideas to take away from NeoCon, let’s hear from our team about a few of their favorite design trends from this year…

Liam Keesling

My favorite trends seen throughout the furniture showrooms were the combination of solid textiles and exposed wood frame construction in many of the side chairs and lounge furniture pieces. The furniture appeared lightweight but well-crafted, using interlocking joints that were celebrated rather than disguised or hidden. My favorite part of the craftsmanship was the natural wood finish used to see the beautiful grain.


Asia Coffee

I was really excited to see the Tandus/Centiva/Johnsonite showroom! This was their first year in a larger, more prominent showroom on one of the main floors of the Merchandise Mart. It was a fantastic space for them to display the wide variety of flooring options that they offer (i.e. carpet, luxury vinyl tile, rubber tile). I was especially impressed with the digital imaging capabilities that were showcased. They can take any image or photo and not only print it onto luxury vinyl tile but wall base as well! This capability allows us to be more creative in the ways we can bring an Owner’s brand into the design of their space.


Laura Hardin

I find myself trying to remember all of the carpet, textile, wall covering designs, and new furniture trends. But what I typically am in search of is unique glass design. I don’t get a chance to specify this product often but I do find it fascinating on the inspiration and overall design created for decorative glass. Skyline Glass doesn’t disappoint, this year’s glass designed by Suzanne Tick won two NeoCon gold awards. Two patterns in particular caught my eye, Diffuse & Disperse as they are simple and timeless with the ability to layer and scale to a design for the perfect fit into a project. I look forward to the official release of these new patterns as well as the other new exciting products we saw.

The Tenant Build-Out Design Process

Tenant improvement/build-out projects occur when a commercial real estate agency works with a building owner to lease an entire building or a suite within a building. When a prospective tenant wants to lease a space, their space needs could vary widely, but they typically need:

  • Additional Restrooms
  • Private Offices
  • Accommodations for additional technology
  • Interior Finishes to match their company’s brand, and
  • A furniture plan showing accommodations of existing furniture that will be reused


Before permit drawings can commence, a designer must create a preliminary space plan from the prospective tenant’s program. The designer must also take in account the BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) standards for properly measuring and calculating square footages. This preliminary space usually becomes an attachment to the tenant’s lease agreement after it’s approved. Once the lease agreement is signed by both parties, the proposed preliminary space plan quickly becomes the basis for the construction drawings. A few minor revisions are possible at the point in the project, but the majority of the new plan remains as is.

For example, a drawing set for a project under 2,500 SF can be as minimal as 5-pages consisting of a:

  • Demolition plan
  • New construction plan
  • Power and reflected ceiling plan
  • Mechanical plan
  • Elevations (usually of new casework and windows)
  • Schedules (i.e. room finish schedule and door schedule)
  • Details (i.e. wall sections)


The commercial real estate firm usually works closely with a contractor to manage construction costs from the very beginning of the project; with this information also being included in the lease agreement signed by the tenant. Usually the building owner agrees to pay for some construction expenses, and the tenant pays for other items such as special equipment or furniture. The permit drawing set only needs to show basic placement of mechanical and electrical components with general notes for these trades to engineer the project as needed. Interior finish materials are indicated in the drawing set, but specific manufacturers, patterns and colors are not required for the permit set. Furniture is typically shown for reference and to rationalize placement of electrical and data outlets.

Once the construction drawings are complete, they must be stamped by a registered architect and submitted to the authority having jurisdiction. When a project exceeds 100 SF of new construction, it must be submitted to the state for approval. When it comes to tenant improvement and build-out projects, speed and efficiency are invaluable. In many cases, the time frame for drawing completion could be as brief as two weeks.

While the drawings are being reviewed, the interior designer can assist the tenant with fine details. We can work with the them to select furniture as well as recommend furniture dealerships to help with procurement. Interior finishes can vary widely, but we can also work with the tenant to brand their new space and add any special touches with consideration to the overall project budget!

One example of how Schmidt Associates designs spaces that are specifically tailored to a unique brand