KAI Design & Build Hosts Informative Panel Discussion on Infusing Art into Corporate Design Projects


The Interior Design Team at KAI Design & Build, in conjunction with ARCH Design Artwork & Framing, held a panel-style discussion, Art in Design – Session 1, on May 30 at the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being in an effort to bridge the gap between the artist studio and corporate decision-makers.

How do we evoke an emotional response in the physical space? Art is emotion reflected on the walls. Art is personal and evokes emotion. Art can convey a company’s values and build on the architecture. Art can express ownership of a space and the activities that take place around it. Art can make employees more productive, and even encourage customers to buy. Art in design has numerous benefits, according to the panel.

The free event provided the local art community with a platform for discussion and networking with the St. Louis region’s corporate decision-makers and presented fresh ideas on the importance of infusing local art into design projects. The event also showcased the unique architectural design and artwork featured in the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being located at 1000 North Vandeventer in the Grand Center Arts District of St. Louis City. KAI designed and built the facility, which was completed in December 2017.

“As artists, we have found it more difficult to break into conversations with companies regarding budgets for design projects, frankly because artists are generally more focused on their work’s inspiration than negotiating contracts,” said Kennedy Yanko, a New York-based artist and Art Director at KAI. “Our goal through this panel discussion was to open the dialogue between the local art community and corporations so that both parties can experience all of the benefits that art in interior design has to offer.”

KAI President Michael Kennedy, Jr. moderated the panel discussion, which included the following panelists:

  • Cbabi Bayoc, St. Louis-based artist and illustrator. Bayoc is an artist who has always known and lived his calling to create art which reflects his love of music and family. Bayoc created a mural at the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being that features influential children of the civil rights movement and young people throughout the world who have championed children’s rights.
  • Kennedy Yanko, New York-based artist and Art Director at KAI. Yanko is a painter-sculptor based in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She works in wood, metal, marble and acrylic, exposing dualities of juxtaposing these elements. Her multi-media genre showcases materials’ natural tendencies and encourages their innate modes of expression.
  • Asha PerezInterior Designer at KAI. Perez is a progressive design professional with current experience working with an interdisciplinary firm. Fueled by an industry she calls an “art-form,” she is innovative and passionate about everything design — color, texture, furniture, lighting and art — having the ability to breathe life into any space.
  • Bill McCuen, Design Director at KAI. Over his 35-year career, McCuen has led design efforts for a broad array of projects from an embassy in Yemen to a world headquarters for the Defense Logistics Agency, from one-room schools in Afghanistan to the master plan for Riverplace – the civic heart of Greenville South Carolina. He has consistently focused on contextually sensitive and sustainable design and urban development.
  • Levi Buck, Director of Business Development at ARCH Design Artwork & Framing. Buck has been involved in hundreds of artwork programs throughout his time with ARCH, spanning acute care facilities, corporate environments, hospitality and senior living. He has served as project manager on complex projects, including Dignity Health System’s Built Environment Improvement Program, consisting of over 3,000 pieces of artwork.
  • Connie Wetmore, Senior Art Consultant at ARCH Design Artwork & Framing. Wetmore has been contributing to the design and management of high-end art programs in hospitality, healthcare, corporate and residential spaces since 2001. She excels in conceptualizing unique, client-driven designs and installations. Clients depend on her knowledge for specific art placement and exceptional eye for color to communicate their vision.

Topics discussed by the panel included:

  • How to budget for interior design and art
  • Why companies should invest in art for their spaces
  • The importance of art in interior design
  • Determining what art is appropriate for what space
  • How to select an artist for a project
  • The importance of including art in public spaces
  • Connecting with the local art community on projects

The audience also toured the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being and attended presentations by McCuen and Bayoc on their inspirations behind the building’s design and unique artwork.

For more information about Art in Design – Session 1 and future sessions, contact Asha Perez at aperez@kai-db.com or 314-241-8188.

About KAI Design & Build

KAI Design & Build is a national 100+ person design and build firm headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. A renowned leader in the industry, KAI provides design and build integrated project delivery solutions through collaboration, technology, processes and expertise. Since its inception in 1980, KAI has been instrumental in reshaping the urban environment through its expertise in housing, K-12 schools, transit facilities, collegiate structures, commercial buildings, sports and recreational facilities, government/justice centers and healthcare buildings. For more information about KAI Design & Build, visit www.kai-db.com or call 314-241-8188.

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