Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
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Student Story: Eye on Design Around the World

John Uzee got his Master’s in Architecture from Tulane University in New Orleans. He spent 27 unique and successful years with ADD Inc, a architecture, interior design, planning, and branding firm; he even starting the firm’s branding wing himself! Ever since he retired from ADD Inc, he has given many guest lectures at UW Madison. When he is not helping UW students, he travels the world, not only to admire the beauty, but to take notes with a design eye.

On November 30, 2017, SoHE’s Design Leadership Symposium class was honored to host the inspiring, kind, and wise man. Many years of hard work has paid off for John as he now is lucky to navigate the globe with his time, and, consequently, stay in many hotels. From all his design work, he began to note which hotels stood out the most. He found that many hotels can blur together, different names, same designs; these hotels were meant to simply house a traveler, not be a destination. However, John showed us the ways a hotel can become an experience on its own. John argues that when a hotel includes the culture around it, has a big welcome, but small receptions, is ultra social, has exclusive experiences, and, most importantly, when it tells a story, it transforms the the stay into an adventure of its own. These were hotels that knew good design.

One automatically wants a career in design after they hear this presentation, but really we cannot forget how John got to be retired and still love his line of work at such a young age. He still went to college, searched for jobs, and balanced all the other factors of life, while never giving up and always putting his best effort into all that he did to get where he is. John reminded us that you do not get a career for the money, you follow your dreams and what you love and the rest is sure to come. He has had many accomplishments in his lifetime, yet he modestly remarks that he has just been fortunate, and constantly provides mentorship and inspiration to others that he had received when he was starting out. His creative intrigue never rests, and his frequent visits to our campus are a small example of the large impact he makes spreading the appreciation and knowledge of the design world.

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