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Three photos of rooms in Badger State Lofts and text below reads Project Spotlight Featuring Aga Artka|Badger State Lofts outdoors at dusk|Lounge in Badger State Lofts|Corridor in Badger State Lofts|Lounge in Badger State Lofts

Aga Artka on Designing a Historical Space

Aga Artka is an interior designer who believes every business has a story to tell. Her passion for branding mixes with her work as an interior designer in her projects. The result is interiors that fully tell her client’s story. Recently, she completed a large-scale project designing Badger State Lofts in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Their goal was to turn the site into an apartment community, balancing history with a modern feel. This historical preservation site was previously a tannery campus and held special significance for this community.  

Photo credit: Tricia Shay Photography

We sat down with Aga Artka to talk about this unique project.  

Over the course of a few years, Aga worked with Indiana-based KCG Development on this project, which included seven buildings. KCG specializes in repurposing sites as well as building new construction. For this project, the project team was breathing new life into a unique property. To achieve that goal, the project team wanted to keep as many of the historical elements as possible and started designing around them.

With a building so rich in history, it was important to Aga the building’s story be at the forefront of the interior design. Throughout the space, the project team needed to tell the story of the building in different ways. Each finish and material choice needed to be made intentionally to support the story. With that in mind, she designed the interiors to be sleek and modern. She wanted the apartments as well as common rooms to highlight the building’s history and not overpower the space.  

Designing a historical space is very exciting creatively.

This particular group of buildings had originally been a tannery. Therefore, they contained many unusual pieces of machinery, such as tanning barrels and presses. Whenever possible, the team saved and repurposed these unique pieces. For example, they worked with local artisans to create a large double-pane screen using dismantled tanning barrels. As is, the barrels were too large and no longer considered safe. Aga tasked the artisans with “mimicking what we just took apart to make something from scratch in an updated way.”

Photo credit: Tricia Shay Photography

When it comes to budget considerations on historical projects, Aga gets budgets from her clients before designing, so she starts her work in a realistic place. Aga is quick to point out no one needs an unlimited budget to end up with a great space. Instead, communication is vital. If everyone’s priorities are focused on getting the same idea accomplished, they can work within any budget.

Three questions she asks all her clients:

  • What’s the Why of the project?
  • What’s the schedule?
  • What’s the budget?
Photo credit: Tricia Shay Photography

When designing, Aga is always thinking about branding. A bit unusual for an interior designer, but Aga likes to work closely with the graphic designers on a project to ensure the visual elements and the architectural elements are all in sync. “The story needs to be embedded and told carefully through every angle,” Aga explained.

With every project Aga completes, she learns something new. In the case of this project, it was learning about working on a preservation project. Through this work, she got to know the history of the community and the significance this location holds for everyone.

Photo credit: Tricia Shay Photography

Aga Artka is a speaker and co-author of The Brand of You. The Ultimate Guide for an Interior Designer’s Career Journey, a book about personal branding and career development.

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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