Alumni Spotlight: Denise Colestock Tamez

June 10, 2024 | Alumni News

Design Institute (DI) alumna, Denise Colestock Tamez, did not always know what she wanted to do in life, she just knew she wanted to somehow make a difference in the world.  

Originally that led her down the path of obtaining a degree in political science and working in Washington D.C.. When Tamez realized she did not love climbing The Hill, she decided to change paths completely, moved back to San Diego, and enrolled at DI.  

While at DI, Tamez found herself wondering how an interior design degree could help her make a difference in the world someday. She was then introduced to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and realized design is integral to sustainability.  

Tamez immediately made it her goal to graduate from DI with not only her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design degree but also with her LEED AP certification. She met her goal and went on to also obtain her WELL Building Standard Faculty credential after graduation.  

Coming up on her 10th anniversary at the global manufacturing company, Milliken & Company, Tamez is, in fact, saving the world. Milliken is dedicated to being a leader in the textile and design industry when it comes to sustainability and being carbon neutral.   

Tamez uses her background in interior design to give her a leg up in her position as a Senior Account Manager. Unlike most of her colleagues in sales, Tamez is knowledgeable not only about the products, but also about how to incorporate them into the overall design. She works with the design team to pitch ideas. This has helped her win the business of multiple projects, including the San Diego Convention Center and the Southwest Terminal at the Atlanta Airport.  

She has also been the keynote speaker at design conferences, has sat on multiple panels, and has been an Adjunct Faculty Instructor of Sustainable Design and Materials. Tamez is saving the world by dedicating her career to leadership, advocacy, and education in the sustainable design industry.    

“I would not be where I am today without my time at DI,” noted Tamez.  

When asked what advice she has for DI students, she said the following, “Go after it hard, because there are a million interior designers in our industry and the ones that succeed go hard. They volunteer for positions on the board of IIDA or ASID or CREW or NAIOP. They engulf themselves in the industry outside of their position and that’s such a huge deal in San Diego. San Diego is small – smaller than anyone would ever believe – and the more you engulf yourself in this industry, the more you’ll learn that… You need to go after it from day one.” 

At DI, we are committed to helping you turn your passion into a career. Our mission is to prepare students for rewarding careers in interior design, and we are thrilled to see our alumni enriching the interior design profession, the environment, and the communities they work in.