The longtime member looks back at three decades with the association
By Elisa Fernández-Arias
Award-winning designer and author Dianne Plesset, CMKBD, Principal at D.P. Design, celebrates a 30-year milestone as a member, supporter and advocate for NKBA.
Plesset, who has been in the industry for over four decades, started her own remodeling, design and contracting firm, D.P. Design, in 1984 in her native city of Portland. Since then, she has won numerous awards, including for her book, “The Survival Guide: Home Remodeling.”
In addition to her CMKBD, and being a member of the NKBA Columbia River Chapter, Plesset is a Certified Interior Designer and Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist. She also has degrees in lighting design, kitchen and bath design, and interior design.
NKBA recently sat down with Plesset to talk about her 30 years with NKBA and how the association has made a difference in her career and her life.
NKBA: Can you tell us a bit about your time as an NKBA member?
Plesset: NKBA and I have been literally joined at the hip ever since I got into the business. The association has been the biggest influencer in my entire career. I was a student member, and when the time came for me to open my business, I transferred and became a professional member. I was also very active in my local chapter. So I’ve been with NKBA for as long as I’ve been in the industry!
NKBA: It must have felt significant, receiving your 30-year NKBA certificate. What was that like?
Plesset: The day I received the certificate was really a validation of how important my career is to me. In May, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to continue working, with chemotherapy and all of that. Opening the envelope and seeing the letter from Bill Darcy, it was a sign to me that I have to figure out how to continue doing what I do. Whether that’s designing, or writing about design. Because I love my career, and I love this industry. I’m going to continue with my passion, I won’t give it up, no matter how challenging things may get.
NKBA: Thank you for sharing that touching anecdote. It truly seems like NKBA really has had an impact on you…but specifically, how has it helped your career?
Plesset: NKBA has been the single most important thing in my design business. This is for various reasons. First, the association provides impactful certifications. Very early on, when I was still in design school, one of my teachers stressed the importance of not only getting educated, but getting certified. So as soon as I could, I studied and took the CBD examination, then the CKD examination. Then, being certified, this really set me apart from other designers.
And there’s the quality of the education itself. The one thing that really has helped me all these years is the fact that NKBA helps people become certified, and they obtain and retain certification by attending absolutely stellar ongoing classes, seminars and webinars.
NKBA: What additional benefits did you experience as an NKBA member?
Plesset: Well, there’s KBIS, of course. And the stellar publication, KBB. And these also made a huge impact on my career. This is really going back, but, in the ’80s, I was taking a seminar with Ellen Cheever — who I was fortunate enough to have as a teacher, and mentor — and it turns out one of my classmates was the editor of KBB. One day, after I presented a project for the class, she approached me, told me that if I ever had a project I felt would be a fit for print in the magazine, that I should get in touch with her. So then I did, I submitted a project for my first client at my new company. I didn’t know anything would come of it. And then, in 1986, walking into KBIS, I saw the magazine, spread all over these different countertops, with my design right there on the front! It was an unbelievable experience, especially at the very start of my career!
So there’s NKBA’s community, too, and the connections you make. It’s just wonderful that we have these opportunities that come our way, that help us climb the ladder to where we want to be in our career.