DALLAS—When working on a project, Looney & Associates believes in collaboration to create award-winning hospitality design and architecture. It also takes collaboration to its charitable work.
The interior design firm sought to make a difference in the lives of students at Dallas Independent School District (DISD), which is the second largest school district in Texas and the sixteenth largest in the United States.
“DISD has been a struggling district for quite some time, with many schools in need of renovation and some even closing due to the city’s revitalization efforts and new developments,” said Jim Looney, owner and president, Looney & Associates. “These schools are a part of our city’s history, but unfortunately, the city is unable to fund the needed renovations. In collaboration with our numerous vendors, we had the capability and resources to change that.”
The team at Looney & Associates chose to focus their talent and resources on a giveback project at W.W. Bushman Elementary School within DISD and reached out to collaborators for support. Indiewalls was one of them. The company has a platform that enables designers, interior decorators and business owners to find the right art for any project. Co-founder Ari Grazi was eager to help.
“The moment we heard from Looney & Associates with regard to the community initiative, we knew we wanted to get involved,” said Grazi. “The request for artwork made us think of both printed images and murals, which seemed especially relevant for a school. Our marketing and curatorial teams worked together to quickly put together proposals, come up with sizing and push the project forward. It was important to our team to get all pieces complete before the end of the year as a gesture to the school and to welcome the new year.”
The team at Looney & Associates was mobilized to take action after reading an article in the local paper about how some schools were in need of washers and dryers.
“Most of the students (and their families) simply couldn’t afford to wash their clothes; we knew this was something we could provide,” said Looney. “It had never dawned on me that something as simple as that—clean clothes—could have such a great impact on a child’s life, especially their performance in school.”
The firm reached out to the district and were put in contact with Tom Hayden, manager of volunteer and partnership services for DISD, and began discussions of how Looney & Associates could enhance these schools’ environments through interior design and other basic needs.
“Our collaboration with DISD impacted us greatly, so in 2017, we knew we wanted to see how we could continue to help,” said Looney.
The goal for the project was to enrich the educational experience. Looney quoted a proverb to describe the initiative: “It is better to give than to receive.”
Looney added, “While there are some quantitative goals, like donating a certain number of school supplies, most of the goals are qualitative. Studies show that art and design influence children’s education and well-being. It’s hard to put a number on that, but we hope that we can make a difference in these children’s lives using our expertise and design community.”
Similarly minded, Indiewalls’ Grazi noted that the company is always looking for new and creative ways to give back.
“We believe in the power of leveraging community to provide opportunities and growth. These efforts are continuously evolving,” said Grazi. “It was truly inspiring to hear that the work resonated with the children and inspired them.”
For both companies, having the opportunity to touch the lives of children was meaningful. For Looney, every moment was memorable.
“To interact with young children, to perhaps even inspire them, but above all, impact their lives in a way that may not have seemed possible to them, makes these community projects very meaningful,” said Looney.
Grazi added, “The muralist, Sanah Brown, was able to engage kids in the creation of her work. Receiving pictures from her and learning about the positive impact her presence had on the school will remain a highlight of our work.”
What’s next? The charitable work continues for Looney & Associates as it’s a part of the company’s DNA. “Good work and good works is something we believe in,” said Looney. “We often take for granted how much art and design can influence and perhaps motivate the youngest among us. We will continue to look for opportunities and industry collaborators like Indiewalls to support the education of children in our community.”
At Indiewalls, the team is open to new opportunities to give back. “We are in the process of aligning ourselves with a few community-oriented events during the year,” concluded Grazi.