MHTN Professional Spotlight: Karen Cahoon

Here at MHTN, we strive to make our client's vision a reality. We want to recognize those who make this possible by highlighting our talented team members.

Celebrating her second year with MHTN, Karen Cahoon has a passion for learning about all the different aspects of this profession. We asked her to tell us a little bit about herself.

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?

I grew up in Salt Lake City in the Highland Park District where I lived until I got married and moved to California. My parents were kind, hardworking and interested in education. I had two older sisters that were almost in College when I was in Kindergarten. They were always educational mentors for me even though they were both Business Majors. 

Highland High School opened when I was in eighth grade. It was very exciting to attend such a beautiful new school. The architecture was very different than any of the other high schools in Salt Lake City. After I graduated from Highland, I attended the University of Utah where I was initially going to Major in French. I admired Jacqueline Kennedy when I was young and was hoping to eventually attend the Sorbonne in Paris. But, when I took a Basic Design Class in the Art Department and started learning about Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Florence Knoll and Harry Bertoia, I was totally intrigued and changed my Major to Art and never made it to the Sorbonne. When I graduated, I married a Navy Officer. We lived in Coronado, Sunnyvale, and then moved to Los Angeles, California where my husband attended Art Center College of Design and became a photographer. I was an Art and Children’s Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library and obtained a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Southern California. While in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to see and hear many of the people in Design that I had studied at the University of Utah (Charles and Ray Eames, Bruce Burdick, Bill Lear). We were also able to witness the construction of the Pacific Design Center and were invited to the first introduction of the Herman Miller Panel system with fabrics by Alexander Girard. It was a very exciting and innovative time.

When did you first know you wanted to work in architecture?

Early in my life I became aware of the Construction Industry. My father worked for a concrete company enjoyed talking about new buildings and he had many friends who were Contractors. My mother was interested in redecorating, so I spent many hours as a child traveling with her to furniture stores. As a result, I think I became interested in Architecture, Construction and Interior Design at an early age. That interest grew as I attended college, lived in California, and traveled.

What are you passionate about and how does that intersect with your job?

I have read that sometimes when there is a dramatic change in a person’s life, they have the courage to change course and pursue something they have always been interested in. When my son was two years old, we moved back to Salt Lake City and I decided to pursue Interior Design as a career. At that time, I returned to the University of Utah and got a degree in Interior Design. This also required taking Basic Design, Graphics, Materials, and fourth year design in the Architecture School. I also had the opportunity to take a summer class from Massimo Vignelli at Harvard. Every second of my design education was enjoyable.

Since then, I have worked in many capacities in the Interior Design Field and have enjoyed learning different aspects of this profession (interior design, sales, manufacturing). I am thrilled to be working at MHTN as an Interior Designer with so many talented and diverse people. From the “Thought for the Day” in the morning, to interesting clients and challenging projects, it is a very pleasant experience.

What are some interesting things about you? What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

I enjoy spending time with my, son Clay and daughter in law Rosie, they are both rock climbers and travel the world pursuing their interest. It is fun tracking their agenda. They are also very good cooks and I am the benefactor on many occasions. My husband is also an excellent cook,  so I’m very fortunate with food. I also love being with friends in Salt Lake and from my days in California. I have always said that my true fortune in life has been the wonderful family I have and people that I have met along the way. I am very grateful for my “Design Passion” because it has led me to many of those people.