Reanna Rieman

Not by Design

Reanna Rieman, ’04, didn’t study interior design at UND, but she finds her degree in fine arts translates well to a job she loves.

A UND alumna who was a popular waitress in Grand Forks during her time at UND now helps to shape design tastes in southwestern Florida. After spending more than a decade as an interior designer in Naples, Florida, Reanna (Dixon) Rieman, ’04, recently took a job as a sales representative for a trio of furniture and art companies.

“I help individual designers like I was in the past, but then I also work with furniture stores themselves,” said Reanna of her new job. “Rather than designing for individual homes, I’m helping stores decide what they need to put on their floors to sell.”

Reanna was working in a restaurant in Naples in 2008 when the owners of a design studio convinced her to join their firm. Reanna says even though she was “terrified at first,” she started reading catalogs and learning everything she could about furniture and design styles.

Reanna says her fine arts degree from UND helped her adapt to the world of interior design. Furniture construction reminds her of lessons in how to frame art, textiles classes help her now in working with rug fabrics, and in drawing and painting courses she learned about color, scale and proportion. “I use that stuff every single day,” said Reanna. “If you had asked me then if this was how I was going to be using it, I would have never been able to imagine that, but so much of what I learned at UND applies to interior design.

“It was just moving my head around a little bit and rearranging. It was a natural fit for me. I was never a fantastic production artist; I took too long because I’m a perfectionist. I couldn’t rapidly produce things like some of my peers could. But I was always very good at curation, arranging things together.”

Reanna grew up in Belcourt, North Dakota, where her parents, Derrick and Kathy Dixon, are longtime high school teachers. She thought at one point she’d pursue a master’s degree in art and become a teacher as well. But after waitressing at the North Dakota Museum of Art Café and Lola’s in Grand Forks to put herself through school, she continued to work in high-end restaurants and did some modeling work in the Twin Cities. After she and her husband decided to move to Florida, she stayed in the hospitality industry until being recruited to become an interior designer.

While her art degree has proven valuable in her career, so has her time as a waitress. “You have to be personable and presentable, well-spoken and knowledgeable about food preparation. Now, I have to be able to sell myself and speak intelligently about the products I’m selling.”

Reanna says the average person may not realize just how much goes into being an interior designer. She says reality television may have warped the reality of what designers do.

“I think some shows make it seem so fast and easy, but it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of product knowledge.”