September Professional Member of the Month

Kristen Greteman

Octagon Center for the Arts, Exhibits Director


We often design to improve the health of people and the environment; how do you wind down in the evenings to maintain a balanced lifestyle?

As a freelance contractor and small business owner, work continues after my day job ends and time to wind down in the evenings does not often happen. Instead after several months hard work, I plan long-term travel to refocus and gain new perspective. Right now, I am planning a 5-week road trip to Alaska next summer, as well as a quick week to Cuba in January.


In 2017 technology is at our fingertips - what is your favorite app and/or website?

Resistant to the idea of Pinterest for years, I gave it a shot last year and fell in love. No creative person is totally uninfluenced by all the ideas swirling around them. I decided to embrace the collaboration between myself and all the other pinners out there and found Pinterest as a great tool to collect and organize ideas in one simple-to-use spot.

As professionals we are versed in community interaction and collaboration; what are you involved in outside the realm of architecture/design?

Creativity through art is my way to contribute to my community. I am a photographer and printmaker, and my most recent series has focused on land use and mapmaking in Iowa. I have exhibited around central Iowa, including the Des Moines Arts Festival, and I am a teaching artist for the After School Arts Program in Des Moines.

We are Iowa Women in Architecture; who were the women that inspired you?

The classroom of my high school English teacher, Ms. Kerwin, was a magical place. The décor was a combination of posters of exotic locations, an array of house plants, and anything to do with Pride and Prejudice.  She instilled in me a love of learning, and even after I moved onto college, I would return each break to chat about life. For small-town Iowa, she bucked all trends and lived her life on her terms while always showing care and compassion.