by KRISTEN SENZ
When Allyson Powell embarks on a commercial design project, she likes to fully immerse herself.
Burning sage sticks to clear old energy, she camps out alone in the space, sometimes for days, she explains. Unlike other designers who visit to take pictures and measurements, Powell says, she wants the location to feel like home as her creative vision takes shape.
“I talk about energy a lot because it’s so important,” says Powell, who blends the principles of feng shui with an urban sensibility.
Powell’s company, Third Eye Design, has created the interiors for the new Yogi’s, Feta Kitchen, Soul Juice, and La Una Cantina, among others. “We’re not Pinterest designers,” she says of her team, which includes Rachel Berg, Kara Koch, Samira Naderpoor, and Cassandra Jernberg. “We’re creatives, and the way we work is very different.”
Third Eye Design, which will open an office on 6th Street later this year, participates actively in bringing its designs to life, sourcing materials, fabricating, and overseeing every element during construction, notes Powell. Their designs extend beyond décor to logos, menus, and waitstaff attire to create a holistic look and brand for each customer, Powell says.
“If I take you on as a client, you’re going to get my whole heart, and we’ll go back to the drawing board as many times as it takes for you to love it,” she says.
Kalao, a new 12,600-square-foot Latin American restaurant and nightclub on North Walnut, exemplifies Third Eye’s aesthetic, which Powell describes as bold, unexpected, and provocative. Selfie spots and unique customer experiences, such as a table surrounded by swings instead of chairs, are integral to Third Eye Design’s work.
A mother of two young children, Powell, who hails from Newburgh, Indiana, spent her first eight years as an interior designer working primarily with residential clients alongside her former husband, a custom home builder. About a year ago, she rebranded her business to pursue hospitality clients.
“I want to make Bloomington a destination and create things here that you can’t find anywhere,” she says. “We’re transforming downtown right now.”