R. Thomas (Tom) Gunkelman began his design career in 1963 with the purchase of Black Interiors in Fargo, ND and renamed it Gunkelmans, Ltd. In 1976 Tom changed the name to Gunkelmans Interior Design and relocated the business to Minneapolis, MN where he remained for 35 years until his passing in 2011. In 2011, Karen McKay, his long time associate, took over Gunkelmans Interior Design name and the business remains in the Minneapolis area.
Tom was an icon in the design industry, winning numerous ASID awards and was recognized locally and nationally. His projects were in publications such as House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Decorating and Trends. He was named "Top 100 Designers in America" for three years by House Beautiful. He was also named "Top 50 Designers" by Elements of Living magazine and in 2009 the Star Tribune named him "Dean of Design".
He ran a successful design business on the basis of these principles; good design, quality product and always excellent customer service. His philosophy was "You have to be passionate about design to be a good designer - to live and breathe it 24 hours of the day. If you don't it is just a hobby". It was a philosophy he ingrained in those who worked for him and today Karen and her team carry on that tradition.