Two teams of West Virginia University students received regional recognition for their ability to synthesize design and wellness.

Two teams of senior interior design students were recognized as regional winners during judging of the 2013-14 Interior Design Educators Council Student Design Competition. The WVU entries earned honorable mentions, earning them two among a total of six awards recognized in the IDEC South Region.

The South Region represents interior design faculty and programs within nine southeastern U.S. states. Beyond awards for the top three places, three honorable mentions were given in recognition of entries “having many outstanding qualities.”

In one winning WVU design entry, Laurel Fischer of Snowshoe, W.Va., Maggie Knizat of Pittsburgh, and Alex Villaseran of Walnut Creek, Calif., demonstrated how choices that a designer makes directly af�fect work productivity, interaction, and individual wellness.

“The focus of their design was to highlight the importance of design as a profession while comparing several design options side-by-side to highlight their strengths and weaknesses,” said Ron Dulaney, Jr., assistant professor of interior design in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. “Their unique architectural proposal included a hinged exterior porch and retractable canopy that significantly expanded the footprint of the semi-trailer.”

In their winning proposal for a model office space, Bridget McGowan of Bronx, N.Y., Kathryn Petruzzo of North Wales, Pa., and Sabre Wood, of Morgantown, proposed an “innovative scheme to improve worker productivity, while bringing a natural environment into the everyday office space,” according to Dulaney.

Their scheme is based on the premise that improving worker productivity is associated with improving worker health. In addition to daylighting the interior with natural sunlight, their innovative scheme increases usable interior space by integrating “pop-outs” inspired by recreational vehicles.

Part of the challenge was a short turn-around time; the teams completed their submissions within a two week period. The design competition project was assigned as a project in Dulaney fall 2013 ID 355 Contract Interior Design 1 course.

The 2013-14 international competition, titled “Innovate to Motivate! Interior Design: Energizing People and Places,” challenged students to work in teams to transform a semi-trailer into a traveling exhibition. The competition brief urged entrants to “design an exhibit that explores the impact of the physical environment on the health of the occupants, the health of the surroundings and their relationship to each other.”

“The competition was exciting, but also really challenging,” said Fischer. “Two weeks didn’t seem like enough time to complete our project and fitting an entire exhibit to promote interior design into a basic tractor trailer seemed impossible. Luckily we were able to be creative with the space we were given and in the end it was really rewarding and fun to design an exhibit to promote our field.”

Fischer credits her team with bringing different skill sets to their design that made it unique and successful, an idea echoed by Petruzzo.

“This competition was all about collaborative team work and innovation which helped us grow as future designers,” Petruzzo said. “Sabre, Bridget and I made a great team and really worked well together.”

“We felt it was important to create a traveling exhibit that would educate the public on the importance of interior design so we came up with a side by side comparison of three important qualities: air quality, lighting, and ergonomic furniture design,” Knizat explained, adding that the competition was a chance to model the strength of WVU’s interior design program.

The strong performance of the WVU designers is something of a milestone.

“This is the first year since I have been here that we’ve had students recognized in this competition at any level,” Dulaney said. “We took two out of the top six places! This reinforces other types of evidence, like success with job placement, that our students in general are performing well in relation to their peers at other institutions.”

The competition was sponsored by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification.



CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design

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