Eight-hour competition stresses designers’ planning and first instincts

Shauna Stottsberry

Lyndsey Zgela, left, and her partner Brooke Breiner, both senior interior design students, work on a rendering of a conceptual office space during a design competition Friday. The competition, held in the studio in the Gym Annex, gave teams of senior inte

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Eight teams of senior interior design students put their skills to the test Friday when they participated in an eight-hour design charette.

Each team was challenged to design a prototypical work environment that would accommodate, as well as motivate and inspire, employees of a hypothetical workplace. The challenge forced students to use creativity and imagination to create spaces that would encourage effective working relationships between employees.

“The competition is based on designing spaces for multi-generational users,” said Pamela Evans, interior design program coordinator and former president of the Interior Design Educators Council.

Designers had to consider differences in size, physical abilities and languages of all users who would potentially use the work space.

Last semester, participants read When Generations Collide, a book intended to help them understand the characteristics of four generational groups and how those groups utilize different spaces. The four groups included Traditionalists, born between 1900 and 1945; Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964; Generation Xers, born between 1965 and 1980; and Millennials, born after 1980.

Each member of the team was then asked to write a short report explaining what kind of workplace would best suit each particular generation.

“Doing that helped us quickly brainstorm what we needed to design,” said competition participant Melanie Stevenson of the reports.

Jennifer Filipczak, Stevenson’s teammate, said, “We took our experiences in different work atmospheres and tried to figure out what an advertising agency would need. We tried to figure out what would inspire an ad agency’s employees.”

Planning proved to be the most difficult part of the project for Stevenson and Filipczak’s team.

“Planning is what takes all the work,” Filipczak said. “It’s easier and quicker to put the design together when you have a concrete plan.”

Sarah Liptak, member of another design team, said the competition would certainly help her deal with pressure in future designing situations.

“It’s always a good idea to have a competition because sometimes you get stuck in a rut, but with this you have to think immediately and, it forces you to go with your first instinct,” she said.

Three local professionals will come today to judge each team’s finished design.

“The three that are selected by the jury are put forward to the regional competition held in Detroit.” Evans said.

From there, winning projects go to a national competition in Scottsdale, Ariz., where they will be judged at the 2006 Interior Design Educators Council Conference. The winning designers will receive a $1,500 prize.

Contact College of Architecture and Environmental Design and School of Art reporter Shauna Stottsberry at [email protected].