Going Home

By Nicole L. Fransen, LEED AP, Allied Member ASID, Design Assistant

Can one go home again?  Metaphorically, the question was still tumbling round in my head, but physically, I was losing confidence by the second as I struggled to find parking at Savannah College of Art and Design’s Eichberg Hall in downtownSavannahon finals week.  How quickly I had forgotten the challenges of being a student in this tourist-driven town. 

I had been invited to my alma mater as a guest critic for Professor Margo Jones’ Interior Design Studio V final critique.  Four years of architectural history lectures, building codes research, and design charettes had come down to this day of reckoning for the students.  There was a high probability tears would flow today, as their passion filled projects were offered up for constructive advice from those of us working in the field. 

What I have always loved about interior design is not the glamour, but the foundation of humanistic enrichment that it presents to society.  Our job is to improve the daily quality of life for people; from accessible use of a commercial space, to increased work production through better functionality, to improved health through sustainably conscious material selections, and yes, even to an elevated mood of the public through aesthetics.  Designers are, most specifically, focused on the well being of people.   SCAD fostered this philosophy in me, but the budgets and time constraints of real world projects threaten its vitality daily.

I loved that these students weren’t excited about their design as much as they were excited about what their design did for people.  There were designs for music education, trauma therapy, and foreign language emersion to name a few.  Though the students were allowed to formulate their own subjects for these final projects, they took time to thoroughly research their perspective clients and users of the intended spaces.  The interiors were developed out of this knowledge, and thoughtfully applied through concepts, sketches, technical drawings, building modeling, renderings, materials selections, and visual presentation boards.  One student, who had never been to Shreveport, Louisiana, beamed with enthusiasm as she told the story of the area’s rich culture and resilient people for which she designed a cultural arts center.  Her enthusiasm for the people ofShreveporthad infected her project and honored them with a building that showcased and educated the public on their heritage.

I came back expecting to offer a realistic perspective on what I anticipated to be very idealistic designs.  What I had forgotten was how energizing idealism can be!  SCAD’s interiors program grounds this idealism by imparting a philosophy of community responsibility into its students.  One can, and should go home often.  You never know what you might learn about where you are right now.

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