Humble beginnings: The interior design institute is a tiny, unassuming organization in downtown Houston, a place where young designers are learning the trade of interior design.
But now, it’s being transformed into the flagship interior design program at the University of Houston, where the students are trying to reimagine an entire industry.
The students are aiming to reimagine the interior design industry and redefine what a design studio actually is.
The new institute will be housed in a building that once housed the University’s Institute for the Study of Human Ecology, and it will be one of the first such institutions in the country.
“It’s going to be an educational center for design and it’s going of course to be a learning center for designers and interior designers,” said James Strain, who co-founded the institute and will lead the students as they take over the center in the coming months.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for design students to become involved in the broader design community, to really take the opportunity to build something that is going to change the way design is done.”
Inside the institute will live a new breed of design student: designers with an eye toward the bigger picture and an understanding of what a creative studio is all about.
The institute is hoping that by putting students in the hands of industry leaders and influencers, it will help create a more diverse industry.
“What we are trying for is not just a one-off design studio, but we are creating an architecture of design,” said Michael McPherson, a design professor at the university.
“This is a place for designers to meet and talk about what it means to be interior design and also how that might impact the design profession in general.”
The students plan to incorporate a diverse range of industry experts and personalities, including: Michael J. Strain – the founder and principal of the institute, who has designed homes and offices in Paris and Washington, D.C. Stravaganza – a well-known architecture professor at George Washington University.
He is currently working on an interiors design for a private residence that will be built on the site of the UH Center for the Performing Arts.
“We want to make sure that students are not just going to get a good design education, but they are also really being engaged in a design practice,” McPhersons office manager, Rachel Tapp, said.
“When you are working with an architect, they are really interested in the design, but there are also a lot of people who want to do something with their own design.
So we are looking for someone who is really a part of the architecture community, who is able to make that happen.”
Tapp said that the students will be collaborating with design studios from across the country and will have the option to participate in the academy itself.
“Our students have always been interested in how we can create a shared culture of design and architecture and to really connect them to that world,” McSorley said.
The institutes curriculum will include classes like: How to create and build a modern design studio.
How to manage the space.
How and when to change a space.
“Design studios are so important because they create the environment for the next generation of designers to come and make their mark,” McPhail said.
A new school of thought is emerging for interior design The institute will also host an internship program, and students will participate in an intensive design design course taught by design professors and experienced professionals.
Tapp believes that the program will help the institute become a model for other institutions.
“At this point, the Institute is the first one that has a campus where students can come in and work directly with a faculty member,” she said.
Students will be required to have at least one internship per semester and the institute plans to hire up to 25 students for the course each year.
“They can work on any design project that they choose, and they can even work on projects that they do not choose, but those projects can then be used in their final project,” Tapp explained.
The interns will be offered the chance to learn from industry professionals like Robert E. Lee and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Students are expected to work in conjunction with the institute’s faculty to produce and distribute their designs.
TApp believes that this new model of interior designers will be a powerful development in the interior decorating industry.
“[The students] will be doing the design in the building that the institute is located in, which is very different from the studio that you would work in a studio,” she added.
“And that will create a much more inclusive environment where students will get to work with other design students in a way that has never happened before.”
The institute has been looking to get into the interior architecture industry for a while.
A few years ago, the institute partnered with the architecture school to produce an internship for two interior designers.
“A few years after that,