Western Carolina University – ICA and Interior Design Program collaborate on the redesign of the ICA Lounge

ica interior design
Interior design students submitted their designs for the renovations to the Intercultural Affairs Hall.

By Brooklyn Brown

Intercultural Affairs recently teamed up with the Interior Design Club to redesign the lounge.

ICA’s Administrative Support Coordinator, Karen Kemeneker, had begun considering a redesign of the ICA Lounge earlier in the year. I reached out to her friend and colleague Erin Adams, associate professor and interior design program coordinator, for a consultation.

Adams suggested that rather than lead the remodeling, she could supervise the interior design students in designing the new space. Kimenker took the idea a step further and proposed a competition among Adams’ students.

Professor Erin Adams
Erin Adams (right), assistant professor of interior design, looks on as her students present their designs to members of the Department of Intercultural Affairs.

With the semester already under way, Adams knew that doing a new semester project wouldn’t be possible, so she approached her students with a volunteer-based project. The Interior Design Club coordinated a pitch competition and club president Abigail Jolly suggested that student teams bring together volunteer sophomores, juniors, and seniors from Adams’ interior design classes to submit designs.

“To have this collaboration across organizations created opportunities to break down these barriers and potentially encourage more collaboration for other departments and communities across campus,” said Kimenker.

Adams was impressed by the desire of the interior design students to present a thoughtful and coherent design for the ICA Hall on an entirely voluntary basis.

“I am constantly amazed at how much they really exceed my expectations and I think they surprise themselves sometimes too,” said Adams.

“This is definitely the most satisfying thing to see as a teacher. That’s why we teach—so we can see our students start out at one level and amaze us by climbing, rising to the level of pros.”

The Intercultural Affairs students were impressed by how well the design teams listened to their wants and needs.

On Wednesday, April 19, the teams put forward their ideas for the new hall to ICA students, staff, and council members. Prior to their bids, the teams met with students and staff at the ICA to discuss their specific requests and learn about the space.

“Each of the different designers listened to us and implemented that in their design,” said David Chandler, sophomore in Film and Television Production and Principal Assistant to the ICA Council. “We ultimately chose the first place team because they seemed to know ICA is a great collaborative space and their design worked really well for us.”

Kelly Mallard
Kelly Mallard was part of the first place team.

Miquela Santiago, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice and chair of social media for the ICA Council, noted that the event was a great example of the positives of campus collaboration. “The collaboration was beneficial for both parties because we interacted and tested the skills and talents of the interior design students, and they were also welcomed to a new space on campus to come to in the future,” said Santiago.

The competition was a close, one-vote race between the ICA board, staff, and students. The winning team included Anna Schruns, Kelly Mallard, Lauren Polerno and Leslie Smith, who recently participated in another design competition on the international stage. Although the first place team won the overall layout, the ICA also wants to include elements from the second and third place teams in the final redesign.

“Before we pitched, I really felt our design would give them what they needed,” said Paulino, a sophomore in interior design. “I was hoping they would choose our spot not just to win, but because I wanted them to have a space that really works for them.”

Lauren Koster
Lauren Koster

The runner-up team, made up of Lauren Koster and Amanda Gianda, incorporated cabinets to provide convenient and attractive storage surrounding the TV, both of which were requested by ICA.

“I had never worked with a real client before. This opportunity helped me figure out what I was going to do next once I graduated,” said Koster, a sophomore majoring in interior design.

The third place team, which included Paulina Prisjaniuk, Bailey Redman, Sydney Tarter, Lea Quinn, Alexandra Sellers, and Taylor Miner, implemented a rolling white canvas into their design, which would provide variety to the various study and meeting spaces in the ICA Lounge.

“It’s rewarding to know that a piece of our design will be integrated into their space,” said Redman, a sophomore majoring in interior design.

Lea Quinn and Taylor Minor
Leah Quinn (left) and Taylor Minor present their design in third place.

“I just want to thank the ICA for the opportunity to include us and allow us to learn from this experience,” said Quinn, a sophomore majoring in interior design.

This fall, students will be able to see the brand new ICA Lounge with a custom design from the Interior Design students.

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