Category Archives: Student Spotlight

Q&A: 2011 IIDA Student Sustainable Design Competition Winner, Katie Goodman

In honor of the 2012 IIDA Student Sustainable Design Competition, we’ve caught up with a past winner of the competition!  In 2011, a team consisting of Katie Goodman, Liz Kahn, Jennifer Madden, and Sarah Martin, all from Drexel University won the competition for the Drexel Smarthouse.  We had a Q&A with one of the winners, Katie Goodman, and here’s what she told us about what she’s been up to since then!

Q: University Attended?

A: I graduated from DrexelUniversity in June [2012]

Q: Where do you currently work?

 A: At the moment I am looking for a job in retail design while doing some freelance work on the side.

Q: What year did you win the Student Sustainable Design Competition?

A: December 2011

Q: What was your initial reaction when you won the Student Sustainable Design competition?

A:  Upon winning the SSDC I was absolutely shocked.  I wasn’t anticipating anything at all.

Q: What inspired you to enter the competition?

A: My teammates on the project discovered the competition and thought it would be great exposure for the project and the Drexel Smarthouse as a whole.  As a member of IIDA I thought it would be a wonderful idea and fun to try our luck with a project we spent so much time and passion for.

Q: What inspired you to pursue Interior Designer? 

A: I have always been passionate about architecture and design as a whole.  I have always found myself looking at space as a three dimensional puzzle and I was drawn to Interior Design through the combination of these passions.

Q: What have you been up to since winning the competition (work, school, etc.) and tell us about that experience?

A: Since winning in December I have received my masters in interior architecture + design.  Upon graduating I took a trip to Colombia to visit a friend with an architectural/engineering company.  While there I had an unforgettable experience and a chance to learn about design and architecture in South America.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to this year’s entrants, what would it be?

A: One piece of advice I would have is to think outside the box.  Through my experiences with Drexel Smarthouse we pushed ourselves to think further outside our comfort zone and it has definitely paid off.

A plan for the Drexel Smarthouse, winner of the 2011 Student Sustainable Design Competition.

To view more photos of their winning project, click here.

It’s not too late to enter the 2012 IIDA Student Sustainable Design Competition.  Submissions are being accepted until November 15!  Click here for your entry form!  And click here to see entries that have already been submitted.

Voting begins on the last day submissions are being accepted, November 15!


Lloy Hack Essay Competition Winner Spotlight: J. Ashley Hawkins

Congratulations to J. Ashley Hawkins the winner of IIDA’s Lloy Hack Essay contest! The contest featured essays written by students reflecting on Students Mentoring Week that IIDA hosted last February. They were asked to describe their mentoring experience and how it will benefit them when pursuing a career.

Lloy Hack was an Interior Designer and IIDA member in Bostonwhose memorial fund was set up in 2002 order to assist young, aspiring Designers.   Ashley from Gwinnett Tech in Georgia won a $1000 scholarship for her essay.  She shadowed Allison Gerstung, NCIDQ, LEED AP, IIDA a Design professional at Gensler in Atlanta.  I had the opportunity to read Ashley’s essay, and ask her a few questions about her experience.

It sounds like you had a ton of exposure to design projects on your mentor day, but which one would you say stuck out above the rest?  Why was this valuable and what did you learn from it?

Ashley: Definitely the Coca-Cola project.  It’s easy to make assumptions about what the client wants and needs so it’s important to work through a design development process and communicate about every aspect of a project.  Often the most important part of that communication process is listening.

As an interior design student, what are your career goals as of now?  Are you open to many experiences or is a set concentration your goal?

Ashley:  My favorite part of design is space planning.  I am interested in commercial design and I like the idea of finding an area of specialization.  But I am open to various experiences because my ultimate goal is to enjoy a fulfilling career that suits my personality and utilizes my skills and interests.

Did your own career goals morph at all after your visit?  If so, how did they change? 

Ashley:  I had already begun looking into NCIDQ and LEED certifications but I am more committed to working toward those goals after receiving encouragement from Allison.

What would you tell a fellow Interior Design student who was unsure about the importance of a mentoring experience?

Ashley: Interior Design is a broad field and there are so many areas to learn about.  Classroom learning is important but there is no substitute for hands-on experience.  During my day at Gensler, I was exposed to types of projects that I might not learn about or participate in otherwise.

Thanks again to Ashley for taking the time to answer these questions, and to all those who took the time to participate in the competition!

Greetings from IIDA’s Newest Intern!

Hi everyone! My name is Vicky Guerrero, and I am lucky enough to be newest Communications and Marketing Intern at IIDA! In my next few months at IIDA, I really hope to gain a plethora of invaluable experience, and look forward to doing my absolute best on the job, including blogging right here!

I’m a junior at Loyola University Chicago, with a history and communications double major. Originally, I’m from the somewhat small town of Oswego, about an hour out of Chicago, and have always wanted to move to the city. I have one younger sister who is almost 15 (oh those teenage years!) and my mom and dad, who I miss dearly, but luckily they visit me often!

  My Sister and I at Christmas (i’m on the left!)

My hobbies include writing (I’m currently working on my first script), and eating, which sounds strange, but I like to incorporate it with my writing. I have a blog dedicated solely to the love of pizza, which I’ve neglected a bit lately, so I’m really hoping to show it some loving again once summer rolls around! I’m also hoping to possibly expand it to restaurants outside of pizza as well.

Being a college student, the workload can get quite brutal at times, and so for those tough school work nights, I love when they consist of baking cookies and sipping on wine with my roommates. I feel that life is all about enjoying the little things!

I’m new to the interior design field, but ready to dive in share with you what I learn along the way.  I have immense respect for the profession, and look forward to learning more about it in the coming months.

Thanks so much for reading about me, and I look forward to posting additional blog posts soon!

Top 10 Job Hunting Tips from Career Bootcamp

This year at NeoCon World’s Trade Fair in Chicago, IIDA hosted a panel presentation for students and recent graduates appropriately titled “Career Bootcamp.” The panel was a huge hit during registration, and the event sold out before anyone even got to the show. Michelle Kraker, Manager of Student Marketing and Social Media at IIDA, moderated the panel which was comprised of four designers who recently landed jobs and had agreed to share their stories, advice, and tips in front of over 150 design students at the IIDA Headquarters.

(From left to right) Michelle Kraker: IIDA, Christine Kenline: Perkins and Will, Sarah Bingham: DIRTT, Amberlee Isabella: Gensler, Michelle Carroll: Village Home Stores

Although the panel was the first student event to take place on the last day of NeoCon, it didn’t stop students from lining up an hour before the event was to begin. Once we found a spot for everyone, the questions began! Our panelists gave such incredible insight on their job search strategies and such great feedback to the audience questions that we simply had to share it.

Read on for the top 10 job hunting tips we heard at the event.

Revolutionary Student Designed Furniture at NeoCon

Although it’s only been a few days since our last post featuring student works, we wanted to share yet another collection of photos, this time from our partners at the Merchandise Mart, more specifically the Furniture Revolution Gallery from this years NeoCon.

“The idea was born out of a discussion about the status of furniture design in the United States,” says Antonio Larosa, project chair of the Furniture Revolution Gallery. “The Furniture Revolution Gallery is set up to highlight students, and young designers just out of school who have the potential to be the next great designer in America. This is unique because NeoCon is the first venue out there giving students a real chance of being seen and noticed by the major players in the design industry. ”

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Antonio Larosa, is a  Chair and Professor of the Furniture Design Department at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and is also the Project Chair of the Furniture Revolution Gallery

SCAD Student Designed works from NeoCon 2010

Almost two weeks ago we asked you for pictures of noteworthy student events or accomplishments because  we love to see how awesome our student members are!  While the response has been a little more like crickets, we did receive a few photos from one of our members from SCAD from works that were on display during NeoCon 2010.

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Keep us in the loop!  If you or your campus center has recently done something you think is noteworthy, send us a quick email or a web link and we’ll be sure to share it with our fan base.


Meet Bonnie Toland

Bonnie’s Resume

The Art Center Design College ¦

Career Objective: To work at a firm that sees design in a broad social and cultural context and that seeks to enhance the quality of the human experience.

5 words that describe design to you…

  1.    1. Empowering
  2.    2. Life changing
  3.    3. Magical 
  4.    4. Intentional
  5.    5. Metaphor

3 things you can’t live without…

  1. Play Time
  2. Dental Floss
  3. U-turns

What inspired you to be an Interior Designer?

Trying to understand what people need to function and interact well is the best puzzle and I love puzzles. Design is a concrete way to improve people’s lives. Creating and being in beautiful spaces brings me great satisfaction and joy.

What’s your dream job?

To work with a multidisciplinary and innovative design firm that focuses on public and commercial spaces. To use fantasy and fusion in my designs and make use of my multicultural background.

What kinds of projects are you passionate about working on?

Spaces that impact large numbers of people draw me, because I see them as an opportunity for positive social change. Schools, hospitals, airports, hotels, offices, and courts all present exciting design challenges.

What famous Interior Design style do you admire the most? Why?

I don’t have a favorite. I like to simplify and blend styles. I love modern Moroccan, because the underlying forms and patterns offer many possibilities for variation. I enjoy cutting to the bones of style and then playing with color and scale.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Nature is my biggest inspiration. From jelly fish to pistachios, I can always find ideas.  

How has being an IIDA Student Member benefited you?

Through IIDA, I have developed long-lasting professional relationships. I found both of my internships at firms I got to know thanks to involvment with IIDA.

What’s your favorite TV show?

I don’t have TV, but I sometimes watch the Daily Show, House, and Bones online.

Why should an employer hire you specifically? 

1. I’m a conceptual and thorough designer 2. I see design as defining and transformational  3. I communicate and listen well 4. I work well with others, love presenting, and love people. 

Where can you be found?



As the current “HIRE ME” recipient, Bonnie will be featured this month to over 13,000 IIDA Professional and Industry Members. This is including, but not limited to, the Design Matters blog, professional e-newsletter, the official IIDA website and thousands of Industry Professionals across IIDA Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

For consideration in the next “HIRE ME” feature,
please submit this form along with a resume and a headshot
to Shannon at