In design, what we make is always mediated by what we see. How we represent our ideas -- not only to others as design communication, but also to ourselves -- is an important part of our own creative process.

I am so happy to have the opportunity to chair CCA's Interior Design Program. Our design research is outlining a new identity for interior design, with expanded expertise in new areas, such as embedded technologies and responsive materials, intimate urbanisms, and interior landscapes.

Recent studios and senior projects, for example, take on the design of wall apertures that open when you walk near them, walls that light up when you touch them, and ceilings that blow soothing smells of the forest into stuffy corridors.

Urban installations, like parklets or exterior conference rooms and interior landscapes, like a museum for rock climbers, challenge conventional ideas about inside and outside.

Past Influences

I became interested in architecture because I loved to draw and build models of buildings and places that didn’t yet exist. Students at CCA are always drawing and making things; this is how designers test their ideas. Conceptual, analytical, and practical skills are necessary. Especially at the level of fundamentals, technical skills provide rigor, measure, and confidence to the beginning student.

Designers need to know how to develop and coordinate concepts, implement a design strategy, and integrate with other disciplines. The interdisciplinary breadth of CCA makes it the best place to be today to foster students who will take on positions of design leadership in the profession tomorrow.

I think this intense, but balanced focus on both concepts and skills makes every program at CCA unique in the academic field. In the Interior Design Program, our commitment to providing this unique focus within a CIDA-accredited education is exemplary.

Future Vision

My vision for the future of the Interior Design Program is grounded in my strong architectural background in education and in the profession. I am drawn to work that is meaningful -- that makes people think and even changes their awareness or just their habits.

My own research in materials and surface effects is driven by experimentation into atmospheric and architectural effects, environmental consciousness, and the integration of information technologies in building components and surfaces.

Many new materials have been introduced into the building industry, including composite materials that challenge tectonics and the nature of enclosure. Materials, methods, and processes appropriated from other industries and disciplines, and digital fabrication processes have widened the scope of innovation.

Rather than curating existing materials, there is an opportunity here to design and create your own. Understanding materials and the perceptual effects they create in space is essential to the practice of interior design -- our Interior Design faculty is so strong in this area. Members understand not only what is happening in the profession, but also how to deliver that state-of-the-art information to the students.

Building Community

The Interior Design Program has made amazing alliances with community groups and nonprofit organizations, like the Alemany Farm, Alameda Food Bank, the Dolores Housing Project, and the Sierra Club. I would like to strengthen these and find others. The value of design is corroborated by these alliances; they provide great opportunities for our students to see the real-world possibilities of this approach.

I think it is a model for how the profession should be, how innovation is promoted, how important new steps can be taken that will enhance the built environment and the way people live and work.

Bay Area Opportunities

The Bay Area is the perfect place for these kinds of initiatives. There is an openness to experimentation and great value given to design here. The cross between technology and art and environmentalism and design is a starting point in the Bay Area, rather than an end.

The intimate urbanity of a network of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations, or abandoned movie theaters throughout the city, provided the framework for award-winning projects by students and faculty (including Eric Rogers, Donghia Prize, 2012).

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CCA’s program of studios and seminars (including Advanced Interdisciplinary studios, UDIST as well as ENGAGE at CCA studios and courses) are so exciting. The fact students can build skills and expertise in their own disciplines as well as learning how to share and collaborate with other kinds of expertise at the upper levels of their education is incredible.

We are forging new territories for the field and faculty and students at CCA are leading the way.