ReDesign.School Roundtable: Interior Design / In partnership with local ASID and IIDA / 06.05.18

As part of our effort to engage stakeholders in our ReDesign.School discussion, we held our first local roundtable on April 24th, 2018 focused on our Interior Design/Interior Architecture programs. We partnered with our local chapters of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Arizona North Chapter and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Southwest Chapter to convene a discussion with local practitioners around our redesign questions. We were hosted by Gensler at their local office in Downtown Phoenix. What follows is an overview of the discussion.


James Bailey – Gensler

Kelly Bauer – richärd+bauer
Designer + Principal

Diane Bender – The Design School at ASU
Associate Professor, Interior Design

Jose Bernardi – The Design School at ASU
Associate Professor, Interior Design Program Head

Jewell Blair – Jay B Designs

Sonja Bochart – Shepley Bulfinch

Cheyne Brown – Corgan
Interior Design Project Manager

Lori Brunner – The Design School at ASU
Assistant Professor, Interior Design

Megan Duffy – DLR Group
Senior Interior Designer

Anne Elizabeth Hamilton – Knoll
Sales Consultant

Beth Harmon-Vaughan – Gensler
Principal, Director- Phoenix Office

Danielle Hensley – Office of University Architect at ASU
Project Coordinator- Space Planning, IIDA Southwest Chapter President

Melissa Holm – Gensler
Design Director

Aileen Montelongo – DBSI
Interior Designer, IIDA Southwest Chapter VP of Advocacy

Dede Radford – Dunn-Edwards Paints
Design Services Professional

Karín Santiago – Lightvox Studio

Brie Smith – The Design School at ASU
Instructor, Interior Design

Milagros Zingoni – The Design School at ASU
Assistant Professor, Interior Design

After introductions, a warm-up exercise kicked off the evening, with participants writing down their answers to the question, “Where is design going?” 


Where is design going?

Post-it note exercise – Full Group

Kelly Bauer, Brie Smith, Beth Harmon-Vaughan and Megan Duffy await their turn for the sticky note exercise.

Cheyne Brown

  • Tailored solutions
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Document control

Dawn Hart

  • Design matters to everyone
  • Design is not static, it is always changing
  • Design is everywhere!

Milagros Zingoni

  • Design for all- thinking globally!
  • Design should improve society
  • Cross-disciplines- measurable and collaborative

Dede Radford

  • Global
  • Totally “green”
  • Always colorful!

Kelly Bauer

  • Research
  • Accountability for our designs
  • Modular construction

Brie Smith

  • Hyper informed clients
  • Personally adapt and create
  • Design is cyclical- constantly growing from older information

Anne Elizabeth Hamilton

  • Systems thinking/interrelational
  • Partnership- opportunities for entities of all sorts to join together to solve problems
  • Multi-disciplinary

Diane Bender

  • Blurred boundaries between disciplines
  • Research, evidence-based design
  • 24/7- technology makes us work all the time
  • Social media

Aileen Montelongo

  • Design should have universal access to everyone
  • Design should be agnostic
  • Design should be practical

Jose Bernardi

  • Empower the powerless
  • Transform society
  • Create quality of life

Jewell Blair

  • Accessible to all populations
  • Small; maintenance-free
  • Everything we do needs to be practical!

James Bailey

  • Compact
  • Relationship driven
  • Experience- less about the form

Beth Harmon-Vaughan

  • Designing for experience; experiences are memories, and memories come from our senses
  • Research-based design; understanding how humans interact with our built environment
  • Diverse populations, global scale, experiences, etc.

Sonja Bochart

  • Regenerative design
  • Health- human and ecological
  • Systems-thinking
  • Breaking down silos

Lori Brunner

  • Faster solutions
  • Workers need for flexible skillsets
  • Thinking globally AND locally concurrently

Danielle Hensley

  • Thinking collaboratively
  • FAST
  • Casual spaces

Megan Duffy

  • Research-based
  • VR, interactive, design-build scenarios

Ben Ayers

  • Personal- balancing knowledge of self vs. your client
  • Designing at all scales
  • Problem solving- having empathy, anticipating problems before they arise

Overall impressions from the sticky note exercise:

  • Sonja Bochart: Fast and faster versus being more thoughtful.
  • Beth Harmon-Vaughan: Understanding the consequences of what we do. Knowing if we’re asking the right questions to ensure we’re doing the right thing. Being thoughtful and understanding our impacts.
  • Milagros Zingoni: Differences between design work and design education. Who informs who?
  • Jose Bernardi: From faculty perspective, we are coming to you understanding these points through the lens of a newer, exploratory, innovative program in our Masters in Interior Architecture program. We have built a program based on praxis- theoretical vs. practical. How can we help you as practitioners to transform the profession? consequences of what we do.

Attendees were then led into smaller group conversations to discuss the next three questions.


What are the skillsets of the future we should be teaching now?

Small Group Discussion


Kelly Bauer, Jose Bernardi, Megan Duffy, Beth Harmon-Vaughan and Brie Smith

  • Beth Harmon-Vaughan: “The design process has been turned on its head because of technology, which I think is a good thing. It’s helping us to think more 3D and more holistically, the technology helps us to dive deeper into figuring out an idea.”
  • Confidence- we need to teach students how to be
  • Idea generation- technology makes it very deliverable-based
  • Understanding systems- the engineering that makes the design possible
  • Poetics- being authors of design ideas
  • Storytelling- inviting clients to be a part of the process
  • Recognizing that design processes are changing due to technology, must be flexible in practice

Jewell Blair, Danielle Hensley, Karín Santiago and Milagros Zingoni

  • Soft skills- how to be empathetic, collaborative, negotiation, ethics, presentation skills, resiliency
  • Hard skills- Revit, materials knowledge, research, business, AI- we should be informing these technologies, teaching VR, marketing, contracts, prep courses for NICDQ, design experiences
  • Learning design holistically- architecture and interior design should be balanced
  • Problem-solving
  • Blur the disciplines
  • Karín Santiago: “I love when architects and interior designers work together and the interior designers inform the building envelope. I enjoy that process and we should teach students how to have those conversations and how to push that collaboration.”

Ben Ayers, Lori Brunner, Melissa Holm, Aileen Montelongo and Dede Radford

  • Presentation skills because we need to sell our ideas; the medium of presentation should be as good as the design you are selling
  • Students are often seeking the path of least resistance, empathy is not evident
  • Public speaking- when do we start teaching this?
  • How do we instill more rigor?
  • Patience, sincerity, passion- not enough care for the work
  • Problem solving, critical thinking, accountability to see design through holistically
  • Interpersonal communication

James Bailey, Diane Bender, Sonja Bochart and Cheyne Brown

  • Soft skills- listening, empathy, reflection, quiet time, mindfulness, well-being, balance
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Communication
  • Programming
  • Pausing to think
  • Asking questions
  • Information and data analysis
  • Defining the problem
  • Ensuring accuracy
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Focusing on the “faster”- we need help students understand when to reflect, when to think deeper
  • Working with outside disciplines

How can design education be more relevant?

Small Group Discussion


Diane Bender, Lori Brunner, Beth Harmon-Vaughan and Milagros Zingoni

  • Speed- teaching more than one project at a time to better reflect what happens in practice
  • Teaching empathy and user-centered design. What does it mean to design for others? Culturally AND physically
  • Having more courses with other schools, this builds skillsets from other disciplines
  • Increased rigor of program
  • Design process is the same, but the tools evolve to make it more collaborative
  • Design/Build

James Bailey, Anne Elizabeth Hamilton, Aileen Montelongo, Karín Santiago and Brie Smith

  • Community engagement; being involved in the community by asking questions
  • Being mindful of gender neutrality
  • Diverse representation; equity
  • Advocating for clients and social change
  • Ethics
  • Affordability- design education is cost-prohibitive; it cannot be relevant if it is not affordable
  • Balance between student need to work vs. schoolwork
  • Mindful of ways to reduce carbon footprint
  • Learning how to fail and how to handle/resolve it; personal resilience
  • Internships not sufficient to gain enough experience, should be more robust
  • Harassment awareness
  • Professional standards

Ben Ayers, Sonja Bochart, Megan Duffy, Danielle Hensley and Dede Radford

  • Southwest/regional vs. national vs. international
  • Study abroad opens horizons
  • Relevancy of interiors services- more vendors providing the same service
  • Exposure to multiple options that a design degree can provide as a career path
  • Constantly asking why? Curiosity of designers challenging status quo
  • Is a good designer a generalist or a specialist?
  • Motives of profession vs. power and responsibility
  • Exposure to other disciplines makes a design education more relevant
  • Conformity and fear-based design leads to a beige world

Kelly Bauer, Jose Bernardi, Jewell Blair, Cheyne Brown and Melissa Holm

  • Create thinkers vs. future professionals
  • Students need to be employable
  • Create a more global and diverse environment in the program to reflect the real world
  • Produce research that educates students as well as practitioners
  • Work on complex social problems
  • Provide immersive experiences- connections to people, social issues
  • Share information with the general public

Imagine an ideal transdisciplinary course or program. What would that look like?

Small Group Discussion


Kelly Bauer, Jewell Blair, Beth Harmon-Vaughan and Milagros Zingoni

  • Kelly Bauer, Jewell Blair, Beth Harmon-Vaughan and Milagros Zingoni
  • Students have to find someone to partner with in another program outside of The Design School
  • Identifying an issue rather than a project
  • Problem-solving and resource-identification
  • Process- similar to books like The Universal Traveler
  • Course would instill process, preparation, wider worldview, better sense of self, evaluate progress using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Dede Radford, Danielle Hensley and Aileen Montelongo discuss what their ideal transdisciplinary course would be.

Megan Duffy, Danielle Hensley, Aileen Montelongo, Anne Elizabeth Hamilton and Dede Radford

  • Cultural
  • Interdisciplinary design-build class
  • Discipline-pairing class e.g. designers paired with nurses to design best patient room possible or designers paired with teachers to design classroom of the future
  • Getting students out of The Design School
  • Mock studio to learn business skills, contracts, mentorship, etc.
  • Needs project- real life “needs”

James Bailey, Diane Bender, Cheyne Brown, Lori Brunner, Karín Santiago and Brie Smith

  • Firm model with “client”
  • Incorporate students from construction management, psychology, sustainability, biomimicry, entrepreneurship, makers, real estate development
  • Final “pitch” not presentation
  • Work on broad project or social issue- wicked problems
  • Pitch could lead to award for grant or some type of realization of project

Ben Ayers, Jose Bernardi, Sonja Bochart, Melissa Holm

  • Bringing the university to the professions- go out to firms and work in those environments with clients; opportunity for pro-bono work
  • However, we do not necessarily want students to only see the status quo. We want them to go beyond practice today
  • Class focused on well-being and health- taught by a designer and a physician, it is immersive, cross-disciplinary
  • Breakdown inherent boundaries of finances/running a business

How do we promote and further equity and inclusion in our school and beyond?

Full Group Discussion

Jewell Blair: “We are not catching students when they are excited and happy, especially younger high school students. We should invest in resources to show these students a path forward.”

Milagros Zingoni: “Thinking about the efforts that STEM fields are putting in to recruit more women into STEM, where are our efforts to recruit more humans in general to design?”

Brie Smith: “We need to recognize as an industry that we have privilege and how do we get past that? What are opportunities for better representation.”

Beth Harmon-Vaughan: “Art was my gateway drug to design, we need to talk about STEAM. We need to create students for the future- if we asked young children ‘would you like to be a designer’, they wouldn’t know what that is.”

Ben Ayers: “When it comes to equity, oftentimes you are your own biggest obstacle, but also your biggest advocate, we as educators need to empower students to believe these things.”

Sonja Bochart: “Opportunities like the Living Building Challenge are great to expose to students.”

Jewell Blair:– “We should be bringing students into higher education” “There’s more to interiors than just commercial. The language, philosophy, culture has always reinforced this divide between commercial and residential and we need to move away from that.”

ReDesign.School Roundtable: Interior Design

In partnership with local ASID and IIDA

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