WSU Davis' D3 is designed for design

(Photo by Zac Williams, courtesy WSU) Sabrina Overman's chair from 2013's The Charitable Chair event.
(Source: Zac Williams, courtesy of WSU) Sabrina Overman’s chair was part of 2013’s The Charitable Chair event.
  • (Photo by Rachel Badali) The interior design department’s textiles lab, for student use in design projects.

About 150 students are majoring in interior design. These students will be trained in all facets of the design industry and prepare to take their design licensure exams.

The new facilities at the Davis campus gave staff and students two things designers love: more space and more organization. The program has a textiles library, updated faculty offices, classrooms with comfortable chairs and work areas, a computer lab already loaded with the specific design programs, and storage.

Kristen Arnold, the interior design program coordinator, said she is grateful to have everything related to interior design located in one place. “Our space that we’ve been given is just so design-oriented, which I think really helps students be innovative,” she said. “We just love it.”

WSU’s interior design program is the only one in the state accredited by both the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

“My favorite part about the program at Weber State is the knowledge that we gain in a lot of the classes,” said WSU junior Sabrina Overman, WSU’s International Interior Design Association representative and member of the interior design presidency board. “It’s not just putting together pretty presentations; it’s actually learning in-depth things about interior design, like codes and textiles, AutoCAD, and different computer applications and programs. Our instructors are really knowledgeable in those things.”

Students and teachers are preparing for a semester full of activity. Scheduled for Jan. 23-25 is a design charrette, an intense period of collaborative designing. Students are placed in teams and given a design problem they have to completely solve in 48 hours. During that time, they must find solutions for the problem, create a video and produce design boards. “Most of them come unshowered, having no sleep for three days, and they throw their projects on the table at 4 o’clock when they’re due,” said Jacie Johnson, associate instructor of interior design.

Last year’s challenge was a mock-trial makeover of the dining room and lobby of the Ben Lomond Suites. This year’s location will be kept secret from students until the day of their assignment. Despite the limited amount of time to brainstorm and construct, Johnson said she is always impressed with the quality of work her students present.

Overman, who will participate in this year’s design charrette for the first time, said she is excited for the hands-on design experience. “In school, it’s just these make-believe projects. The charrette is actually fixing a problem and doing what we love to do.”

Coming up in April is the annual Charitable Chair event. Students are asked to find historic chairs to refurbish and restore to their old glory. The chairs are then displayed and auctioned off with both a live and silent auction at a public event. The proceeds are divided between the interior design program and the Boys & Girls Club.

“It’s a wonderful event. This is my second year doing it,” Overman said. “I participated last year, and my chair actually auctioned off for $1,100, which is really exciting.”

The interior design department also does a study-abroad program every year. “This year, it’s in-country and we’re going to go to the Deep South,” Arnold said. Running May 11-17, the trip will focus on historical preservation and will highlight the antebellum homes of the South. There are still spots available, and Wildcats don’t have to be interior design students to go. “We welcome any of the university community to come,” Arnold said.

Overman said she loves showing people how skilled the team of Wildcat designers is. She believes their work is more detailed than the public generally believes. “We have to learn building codes and ADA restrictions and things like that,” she said. “It is definitely more than picking paint samples or fluffing pillows or putting things on walls.”