Interior design students compete at home improvement show

Using upcoming study abroad trip to Scandinavia as inspiration, interior design students create a “Modern Den.”

Competing at the NARI Spring Home Improvement Show is very similar to the project management approach that an interior designer would take with a real client. And nine Mount Mary students are up to the task. The challenge? Apply understanding of interior design principles and the theme of an “industrial space” to a 12 x 12 ft. area using limited resources at hand.

The students, who also happen to be studying abroad in Scandinavia in a few short weeks, decided to take their upcoming experience as inspiration. How would Scandinavians design with an industrial theme? Jennifer McCausland, a senior interior design student, shares their research process: “From a design perspective, we have been compiling lookbooks of each of the different cities we are visiting. I am personally looking forward to the trip to the IKEA design center, as well as the amazing subway art throughout Stockholm.”

“This experience follows the design process from planning to a full solution. It is structured as if there could have been a real client.”

Gigi Szeklinski
Chair of the Interior Design Department

They borrowed actual Scandinavian furniture from Teresa Olson of the Olson House, a friend of the University. Everything is designed with an industrial theme from the fabrication of the furniture to the color scheme. “Industrial design is clean, stream-lined. Nothing is frilly,” says Gigi Szeklinski, chair of the interior design department. “The design is done ergonomically and machine-like,” she explains. Features of this theme could include stainless steel and chrome bases, metal into the wall design, and a punchy triatic color scheme.

Students also drew upon the Scandinavian concept of hygge. Pronounced hoo-gah, hygge is a Danish word that maybe does not have a direct translation to English, but “cozy” comes close. Hygge is about feeling comfortable, perhaps convivial. And in interior design circles, this means finding space and furniture that makes you at home no matter what your style.

Outside of brief class meetings, students completed the project in five short weeks on their own time. “Truly a labor of love,” says Szeklinski. “This experience follows the design process from planning to a full solution. It is structured as if there could have been a real client.”

Learn more about Mount Mary University's Interior Design program.