Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Interior Design: More Than Meets the Eye

Thursday, September 15, 2022
Megan Thompson, a Spring 2022 SEMO graduate, introduces a bright color scheme to encourage creativity and productivity.
Photo by Nikki Foster

It’s common to hear the phrase “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” For interior design students, this is not just a far removed wisdom, but an everyday necessity.

Interior Design: A Creative and Technical Journey, an exhibition featuring work by SEMO Interior Design seniors and recent graduates, opened Sept. 6, and will be available for viewing at the Nest Gallery in the Seminary building at the River Campus until Oct. 7. This exhibition sheds light on the hidden details and considerations involved in interior design, and showcases the importance and depth of building a functional space.

Professor and interior design program coordinator Michelle Brune has worked with the university for 25 years and taught for 19. Brune’s focus is on commercial interior design, which involves “everything that’s not residential.”

“Many people think of interior design and they just think of HGTV. They don’t think of hospitals, doctor’s offices, restaurants, educational settings, gyms. Anything that’s out there that’s an interior space, interior designers work in,” Brune said.

Brune says health, safety and welfare are the most important components of interior design.

“We want it to be aesthetically pleasing, but it also needs to meet the safety guidelines and building codes that are applicable. So we are always kind of blending the artistic part and the scientific part,” Brune said.

There are many components involved in interior design, according to Brune, a few of which include exit location and signage, using non-flammable materials, creating handicap accessible areas, lighting and temperature control.

“Unless you’re directly involved with it, you’re probably not going to know all of the background stuff. It’s our job to make it a seamless thing, so you don’t walk in and it looks like an institutional space,” Brune said. “We want [the space] to be comfortable both physically and psychologically.”

To create a comfortable space, students do a lot of research into the type of space they’re creating.

“If they are designing a healthcare center for someone with cancer, they have to learn about cancer. They have to learn about the challenges that come along with that, they have to learn about what needs they have and how that kind of space would work,” Brune said.

The exhibit features the work of seniors and students that graduated this year and displays the wide variety of technical and artistic skills students have learned and mastered during their time at SEMO, such as both residential and commercial design, hand rendering and computer generated drawings.

If visitors take away anything from the exhibit, it might be that interior design is not for the faint of heart. Interior design senior Luke Losh found his love for interior design in a unique way.

“When I was in high school, like my junior year, I had a treehouse in my backyard, and I completely renovated and flipped it, and designed the whole interior of it. I really had a passion for that, and I realized that,” Losh said.

Another advantage for students looking for a rigorous program to challenge them is the recent accreditation of SEMO’s Interior Design program. The university received the Council for Interior Design Accreditation in 2017, and was accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design in 2018.

“Employers want students from accredited programs,” Brune said. “Those employers know that our students have this set of skills that the accreditations require, so they know what they’re getting. They know that they’re getting a student who knows about codes and research, and health safety welfare, “ Brune said. “It’s a win-win for everybody. It’s great for our students. We want them to get great jobs, and they really are, and they’re doing great work. We’re really proud of them.”

This accreditation was one factor in interior design senior Katie Beck’s decision to transfer to SEMO from St. Louis Community College. Beck said SEMO has given her the opportunity to challenge herself in ways that push her to become better at her craft.

“We all hold ourselves to high standards, even if our professors don’t. The hard part is wanting to do something great, and something that you’ve never done before, and not even having the skills but expecting yourself to do better,” Beck said. “That’s something I’ve learned from every class I take: instead of trying to be perfect, I just try to do as well as I can.”

There will be a closing reception for the exhibition from 5-7 p.m., Oct 7.