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WSU Interior Design Program Considered Among the Best

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s interior design program is considered to be one of the of the top 10 in North America, according to a poll taken last month at the second semi-annual Large Design Firm Roundtable hosted by the International Interior Design Association.

The IIDA is an international professional networking and educational association. The Chicago-based group has nearly 10,000 members around the world.

In a press release issued by the IIDA, Karen Guenther, president of the association said: “IIDA’s list of top design programs includes those programs that in our opinion are producing interior design professionals whose skills match the needs of large design firms.”

“It’s quite on honor to be included on a practitioner organization’s top ten list,” said Jo Ann Asher Thompson, chair of WSU’s apparel, merchandising and interior design department. “We must be doing something right.”

The first three years of the WSU program are taught in Pullman. Students complete their final year at WSU Spokane at the Interdisciplinary Design Institute. There they learn and collaborate with last-year students in architecture, construction management and landscape architecture, professional disciplines the future interior designers will work closely with in their professional careers.

The IIDA, along with some of the nation’s largest interior design firms, plans to conduct a formal study to identify the academic interior design programs in North America that best prepare their students for work in large firms. Specifically, the study will quantify interior design curriculums and identify skills that large design firms look for in new hires. Results are expected in 1998.

“When we began to identify schools that are doing their jobs well, the names on the IIDA’s list of top ten design programs came up repeatedly,” said Neil Frankel, IIDA president-elect. “Many of us who work for large firms, however, have found a major disconnect between the curriculums in some interior design schools and the skills that large firms, particularly those that focus on commercial interior design, need and expect of their employees.”

“IIDA’s formal study will tell us if this initial list, based on our individual experiences with recent graduates, is on the mark.” The list was compiled during a two- day discussion of interior design education.

The other interior design programs named among the top ten are at Arizona State University, California State University at Long Beach, Cornell University, the Pratt Institute, Syracuse University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Manitoba, the University of Nebraska and the University of Oregon.

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