Interior Design Students Reimagine the Workplace

The guest jurors announce the winners of the competition.

When designing for today’s workplace, interior designers are increasingly called upon to think beyond the traditional cubicle and create a more contemporary space. Interior design students in Abimbola Asojo and Justine Pliska’s IDES 2604 experienced this first-hand when they were asked to design a “third place work cafe” as part of a competition from Haworth.

“The parameters were to design a fictional third place work café and furniture showroom for the Minneapolis North Loop neighborhood based upon a real Detroit location called Airea Studio,” explained Haworth guest critic Lindsey Rain (B.A. ’92, Interior Design). Third place workspaces provide a comfortable space for employees and freelancers to collaborate and “augment an existing business’ workspace by offering an additional location to work.”

Using Haworth furniture, the students planned and designed a collaborative work area for the wide variety of users found in a workplace. Their final designs were evaluated by Rain, Rhonda Miles (B.S. ’77, Interior Design) interior designer at AECOM, Haworth Business Development Executive Jennifer Somers, and Betsy Vohs (M.Arch ’04) founder of Studio BV.

The final projects displayed a wide array of design ideas. But when it came to selecting the winner of the competition, all of the jurors looked for similar traits, “We looked for students that had great ideas about how this could work. We wanted a rich design concept that looked at the context of the site and how it could really function as a showroom and workplace,” said Vohs.

The jurors also looked for students thinking, “holistically about the project and goals and who dug deep into understanding the client and designing a space that reflects that client and their culture,” added Rain.

Although the decision was tough, the jurors ultimately selected Emily Walther for first place in IDES 2604 section one and for first place overall. Karly Basara was selected for first place in IDES 2604 section two, while Mikaila Kopcho was named the winner of the social media contest.

“As an alum of the College of Design, I recall how much I appreciated and learned from practicing design professionals. I want to give back to my alma mater and I also enjoy the opportunity to support design students,” said Rain.

“Experiences like these for a design student can help shape the direction of their career,” continued Vohs, “This kind of project fosters limitless creativity from the students and gives them a chance to push their design ideas in a project that supports flexible, innovative, and contemporary ideas about the workplace.”

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