IIDA honoree promotes cultural understanding with design

June
14
2015

In an increasingly global society where digital connectivity dissolves physical boundaries and opportunities to encounter the unfamiliar abound, design needs people like Tara Headley (M.F.A., interior design, 2015, B.F.A., interior design, 2012).

The International Interior Design Association’s Student of the Year, Headley left Barbados in 2008 to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her undergraduate capstone project was a Caribbean cultural center for second-generation Caribbean immigrants. Garnering the Chair’s Award for the “Most Outstanding Senior Project” at SCAD and a 2014 and 2015 IIDA Best of the Best Award for “Innovation in Design” and “Social Relevance in Design,” Headley’s work struck a chord.

It’s very relevant to the conversation now in interior design how you can showcase human rights and peace and culture within buildings. — Tara Headley

It’s not hard to detect Headley’s West Indian accent, which she emphasizes in some circles and softens in others. It’s a sign of her cultural receptivity, something that dominates her approach. “I don’t think my culture influences my work in the sense that I bring a Caribbean perspective; it influences it in the way that, since I am from another culture, I am sensitive to other cultures,” Headley said.

The National Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta is one of Headley’s favorite buildings and a primary source of inspiration. She takes cues from how The Center and places like the 9/11 Memorial and the Holocaust Museum not only effectively convey facts and figures, but trigger emotions. David Mandel, The Center’s director of exhibitions and Headley’s mentor, served on the committee for her thesis project, The Iraqi Center for Peace and Cultural Understanding.

As with The Iraqi Center, Headley’s intention to promote a holistic understanding of cultures frequently portrayed in a one-dimensional context shone through in a class project that involved plans for a casino infused with references from Tuscaroran Native American tribal culture.

I think that everyone’s push to move to contemporary design is hindering people’s cultural sensitivity somewhat. — Tara Headley

The ability to promote cultural understanding and authenticity is an asset to international hospitality design firms like Hirsch Bedner Associates, which hired Headley as an intern. Her projects for HBA included hotels in Dubai, Turkey and China. She’ll continue her mission to make the world feel more accessible at HBA’s Atlanta office this summer. Her first stop, though, is Chicago, Illinois, where she’ll accept the IIDA’s inaugural Student of the Year Award at the organization’s annual meeting and make contacts that could bring her work closer to you.

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Inside the preservation story of Atlanta's Ivy Hall

May
20
2015

In honor of Preservation Month, we celebrate Savannah College of Art and Design's Ivy Hall. On May 21, 1917, the Great Fire of Atlanta spared one of the South’s rare examples of Queen Anne-style architecture, the Edward C. Peters House, or Ivy Hall after the Peters family symbol. Flanked at the time by a long dirt road, now the busy thoroughfare of Ponce de Leon Avenue, Ivy Hall landed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 2000, as The Mansion Restaurant, Ivy Hall barely survived another devastating blaze. It took more than fate to intervene and save the house a third time.

“We worked seven years on the process and we were glad to see SCAD come in on a white horse to really save the building,” said Boyd Coons, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center. "We stopped the destruction, but we needed SCAD to come in and be the steward of this.”

As Atlantans and tourists may recall, the once grand manor resembled a haunted house until SCAD received it as a donation in 2007. After undertaking an award-winning restoration that involved interior design and historic preservation students, the university reopened Ivy Hall in 2008 as home to SCAD Atlanta’s writing program.

That’s good preservation because it’s not just making a house a museum, it has a sustaining purpose. That kind of use and adaptive reuse is what’s really important. - Boyd Coons

Ivy Hall hosts writing classes and connects students and the public to renowned writers like New York Times best-selling author Augusten Burroughs, Camille Paglia, Pearl Cleage and Cinda Williams Chima. In this way, Ivy Hall’s importance has come full circle.

Another pivotal author, Margaret Mitchell, is said to have based Gone with the Wind’s character Rhett Butler on Richard Peters, father to Edward Peters who built Ivy Hall in 1883. His home lives on as a center for aspiring writers. Quite a journey for what was once considered one of Atlanta's most endangered places.

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Lighten up: behind the redesign of Mohawk Flooring’s HQ

March
28
2014

Gadflies like Google have tipped us off that our work places needn’t be drab utilitarian environments lacking inspiration and intentional design. Mohawk Flooring is one of the latest employers to create a place that’s as imaginative as it is functional; that speaks to its history as one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of floor coverings. This fall, Mohawk enlisted interior design students from Savannah College of Art and Design to reimagine its Dalton, Ga. headquarters. The result of the 10-week sponsored project of SCAD’s Collaborative Learning Center was a plan that Mohawk accepted wholesale, with no changes.


The design board the SCAD team submitted during their final presentation to Mohawk reps.
As Mohawk begins construction on that plan, here’s a look back at the project with SCAD senior Bradley Odom, who also works full-time as West Elm’s director of design education. Mohawk selected Bradley’s “Light Lab” as the guiding design force for the renovation.

Project manager Bradley Odom and his fellow students delivered the final concept to Mohawk at SCAD Atlanta.

Thread: The first step was to visit the Mohawk site. What were the takeaways?

Bradley Odom: The field trip enabled us to immerse ourselves in the actual space. We were able to see the beauty of the building and the natural mountainous area it’s surrounded by. We also worked one-on-one with the client - users of the space - to understand their needs. This relationship was very important to our overall design.

T: What inspired Light Lab and how does it fit Mohawk’s objectives?

B: The client desired a more open work environment. They were looking for a paradigm shift in their culture and to create a place that fostered collaboration.


The site plan for the redesign of Mohawk's headquarters.

B: The existing skylight in the center of the space served as inspiration, as it allowed natural light into an area where people could converge to collaborate. The primary motivating goal was to create a place where design is first and foremost. Mohawk designs beautiful product, yet it was not the primary focus when entering, and I thought it should be. In the final design, the Light Lab is a place where visitors and employees can engage in the design process by seeing the resources, products and the people who are designing the products.

A model installation that the team proposed to reference the importance of weaving and threads to Mohawk's legacy.
T: Describe some of the unique features that the SCAD team included in the plan?

B: One of the most unique features is the water bottle wall. This was inspired by the client’s reputation in the industry as one of the world’s largest recyclers of plastic water bottles. Mohawk uses the recycled bottles to create carpet tiles. I believe visitors should learn this upon entering the building. Another great feature is the lighting. In the Light Lab plan we included a lighting element that would project natural and artificial light through cut out metal onto the floor in the form of keywords that described the overall concept and Mohawk as a company--INSPIRE, EXPLORE, DESIGN.

A sketch of how a lighting element filters natural light from the skylight and a prototype of a light fixture that also plays on the theme of weaving.
B: The dining area was a new feature for this space. We included stadium type seating for a more casual area, counter height dining and typical table and booth seating. The multiple seating heights provides flexibility for the employees and the space. We also included a communal dining table.

Stadium seating was proposed for the dining area.

T: The client had no changes to the concept you presented. What was the key to your success?

B: Seeing the space, listening to the client and one of the elements that was key to articulating the concept: imagery. Finding the right inspiration images to articulate what I was trying to convey was very important.

Paint chips and swatches for floor coverings.

B: In conveying the concept, I wanted to make a statement that was brief, but powerful. I believe the concept statement and imagery together met all of the clients needs. But the number one reason for the overall success was the collaboration of my peers and the expertise of Professor Liset Robinson. The concept was my idea, but my peers and my professor helped to bring all of my ideas to fruition, and expanded on them. The project couldn't have happened in the given time span without the contribution of everyone on the team.
 

 

 

 

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DesignIntelligence’s 2014 rankings name SCAD interior design #1

November
12
2013

For the third year in a row, DesignIntelligence has ranked Savannah College of Art and Design's graduate and undergraduate interior design programs number one in the nation.

Leading professionals and educators determine “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools.” SCAD’s close relationship to industry and unique interdisciplinary environment are two factors that keep its programs at the top of the list.

Interior design students who study at SCAD benefit from exposure to more than 40 degree programs and the Collaborative Learning Center, through which they solve real-world design challenges for major corporations and brands.

In one of the first such partnerships between SCAD and industry, for example, interior design students worked directly with Benetton and their North American staff to design a new flagship store for the retailer. The students tapped the university's graphic design, advertising, fashion and marketing management, architecture, furniture design, and service design programs to present Benetton with plans for a retail store of the future.

In an increasingly competitive economy where the demand for skilled talent is high, these projects give students an edge, especially within a multi-disciplinary profession like interior design. The result is a success story for higher education and employment for a new generation of designers.

Ninety percent of students who graduated from SCAD’s interior design program in Spring 2012 reported that they were employed or pursuing further education within nine months of graduating.

A few recent projects by SCAD faculty and the 1,500 alumni of SCAD’s interior design program:

Restoration of Gritti Palace in Venice, Italy by Chuck Chewning.

New Balance Experience Store in Boston, Massachusetts by Nikole Nelson.

Nectar Skin Bar in Washington, D.C. by William McGovern.

Celebrity Cruise's Sky Observation Lounge by Professor Charles Boggs.

Gulfstream's 9,300 square-foot sales and design center in Dallas, Texas by Tray Crow.

SCAD will celebrate its number one ranking tomorrow with events in Savannah and Atlanta.

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Jason Hackenwerth sculpture honors SCAD School of Building Arts

October
10
2013

Everyone likes balloons at a party. In the case of installation artist Jason Hackenwerth’s (M.F.A., Painting) buoyant sculptures, balloons are the party. Miami’s Art Basel, New York’s Guggenheim and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum have hosted Hackenwerth's stunning creations. Last night, he debuted his work in Atlanta at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

The city’s botanical gardens have exhibited Dale Chihuly’s blown glass sculptures but, floating from the sky, Hackenwerth's similar sea-like behemoth made those reveling beneath it feel as though they were sitting on the bottom of a prehistoric ocean. It’s safe to say those in its shadow hadn’t seen anything like Hegemonster’s blue-green glow, which emanated from the terrace above Peachtree Street at SCAD Atlanta. Eighteen feet tall and 21 feet in diameter, Hackenwerth's sculpture was the envy of Midtown’s rooftops.

In the exclusive one-night showing, Hackenwerth unveiled Hegemonster high over the heads of giants of a different kind: captains of interior design and architecture who gathered to celebrate the School of Buildings Arts’ most recent honors.

For the second year in a row, DesignIntelligence ranked SCAD the No. 1 interior design program in its list of “America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools.” This summer, SCAD’s Master of Architecture program became the first in Georgia, and one of the first in the U.S., to earn the new maximum eight-year term of reaccreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Jason Hackenwerth with Hegemonster
Jason Hackenwerth with his installation

Throughout the reception Hegemonster’s audience couldn’t take their eyes off the otherworldly form. In a nod to the company he kept, Hackenwerth reflected on the sculpture’s construction and the design cues it takes from his alma mater.

“This towering sculpture stands on four strong legs which support a cavernous form,” he noted. “These four legs could be compared to SCAD's four campuses and the supported body, the limitless potential of the students that come to SCAD to begin their careers."

Just like his sculptures, Hackenwerth keeps rising to the occasion.

 

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