Article By: Piper Hale
Published: Nov 10, 2011
Bernardo Coronado-Guerra, from Mexico City, Mexico, earned an M.F.A. in interior design from SCAD Savannah in 2011.
Bernardo Coronado-Guerra's fascination for structures and decorated spaces began early when, as a child, he annexed the hallway by his bedroom for his own tiny city constructed out of toys. "Every building had a number," says Bernardo. "I was big on numbers. And there were even street names." As he got older, Bernardo's city grew more complex, even incorporating railroads, courtesy of some model train kits.
Throughout his childhood, Bernardo's family traveled extensively. While he continued to expand the miniature city next to his bedroom, Bernardo was exposed to the architecture of some of the most celebrated real cities of the world: Paris, Madrid, London and Vancouver. Naturally, it came as no surprise to his family when, many years later, Bernardo went to college to study architecture.
After completing his undergraduate studies, Bernardo spent several years at architecture firms in Mexico. In his work, Bernardo designed the interiors of a high-end residential complex, and was surprised to discover how crucial a strong interior can be to an overall work of architecture.
This experience inspired Bernardo to seek further study of interiors. He looked into master's programs in interior design
, and ultimately chose SCAD at the recommendation of his former architecture professor. One of SCAD's greatest draws for him, he says, was the proximity of his classes to the rest of the School of Building Arts
, which he knew would help ensure that he didn't lose touch with his architecture roots.
Since Bernardo moved to Savannah, the city has inspired him to focus more on regional architecture and to develop an eye for urban context. "Savannah really has its distinct style," says Bernardo. "The historic district and downtown have a style that's so characteristic of Savannah; it's not generic." In his own work, Bernardo strives to design buildings that fit with their surroundings; he believes that ignoring architectural context to draft a one-size-fits-all design is lazy architecture. Good architecture and interior design, he says, should "embrace the vernacular of the user, of the client, of the surroundings."
While at SCAD, Bernardo served both as a student ambassador to prospective and incoming students and as a graduate mentor to undergraduate students. He contributed designs to a collaborative student project designing a new flagship store for retailer United Colors of Benetton and has worked as an intern for SCAD's Office of Creative Initiatives. In this capacity, he helped redesign the interior of the Gryphon
, a SCAD café.
In all of these roles, and as a student in the interior design program, Bernardo met new people continuously. "Networking is a big thing for SCAD," he says. "They do everything in their power for us to network, not only between majors, but also with local people and celebrities that come to town. There's always something going on. I've even had the opportunity to have lunch with several of the visitors for lectures. I just had dinner with Pamela Fiori, who recently gave a lecture at the student center."
Bernardo has seized these kinds of new opportunities with enthusiasm; in the summer of 2010, he spent the quarter at SCAD's campus in Lacoste, France
. Bernardo, unspoiled by a lifetime of international travel, still found the French countryside inspiring and used his time abroad to try out new art forms. While in Lacoste, Bernardo walked the runway as a model at a Pierre Cardin sponsored fashion show and even sold four small ink drawings that he created in classes there. "Provence is essentially a medieval village," says Bernardo. "It's just a magnificent setting. I made some very good friends there, and I experienced some self-discovery in the process."
For his thesis, Bernardo returned to the same kind of project that sparked his interest in interior design in the first place: high-end residential design. His thesis focuses specifically on home interiors for affluent retirees to Mexico. He has designed the luxury interiors to age with the residents: the master bedroom has the fixtures to convert into an at-home hospital suite and spare rooms are designed with live-in caregivers in mind.
After his graduation, Bernardo was immediately offered a position with HBA Singapore, but he ultimately decided to stay in the U.S. instead. He considered several opportunities before accepting a position working as an associate designer for SCAD, where he has already contributed to the unveiling of the SCAD Museum of Art
He is delighted that he is able to stay in interior design instead of returning to architecture. "I really enjoy working with clients," explains Bernardo, "seeing the look on their faces of satisfaction, that whatever they envisioned or whatever they need is actually being done. That's what really appeals to me about design: giving the client a space they will be using 24/7 and knowing it fits them like a glove."