Tag Archives: Students

2017 IIDA SoCal Student Portfolio Competition


The IIDA Southern California 2017 Student Portfolio Competition was held on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at the Steelcase showroom located high in the skyline of downtown Los Angeles. Taking part were 20 extremely talented and diverse students from 7 participating Southern California Schools.

Take a look at photos from the event here!

Students arrived as scheduled throughout the day, carrying intricate models, stunning display boards, and various other materials with which to present their best efforts. There were 3 categories of competition this year: 

Innovation in Interior Design – awarded for the presentation that shows the highest level of innovation through design solutions.

Social Relevance in Interior Design – awarded for the presentation that best addresses social or cultural issues through creative design.

The Stephanie Tarr Award – awarded to the student who best demonstrates their commitment to involvement in the Southern California design industry through their IIDA membership, event volunteering, service to the community, charity work, and other forms of mentoring or participation.

Faced with the complex task of judging these wildly different and innovative projects were:

Aram Arakelian – Founder Environmental Contracting Corp., Founder Scholarship Foundation, Affiliate, IIDA

Cassie Sanchez – Gensler – Past VP student Affairs, IIDA

Claire Thompson – The Thompson Collaborative LLC – Past President, IIDA

Laurence Cartledge – Rottet Studio – Former Judge

Scott Johnson – Wolcott – Past President, IIDA

Susanne – Molina – Design One – Fellow and Past President, IIDA

 After a long day filled with nervous preparation, enthusiastic presentations, tours of the Steelcase showroom, and networking, the judges deliberated to decide the most deserving honorees from among the many outstanding participants.


The Innovation category, with a $5000 scholarship, was awarded to Rae Chye from Art Center College of Design.


The Social Relevance category, with a $5000 scholarship, was awarded to SuSun Kwak from Art Center College of Design.


The prestigious Stephanie Tarr Award, with a $5000 scholarship, was awarded to Angela Hickman from California State University Long Beach.

The awards will be formally presented at the 29th Annual IIDA Calibre Design Awards on Friday, May 19th 2017.

Edgardo Caceres and Jessica Collins, IIDA SoCal’s VP’s of Students Affairs, thank the host, Judges, students, sponsors and volunteers for helping to make this a memorable event.

Event Sponsors:
Alur Walls – Mark Clark
Environmental Contracting Corp – Aram Arakelian
Shaw Contract –  Kimberly Johnson
Steelcase – Stephanie Martinez, IIDA

The 2016 IIDA Student Design Charette


The 2016 IIDA Southern California Student Design Charette was held earlier this month at LPA, Inc. in Irvine, CA.

See the photos from the Charette here!

Thirty students from Interior Design Programs in schools throughout Southern California were selected to compete in this prestigious design challenge. Christine Oiwake, last year’s Charette winner gave a brief presentation and then the students were grouped into six teams and challenged to design a flexible retail concept including a specialty market, bistro restaurant and cooking classroom. The project was located in the heart of the historical Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood in the Broadway Trade Building.

The teams had 4.5 hours to collaborate and come up with creative design solutions, after which, they presented their project to a distinguished panel of judges that included:

Aram Arakelian, Founder – Environmental Contracting Corporation

Brett Shwery, Senior Vice President, Corporate Workplace, Design & Delivery Director – AECOM

Robyn Taylor, Director of Design – Westgroup Designs

Sandi Warneke, Design Principal & Studio Director – Gensler

After serious deliberation and discussion, private interviews were held with each team and the 1st and 2nd place winners were announced.

The winners are:


First Place Team
Eva Gao, Design Institute San Diego
Clarence Vong, CSU Northridge
Tanner Geertsen, Otis
Odalis Guerrero-Hernandez, Woodbury
John Corpuz, Mt. San Antonio College


Second Place Team
Francis Redublo, CSULB
Leah Impey, San Diego Mesa College
Lindsey Graves, Mt. San Antonio College
Tyera Black-Davis, Art Institute – SD
Maegan Iamjan, Otis

Edgardo Caceres and Jessica Collins, IIDA SoCal’s VP’s of Student Affairs, thank the host, sponsors, students and volunteers for helping to make this event a huge success!

Event Sponsors:
Environmental Contracting Corporation – Aram Arakelian
LPA Inc. – Natalie Zweig
Pivot Interiors – Trish Drummy
Steelcase – Stephanie Martinez

2016 Student Portfolio Competition

The IIDA Student Portfolio Competition was held on Saturday, February 27, 2016 at the Haworth Showroom in downtown Los Angeles.  Twenty students from 5 schools in Southern California participated. 

The students competed in 3 categories: Innovation in Interiors Design (awarded to the student with a project that achieves a high level of innovation through design solutions that show creativity and a fresh approach) and Social Relevance in Interiors Design (awarded to a student with a project that addresses social or cultural issues).  The students could also apply for the prestigious Stephanie Tarr Award.  This award was established in memory Stephanie Tarr,  to recognize the inspirational influence she had on the interior design industry in Southern  California. The Stephanie Tarr is bestowed upon a student who demonstrates a commitment to  IIDA student involvement through membership, event volunteering, service to the community,  charity and by mentoring others. 


Our esteemed panel of judges included: Aram Arakelian, Affil. IIDA – Environmental Contracting, Claire Thompson, IIDA – TTC Design, Scott Johnson, IIDA, CID, IALD, LEED AP -Wolcott Architecture |Interiors, Pam Light, FIIDA, LEED AP – HOK, Pam Neiman, IIDA, CID – Neiman Studios and Kathryn Hampton, IIDA – K2S Studio.


In the Innovation category a $5,000 scholarship was awarded to Michelle Sugeng from The Art Center College of Design.


An honorable mention scholarship of $2,500 in Social Relevance was awarded to Eri Kawaguchi-Murphy from The  Art Center College of Design.


An honorable mention scholarship of $2,500 in Social Relevance and the prestigious Stephanie Tarr scholarship of $5,000 was awarded to Alvin Oei from The Art College of Design.

The students will receive their awards  at the 28th Annual IIDA Calibre Design Awards on Friday, May 13th 2016. Thank you to our judges, Pivot Interiors for lunch and Haworth for their wonderful space and hospitality.

Congratulations  all!

IIDA Student Design Charette 2015


The IIDA Student Design Charette was held on Saturday, November 14th, 2015 at LPA in Irvine. Schools from all over Southern California participated: Woodbury, CSUN, San Diego Mesa College, Art Institute Inland Empire, Orange Coast College, Otis College of Art and Design, CSULB, Mt. San Antonio College, Art Institute San Diego, Design Institute of San Diego, and Interior Designers Institute. Thirty students were divided into 6 teams of 5 students each.

Take a look at photos of the event here!


In the morning the students were presented with a design problem and had 4.5 hours to solve it, create a concept board with their solution and prepare a presentation. In the afternoon, after the charette was completed, Robyn Taylor IIDA CID; President IIDA Southern California Chapter welcomed the students and asked for a moment of silence in memory of Nohemi Gonzalez, the CSULB Design Student killed in the recent terrorist attack in Paris. The Charette was dedicated to her memory.


The students then presented their projects to our esteemed panel of judges; Aram Arakelian, Affil. IIDA, Founder of Environmental Contracting Corp; Laurence Cartledge, Senior Associate, Rottet Studio; Sandi Warneke, IIDA, CID, LEED, NCIDQ, Principal, Gensler; Richard D’Amato, AIA LEED AP, Principal, LPA; and Susanne Molina, FIIDA CID LEED AP, Director, Klawiter & Associates.

Each team presented inspiring solutions to the design problem. As the judges deliberated, Winston Bao with LPA gave a presentation on The Exploration of The Creative Process and Natalie Zweig with LPA gave tours of LPA’s Office.

2nd place winners- (L to R) Katie Jones (CSULB), Tasha Sumner (Interior Designers Institute), Andrew Apodaca (Art Institute of CA IE),Kassandra Becerril (Design Institute SD)& Paulina Benavides (Otis)

The judges awarded 2nd Prize to team #4: Katie Jones (CSULB), Tasha Sumner (Interior Designers Institute), Andrew Apodaca (Art Institute Inland Empire), Kassandra Becerril (Design Institute San Diego) and Paulina Benavides (Otis). These students will share a $4,000.00 award.

1st place winners- (L to R) Ashley Achleithner (Art Institute of CA SD), Ghadeer Alburaiki (Otis), Jackiemae Apolinario (Mt Sac IE), Rina Velasco (CSUN) & Christine Oiwake (CSULB)

The judges awarded 1st place to Team #2: Ashley Achleither (Art Institute San Diego), Ghadeer Alburaiki (Otis), Jackiemae Apolinario (Mt SAC), Rina Velasco (CSUN) and Christine Oiwake (CSULB). This team will share a $10,000.00 award which will be presented to them at the IIDA SoCal Calibre Design Awards in May 2016. They will also represent IIDA Southern California Chapter at the 2nd Annual IIDA Westcoast Student Charette in April 2016 in Seattle, WA.

A special “Thank You” to Natalie Zweig and LPA for hosting the event, Tangram and Pivot Interiors for providing breakfast and lunch, and to our judges. Congratulations to the winning teams and all the students who participated!

2015 Los Angeles Student Design Expo


The Los Angeles Student Design Expo was an inspiring exhibit of 2015’s student design work, featuring thesis projects from LA’s top design schools.



Director of Design, Walt Disney Company

Spec. Sales Agent/Adjunct Professor, Performance Lighting/ USC

Principal, Wolcott Architecture l Interiors

Principal, Neiman Studio

Principal, Gensler

Watch the video of the event here!

SoCal Design Student Charette: A Student’s Journey

International Student Design Charette- June 2015

In spring of 2013, I began on a journey that has undoubtedly changed my life — I decided to enroll at Orange Coast College to pursue a second career in Interior Design. By year two, the Director of the department asked me if I would be interested in participating in the annual IIDA Southern California Student Design Charette. I was honored to be asked and to represent my school, I said yes!

On the day of the Charette, I nervously met up with 35 other students for what was to be one of the greatest collaborative creative design challenges that I had ever experienced. I was paired with a team of five students that I had never met, and we were given a design problem to solve in five hours. With architectural ruler in hand, the countdown began and we started designing away until the heart-thumping moment of presenting to the judges arrived.

SoCal Local Student Design Charette- November 2014

My team won the Charette receiving a very generous monetary award, plus the opportunity to participate at the first IIDA West Coast Student Design Charette. I was assigned to a new team and we were given a new challenge. I was fortunate to be on the winning team again, and got to go to NeoCon in Chicago this past June to compete at the IIDA International Design Student Charette.

West Coast Student Design Charette- April 2015

It’s hard to put into words the excitement and self-discovery that can occur when you are put into a setting that pushes you and a team to do your best in a field you love. Entering into a competition of this caliber has been extremely rewarding and I hope that all students who are invited to participate are able to do so.

It’s been great fun meeting new people and having the opportunity to connect and learn more about the industry along the way. Thanks to all who have been a part of my journey!

Erika De La Parra


If you are an IIDA Student Member enrolled in an Interior Design program, the 2015 Student Design Charette Call for Entries is open now. Click here for more information about eligibility and how to enter.

What We Can Learn from Students


The IIDA student competitions are educational experiences…but for whom? In the several years I have been involved in the fascinating process of judging student charrette and portfolio competitions, I’m the lucky beneficiary of free education. In the same way that students stand on our shoulders as they emerge into the professional world, we in turn stand on theirs. By immersing into the student experience, we glimpse something different, we are exposed to new ideas, we see new processes, we learn where we are going, like it or not. And make no mistake, it’s a two-way street, we see breath-taking blunders and amazing head-slappers, both by the students and their mentors. But each of those is a teachable moment, a chance to learn what to avoid, or how to help steer a proper course. The other great dividend is the chance that the job applicant you are about to interview is someone with whose work you are already familiar, and whose presentation in the heat of battle you have already witnessed. What a unique and enviable advantage. Students, were you aware when the audition process actually started? Now you know. Thank you, IIDA, for my continuing education. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Scott Johnson, IIDA, IALD, CID, LEED®AP
Wolcott Architecture | Interiors

West Coast Student Design Charette Founding Sponsors


The Inaugural West Coast Student Design Charette is fast approaching! Learn more about the event that takes place on April 11th in Newport Beach, California. This event is the second round of competition in the first ever IIDA charette series. Winning teams from West Coast Chapter Charettes will compete for the chance to advance to the International IIDA Student Design Charette in Chicago during Neocon 2015!

A BIG Thank You to our wonderful Founding Sponsors! 
Learn more about each Founding Sponsor and what inspired them to support IIDA West Coast Chapter Student Members in this inaugural event.




Pauline Cheng: IIDA Student Awards Program Recipient

Pauline Cheng, Project Manager, Design & Construction, Corporate Real Estate Division of Warner Bros.
Pauline Cheng, Project Manager, Design & Construction, Corporate Real Estate Division of Warner Bros.

At this year’s Calibre Awards, we will be celebrating the history, legacy and success of our SoCal Student Awards Program. Pauline Cheng, IIDA Student Awards Program Recipient, tells us in her own words how the Awards program impacted her design career.

When I received the Student Award, I was in the process of changing careers. I originally moved to Los Angeles to attend graduate school in Organizational Psychology. After a few years, I became dissatisfied and started exploring other career options (The term ‘quarter-life crisis’ hadn’t been invented yet, but I was having one!).

When I started studying Interior Design at UCLA Extension, I was working full time, taking design classes at night and spending my weekends doing homework. The Student Award provided the first real validation that my decision to try this new career was a good one. It also provided some breathing room for me financially, which was a huge relief. It took a long time to complete my design education. Receiving the Award was a great motivator to keep on going!

Project by Beckson Design Associates, Los Angeles
Project by Beckson Design Associates, Los Angeles

The Award also introduced me to IIDA events where I was able to meet people working in the industry. Those connections led to my first internship at a furniture showroom, and eventually to my first design job with Beckson Design Associates.

Today as a Project Manager at Warner Bros., I’m still friends with and work with people I met through IIDA in those early days.

Congratulations to 25 years of the IIDA SoCal Chapter Student Program!

The success of our SoCal Student Awards Program relies on the support of our design community. Join us at this year’s Calibre Awards as we celebrate this program and the people that have made it happen over the years.