Just imagine this for a moment:  hundreds, no, thousands of brightly colored fabric swatches, wood & metal samples stacked high like Jenga blocks, the always favored resin cubes in every Pantone color available… Sounds kind of what sample heaven might be like, huh?  Well, sort of but we are keeping these donated excess/discontinued/un-wanted samples out of the landfill and into the hands and creative minds of up & coming local interior design students!  And, no need to worry about waste. All left-over materials will be donated to student design libraries or Trash for Teaching.

Opening at 9am this Saturday the 28th, there will already be a line about 150 students deep with hot coffee in hand awaiting the front doors of HOK, Culver City to swing open and welcome them to what will seem like “The Land of Material Samples!”  But, before everyone can dive head first into all the goodies, a designer from HOK will lead the pack through a tour of the firm.  At the end of the rainbow, a hearty continental breakfast buffet (LA style of course) jump starts the students from all over the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County area schools with the energy to sift through the organized treasure piles of samples in hopes to find a healthy stock of materials for current and future projects.

A bonus part of the event includes a symposium of interior design industry professionals and material experts who will introduce key points about their career to the students discussing how they made it down their particular path as well as answer any students’ questions.  A few of these professions include: a resource librarian at a top A+D firm, an interior/retail designer for a trendy fashion retailer, a commercial interior designer turned product/furniture rep, and a senior project manager at a local furniture dealership.  We also have a custom architectural product expert as well as a paint manufacturer expert which could potentially turn into Wood & Paint 101!

The Sample Swap is particularly held in the spring to supply students with inspiration and goods for their senior thesis projects, which are cordially invited to participate in the annual Student Exhibition prior to (most) school graduations.  This year the exhibition will be held at Cal State Long Beach on Wednesday, June 6th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.  First, second and third places as well as People’s Choice Award will be awarded to the most creative and innovative projects. The Sample Swap hopes to supply the winning finishes that really make students’ projects stand out!

Oh, and don’t forget, the first 50 students through the door receive a nifty (and sturdy) bag donated by one of the event sponsors chockfull of useful office supply goodies with plenty of room to fill with samples as well!  A special thank you to our event sponsors, Arcadia, Designtex and Inscape, as well as the Student Sample Swap committee who has helped make this annual event grow, becoming a favorite among the student (and professional) design community!

Tiffany Fairbrother
LA City Center  Communications Liaison
Systems Source