Spotlight on Cristina Garvie


1. Tell us a little bit about your education and how you got into interior design.

I went to college at Louisiana State University and got my bachelors of arts in Interior Design in 2011. I triple minored in 2-D Art, Business Administration and Community Design. I have always loved creating things and solving complex problems, so Design seemed like a natural fit.

2. How long have you been NCIDQ certified and what compelled you to take the exams?

I got my license in January 2014 after studying for over a year. I decided to take the exams because I felt like there were a lot of things I still had yet to learn about the actual practice of interior design and figured this was the best way to fast track my learning.

3. What can you tell us about the latest version of the Practicum? How is it different than the old version?

The practicum used to be an 8 hour hand drafting exam where you were tested on basic space planning, drawing details, MEP coordination, lighting etc. It was all graded manually by a team, which is why it took over 8 weeks to get your scores. Believe me, that window after taking the exam was painful!

The new Prac 2.0 still tests you on the same concepts, but has been converted into a 4 hour exam that includes multiple choice, drag and drop, fill in the blank, hot spot and check all that apply questions. Unlike the Architectural exams, we don’t have to draw anything.

The test is broken into three case studies: Large Scale Commercial, Small Scale Commercial and a Residential project. It requires you to apply your knowledge of how to read drawings, codes, specifications, schedules, etc. to answer a series of questions and cross reference the materials provided in the design brief. The most difficult part of the new Prac is managing your time. You are not able to go back to a previous case study once you have completed a section, so timing is essential.

There are some great resources provided by CIDQ if you want to take a mock exam of 12 or 75 questions to get a feel for the new software interface.

4. How did you first get involved with the San Diego City Center of IIDA?

I moved to San Diego in 2014 and didn’t know a soul. I decided a professional organization would be a great way to meet people in the community, so I joined the local IIDA and start attending events. I am an introvert, so I knew I needed to join a committee of some kind. When I was in Houston, I had participated in a study group for the NCIDQ and thought that San Diego could greatly benefit from a similar resource. I contacted my old colleagues and got their help to put together my first study group in Jan 2018.


5. Can you tell us a little more about the NCIDQ study group that you are leading?

After teaching the Study Group in San Diego for the last year and a half, I have decided to start teaching the course as a side business.

In March of 2019, I started ID Conquer. I am offering an in-person study group for anyone interested in sitting for the NCIDQ exams. Our classes offer both an in person and virtual learning component, so we can reach a broader audience. At ID Conquer, we believe that the power of community can empower designers to pass the NCIDQ exam.

Test content is broken down into manageable sections over a 10 – 12 week time period. ID Conquer helps to hold participants accountable to one another and themselves. We meet weekly for a couple of hours and discuss the material we were assigned to read, do exercises and play games that help to reinforce the material we learned. Ultimately ID Conquer is intended to give you a taste of what is on the exam and connect you with others that can help you study along the way.

A lot of other study materials out there only provide practice questions. This is great if you already know the content. ID Conquer helps to provide the structure to study for all three exams and learn where you have areas of weakness so you can focus in on what you have left to learn.


6. Why is being NCIDQ certified important to you?

I think it is something that helps to strengthen our industry and give us credibility. It was also a great learning tool when you are first starting out!

7. What is your favorite type of design?

I love mid-century modern design. The attention to detail and general planning concepts are by far my favorite. If you ever have time to go to Palm Springs for Modernism Week, it is a real treat!

8. Describe your dream vacation.

Unlimited frozen margaritas with salt on a beach and a good book.

9. If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

Be patient and open to the crazy things life throws your way; nothing is more important than family. You never know when someone will be whisked away to the next life and you don’t want to be left thinking about all the moments you could have had together.

10. What is an interesting thing about you that not many people know?

I participated in my first Crossfit Competition in December 2018 and placed dead last! We had a lot of fun preparing for it and it was amazing to see what other people can do!

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