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Inland Empire Design Connect Recap


Architect Paul Wheeler from Wheeler & Wheeler Architects (left) poses for a photo with UHS ROP Architecture students Brittney Samaniego, Ariadne Garcia, Mirko Fernandez and Pablo Cuevas at the Inland Empire Design Connect trade show held at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. The students were given the red carpet treatment as they dined on great food, while experiencing a great exhibit, showcasing the latest trends for commercial interior environments. ROP Architecture is part of the Engineering & Architecture pathway at Upland High School.

Student Expo Next Week!


Please join us for this year’s LA City Center Student Design Expo on Thursday, March 7th. AECOM has generously offered to host this event again at their DTLA office.


The Student Design Expo is a unique opportunity for aspiring design professionals to showcase their work and network with tenured industry leaders. Students will have the platform to discuss their selected project in front of a panel of judges comprised of IIDA Board Members. This year, awards will be given for Best in Show and People’s Choice. Following the student presentations, a panel of recognized industry professionals will address the audience to discuss their career paths, industry experiences, and much more. The esteemed group of panelists this year includes:

Pam Light, Senior Principal/Regional Leader of Workplace, HOK

James Merchant, Senior Interior Designer, AECOM

Josie Park, Design Project Manager, NBC Universal

Gillian Sutton, Senior Project Manager, Newmark

Moderated by Amy Hill, Founder + Workplace Consultant, Work Thread

This event is open to both IIDA members and non-members. For additional event information and to purchase tickets, check out the event page here. See you on the 7th!

2018 Leaders Breakfast Keynote Speaker, Ruth Carter, wins Oscar

Congratulations are in order to Ruth Carter, the first African-American woman to ever win an Oscar for costume design. She was awarded this honor on Sunday, based upon her recent costume creations for Marvel’s mega blockbuster, Black Panther. Ruth recently served as IIDA Southern California Chapter’s keynote speaker at the Los Angeles Leaders Breakfast in September 2018. Over 400 design community attendees enjoyed Ruth’ s presentation, as she shared personal sketches and explained the methodologies for over 1,000 Black Panther hand crafted costumes.


Ruth has provided her creative expertise to more than 40 films, earning Academy Award nominations in Best Costume Design for her work on Malcom X (1992) and Amistad (1997). However, this past Sunday’s 91st Academy Awards, marked Ruth’s very first Oscar win. During her speech, Ruth describes what the win symbolizes: “It means that we’ve opened up the door… Finally, the door is wide open. I’ve been struggling and digging deep and mentoring and doing whatever I could to raise others up, and I hope from my example there is hope and other people can come in and win an Oscar just like I did.”


During a recent interview with FastCompany, Ruth discusses her ideation on conceptualizing the costumes, stating that she wanted the costumes to not portray typical superheroes; “We didn’t want them to be these sexy girls walking around with a guy in a bulletproof catsuit. We wanted them to be serious fighters”. Furthermore, Ruth goes on to describe where her iconic costume design originating, largely from the east African tribe known as the Maasai. The color red was important symbolism: ”This brilliant red is a consistent color in Africa. So I upped the ante on the tone… I wanted it to be almost like an intimidating red, just intense and saturated”.

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Pictures

IIDA Southern California is thrilled to congratulate Ruth Carter on her recent Oscar win and forever changing the history of costume design. We are thankful to have experienced Ruth speak at our recent Leaders Breakfast event, along with honoree Jayna Zweiman, co-creator and mastermind behind The Pussyhat Project, a global women’s movement which has reached over 600 rallies across multiple continents. To see more photos from the 2018 Leaders Breakfast event, click here.

Congratulations Ruth!

2018 San Diego Haute Couture Fashion Show


For those who could not make it and for those who want to re-live the  San Diego Haute Couture Fashion Show, the video is now available on our YouTube page! Also, all photos from the event and photo booth are available on the IIDA SoCal flickr page here.

Best Haute Couture – OCIO sponsored by Arcadia

Best Theme Inspiration – ID Studios sponsored by Think/Inscape/Mannington/Momentum

ID Studios Team, Kari Schultz and Courtney Kirian
ID Studios Team, Kari Schultz and Courtney Kirian

Best Theme Inspiration – ID Studios sponsored by Think/Inscape/Mannington/Momentum

Best Showmanship – HBG/RBN sponsored by Bernhardt/Tarkett

Best Craftsmanship – FPBA sponsored by Emser Tile

Best Student Team – Mesa College sponsored by MDC

People’s Choice – Mesa College sponsored by MDC


Thank you again to all our sponsors, design teams and committee who worked so hard to put this together. It was an amazing event and a fantastic night and we could not have done it without you.

2019 IIDA SoCal Student Portfolio Competition

The IIDA Southern California 2019 Student Portfolio Competition was held on Saturday, February 9th at the Herman Miller showroom, located at the base of Culver City’s Baldwin Hills Overlook. Taking part were 11 extremely talented and diverse students from four participating Southern California Schools.

Students arrived, as scheduled, throughout the day, carrying intricate models, stunning display boards, and various other materials with which to present their projects. There were two categories of competition this year – Social Relevance and Innovation – and $16,000 in scholarship awards up for grabs.

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

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


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

Back row, left to right: Ramona Quinn, Miguel Perez, IIDA SoCal VP Students; Rosela Barraza, HLW; James Arakelian, Environmental Contracting Corp.;  Mili Del Castillo, IIDA SoCal VP Students; Laurence Cartledge, Rottet; Claire Thompson, The Thompson Collaborative; David Loyola, Gensler; and Adam Simmons

Front Row; left to right: Gigi Gordinier and Scott Johnson, Wolcott

After a long day filled with nervous preparations and enthusiastic presentations, the judges deliberated to decide the most deserving honorees from among the many outstanding participants.


The Social Relevance category, with a $5,000 scholarship, was awarded to Andres Zavala from ArtCenter College of Design


The Innovation category, with a $5,000 scholarship, was awarded to Chahn Sung from ArtCenter College of Design


The honorable mention, with a $500 scholarship, was awarded to Melissa Ochoa from California State University Long Beach.

Congratulations to our winners and to all who participated! The awards will be formally presented at the 31st Annual IIDA Calibre Design Awards on Friday, May 17th, 2019.

See photos from the event here!

Mili Del Castillo and Miguel Perez, IIDA SoCal’s VP’s of Students Affairs, thank the hosts, judges, and students for helping to make this a memorable event!

Event Hosts
Herman Miller – Gigi Gordinier, Ramona Quinn, Adam Simmons

Chris Hatcher

A Designer In Need.


This past week, Brittany Renee Smith, a designer with Klawiter and Associates, was in a bad car accident leaving a job site in the Palm Springs area. She sustained significant head injuries, and the road to recovery will be substantial. She was recently airlifted to UCLA for more focused care. Anyone who knows Brittany can speak to her positive energy, her smile, and amazing kindness. IIDA SoCal sends all best wishes to Brittany and her family for a quick recovery. The family has set up a GoFundMe page here.

Announcing the 2019 Circle of Excellence!


Viveca Bissonnette, FIIDA, CID, LEED AP

With more than 30 years of professional experience in the fields of both cultural anthropology and interior design, Viveca Bissonnette brings a unique approach and broad breadth of experience and knowledge to her professional pursuits. As co-founder and design principal at Hollander Design Group (HDG) headquartered in San Diego, Viveca leads the firm’s workplace strategy practice employing ethnography to inform design. Outside of HDG, Viveca is actively involved in the design and art community. She is currently a member of the New School of Architecture’s interior design program advisory council and has held board positions with the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) and the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC), among other organizations. Most notably she has been deeply involved with the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), beginning with her involvement as a student, leading to her recognition in 2004 as one of ten designers to watch in the country as part of IIDA’s 10-year anniversary celebrations. Viveca was elected to the International Board of Directors in 2008 advancing to the roll of President in 2010. Viveca continued to serve on the International Board of Directors for 7 years. In 2011, Viveca was inducted into IIDA’s College of Fellows—the highest and most prestigious honor IIDA bestows.

Calibre Design Awards is Friday, May 17, 2019
Beverly Hilton Hotel | 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Sponsorship Opportunities are Available!
Click here for more information on sponsorship. Click here to become a sponsor today!


Spotlight on Jennifer Sun


The San Diego City Center Advocacy team recently had a wonderful conversation with our newest co-director, Jennifer Sun. While she is not new to holding a leadership position within IIDA nor to the community (she has been an integral part of the IIDA Fashion Show and a respected designer at FS Design Group for over four years), we thought it would be great to spend some time with Jennifer one-on-one to get to know more about her.

Q: What inspired you to begin a career in design?

A: Since I can remember I have always been creative and like to make things and spaces beautiful and functional.  It wasn’t till my early 30’s did I decide to go to school to make design and architecture my  career choice.

Q: What has been your greatest asset in studying for NCIDQ?

A: I have not started, but once I do, I am very excited to know that San Diego IIDA has a study group  and Christina Garvie (IIDA SOCAL Director of Professional Certifications).  Christina has been running  this group for a couple of years and has a lot of insight and knowledge of the certification process.  I  am planning on taking full advantage of this IIDA perk! 

Q: What has been your biggest challenge in studying for NCIDQ?

A: Qualifying for the test.  My education is non‐traditional for a commercial interior designer.  I have  two associate degrees: one in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising  and another in architecture from Mesa Community college.  I also have a bachelor’s degree in  economics from the University of California San Diego.  This background is considered non‐traditional, therefore NCIDQ requires an alternative review program that requires proof of 5 years of applicable  work experience, a $525 processing fee and an education and dossier review.  Short answer, lots of  additional paper work and money. Wish me luck! 

Q: What is your favorite project you have worked on? 

A: It’s difficult to choose a favorite because so many of the projects I have worked on have been  special or interesting. I have learned that even the most basic tenant improvement can present  unique challenges that must be addressed, resulting in valuable experience and knowledge.  But, if I  had to choose one, it would be Pacific Plaza at Torrey Hills.  The commercial complex was designed by  the architect Brian Paul in the late 90s.  My firm re‐imaged the lobbies, restrooms, elevators,  corridors, courtyard and gym.  I was able to work on the project from the schematic phase through  construction and completion.  It was a wonderful learning experience and the finished product was  very satisfying to all involved.

Q: What led you make the decision to take on a leadership role within IIDA? 

A: A little friendly peer pressure from some of my favorite people in the industry and the desire to  give back to the profession that has brought be so much joy.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration? 

A: In the organic forms and geometric lines that can be found in nature and science. 

Q: What is your absolute favorite thing about San Diego? 

A: The people and ocean.  I grew up in the San Fernando valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, and it was my  dream to be able to live near the water.  San Diego is quite diverse and overall a very warm  community.  There is a lot of love and compassion in this city and many people dedicated to making it  a wonderful place to live. 

Q: Who is your favorite designer or architect? 

A: My grandmother, Nancy Sun.  She is gone now but she was my inspiration to study  architecture.  She was a female architect in New York city from 1960s to the early 1990s and worked  for I. M. Pei.  You should see her hand drawn details and renderings.  Absolutely exquisite. 

Q: How would you describe your design style? 

A: I am not really sure if a have a particular “style”.  I do prefer to design with neutral colors, clean  lines and natural finishes and when appropriate adding pops of whimsy and color with furniture,  accessories and art.  

Q: What do you do to unwind after a long day? 

A: I am very into fitness, so I tend to unwind daily with a workout at the gym or a yoga class. The more  sweat the better! I also enjoy ending the day sewing and snuggling in bed with my cats with a good  book… Thanks for spending some time with us Jennifer. We are so excited to have you as co‐director of the San  Diego City Center of IIDA! 

View the LA Haunt Couture Horrorscope Video!


Are you ready to recap the excitement from the industry’s biggest design competition? Check out our video {here} which captures the teams behind the scenes and their magical performances on stage including the winners from each category. More photos of the teams and their imaginative zodiac costumes can be found on our Flickr page {here}.

Thank you to all of our team participants, Event and Chapter Sponsors, and our guest judges for making HORRORSCOPE another successful LA Haunt Couture!

Mary Beth Caccitolo, IIDA, NCIDQ