Tag Archives: rising stars

IIDA Los Angeles 2020 Student Expo


Please join us for this year’s LA City Center Student Design Expo held on Thursday, March 12th at HOK’s Culver City office.
The Student Design Expo is a unique opportunity for design students to showcase their work and network with tenured industry leaders. Students will have the platform to discuss their selected project in front our IIDA Board Member judges. This year, awards will be given for Best in Show and People’s Choice, the recipients each receiving a cash prize. Following the student presentations, a panel of recognized industry professionals will address the audience to discuss presentation techniques and how new technologies and medium are influencing our industry.

The esteemed group of panelists this year includes:
Rachel Rosenberg, Associate, Sr. Project Interior Designer, HOK
David Swartz, Senior Partner, HLW
Sean Kim, Interiors Studio Leader, Vice President, Corgan
Brooke Edwards, Vice President, Cresa
Scott Johnson, Principal, Wolcott (Moderator)


This event is open to both members and non-members. For additional event information and to purchase tickets, check out the event page here. See you on the 12th!

Student Design Charette 2019

The 2019 IIDA Southern California Chapter Student Design Charette was held on Saturday November 2nd at the Gensler Office in Newport Beach.  Student Members of IIDA from 11 schools all over Southern California came to compete for cash prizes and the chance to go on to the Regional Design Charette Competition next Spring.

Twenty-eight students were divided randomly into six teams to design a creative office space in a historic building site located in the revitalized Broadway District of Downtown Los Angeles.  Each team had 4.5 hours and limited resources to imagine and communicate a space that included an Arrival Lounge, Creative Office Space, Conference Room, Private Modular Offices and a Coffee Shop.  Time management and the ability to work well with a team were critical to the outcome for each group.


After ‘pencil’s down!’ was called, students and volunteers enjoyed a power lunch, generously provided by Mohawk, and prepared themselves to present their work to the judges.  The panel of judges included Tom Ventura, Design Director for Gensler Newport Beach; Sarah McNally, Materials Consultant for 3form and IIDA SoCal VP of City Centers; and Saul Acosta, Principal of DA Lighting.


Each team was given 5 minutes to explain their design concept and solution with floor plans, elevations, sketches, renderings and materials displayed on a 30”x42” board.  Judgement criteria included support of concept, creativity, clarity of design, feasibility, presentation skills and proportionate team participation.

While the judges deliberated, our hosts from Gensler – Derek Chen and Carlos Munoz – gave the students a tour of their Newport Beach Office, which was a thoroughly enjoyed ‘peek behind the curtain’ into the environment of a true design industry titan.

After much consideration, the judges decided to bring back three teams for additional Q&A that would help them determine the first and second prize winners.  These awards will be presented at the IIDA Calibre Design Awards in May 2020, and the first-place team will go on to compete at the Regional Charette Competition in Northern California next April.

The winners were:


1st Place Team – “Limelight” – $10,000 Award
Rebecca Williamson – San Diego Mesa College
Victoria Moore – Saddleback College
Rosario Felix – California State University – Northridge
Anna Grubinski Ossyra – Woodbury University
Soon-Young Kwon – Interior Designers Institute


2nd Place Team – “Under the Top” – $4,000 Award
Natasha Rusli – OTIS College of Art and Design
Brianna Dumais –  California State University, Long Beach
Stephanie Towers – Saddleback College
Ashley Ramos – Chaffey College

All participating schools included OTIS, San Diego Mesa College, Woodbury, Art Center, Interior Designers Institute, Mount San Antonio College, Saddleback College, Chaffey College, California State University Long Beach, California State University Northridge, Design Institute of San Diego.

Miguel Perez and Jillian Potts, IIDA SoCal’s VPs of Student Affairs, thanks the students, judges, sponsors and volunteers for making this event a huge success!  And thank you to the campus faculty advisors who support their students by including them in IIDA opportunities like this!


Event Sponsors
Mohawk – Lisa Van Niekerk
Milliken – Jillian Potts

A very special thank you to our Gensler hosts Derek Chen and Carlos Munoz who helped organize the day and shared their office with IIDA’s students. Additional thanks goes to OTIS College for providing easels and to LACC Student Affairs Chair, Paul Shaia from Gerflor, and IIDA SoCal’s Regional Student Affairs Director, James Arakelian, for their assistance with the event.

See all of the student charette photos here.

Thank you to Chris Hatcher Photography for documenting the event.

IIDA SoCal Mentorship/Emerging Leader Member Survey

IIDA_StudentMentoring_02_500pxIn alignment with IIDA’s mission to provide meaningful resources to commercial interior designers and their clients to advance the profession, your Southern California chapter is starting two new programs in 2020 – a Mentorship Program and an Emerging Leaders program.


The Mentorship Program is a direct mentoring program where we will pair senior leaders with junior designers for 6 months for monthly one-on-one meetups. These meetups could range from coffee talks, to project walks, to attending a business development event together – depending on what the mentee and mentor decide upon. The goal is to provide a more personalized mentoring opportunity for designers, connect the community, and elevate skills.

The Emerging Leaders program would consist of a group of 25-30 emerging designers in each City Center accepted through a selection/nomination process. The goal of the program is to provide specific, intensive workshops geared towards young design leaders who are growing from “doing” tasks to “leading” in their firms and the industry. Ideally, nominees would have several years of work experience and are ready for the type of content, mentoring and networking offered. The program is comprised of an 11-month curriculum with workshops being taught by experts focusing on a new topic each month. Examples could be: how to tell a story, contractor talk, real estate basics with a broker, personal finance. This program requires dedication to showing up and actively participate in all 11 workshops. Once the program is completed, IIDA requires the class of Emerging Leaders to give back and join an IIDA committee in their city center the following year.

Please take this short survey to help us gage interest in these programs and roll them out in a beneficial manner. Look for more information on the programs later this year.

Student Design Charette “The Block”

The 2018 IIDA Southern California Student Design Charette was on Saturday, November 3th and held at Tangram Interiors in Newport Beach.

After a delicious and energizing breakfast, generously provided by Crossville, the twenty-nine students who gathered from all around Southern California broke into six teams to design a concept for a creative co-working space. The project-setting being “The Block”, a redesigned “anti-mall” in the heart of the historical Financial District of DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles), the students had just 4.5 hours and limited resources to collaborate and create a space that included an arrival area, a lounge, a flexible conference room, and enclosed, modular offices spaces.

When time was called, each team had only five minutes to present their ideas to a panel of distinguished judges, pictured below.


From left-to-right:
Robyn Taylor, Director of Design – Westgroup Designs
Mili Del Castillo – VP Student Affairs
Melanie Murata, Designer – Gensler Newport Beach
Edgardo Caceres, Design Director – Gensler DTLA

While the judges deliberated, Amanda Ortiz from last year’s Charette winning team, gave a brief, inspiring presentation detailing her further win at IIDA’s 2018 Western Regional Charette.


Afterwards, the exhausted students happily feasted on a bountiful lunch provided by Humanscale, as the judges conducted interviews with each team to allow them to further explain their concepts and inspirations. To culminate this exhausting and exciting day, the 1st and 2nd place winners were finally announced!

Awards will be presented to the students at the IIDA Calibre Design Awards on May 17, 2019.

The winners are:


First Place Team – $10,000 Award

From left-to-right:
Suchada Eickemeyer, Design Institute of San Diego
Micayla Brewer, Saddleback College
Xiaoling Su, Otis College of Art + Design
Tania Mercado, Mt. San Antonio College
Mili Del Castillo, VP Student Affairs


Second Place Team– $4,000 Award

From left-to-right:
Karina Gonzales, California State University Long Beach
Isabella Pina, California State University Northridge
Soon-Young Kwon, Interior Designers Institute
Sean Diaz, Saddleback College
Maricela Gomez, Chaffey College
Mili Del Castillo, VP Student Affairs

Mili Del Castillo and Miguel Perez, IIDA SoCal’s VP’s of Student Affairs, thank the hosts, sponsors, volunteers, students and photographer for helping to make this event a huge success!

Click  here to see photos from the event!

Event Sponsors:
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) – Dan Lu & Mili Del Castillo
Crossville – Sasha Ikovic & Monica Farley
Humanscale – John Harrington
Tangram Interiors – Marisa Anderson, Karlee Budge & Bianca Lopez

Thank you to Linda Pollari & Wolf Herrera from OTIS College of Art and Design for providing the easels. Special thanks to Kenneth Balaski and Geoff Allen for all their generous help with the event.

Thanks also to Chris Hatcher Photography for documenting the event.

2018 IIDA Western Region Student Design Charette | Juror Spotlight

The IIDA 2018 Western Region Student Design Charette will be held in Portland, OR on April 7th, 2018 and will feature students from the Association’s Northern PacificOregon, Northern CaliforniaSouthern California and Southwest Chapters. Charette teams will present their design solutions to a panel of renowned jurors from the Western Region and beyond, who will then select a winning team to advance to the next level of Interior Design Charette competition at Neocon 2018. We are thrilled to announce this year’s jury and are grateful for their participation and support!

Interior Designer
Firm: Bostwick Design Partnership

Beth Harmon-Vaughan, PhD, FIIDA, LEED-AP
Principal / Managing Studio Director

Firm: Gensler

Richelle Nolan,  IIDA, ASID, CCIDC
Principal / Managing Studio Director

Firm: IA Interior Architects

Read more about the judges on the IIDA Oregon website here.

What is a Charette?


Simply put, a charette is an intense design exercise within a set (and often all too short) period of time. A derivative of the French word for ‘cart’, the term refers to a time when students of the école des Beaux-Arts would be so committed to their final projects that they would work feverishly on the final touches until a ‘cart’ came around to collect them. Some students would even climb up onto the cart and continue to put the finishing touches on their work as it was wheeled around the studio!

Charettes have since evolved to include sessions of ideation amongst teams. In the workplace, they are often used to kick-off and invigorate the schematic design phase. This collaborative setting allows for the free flow of thought between designers, where ideas build upon each other until a fitting concept or design solution is found. The energy exhibited during a charette highlights the power and possibility of design. It is a positive and rejuvenating experience that reinforces the value of working together as a team.

Kiana Taie, a winning team member of the IIDA Southwest Chapter Regional Finals, describes her experience at the 2017 Student Design Charette as invaluable and a great opportunity for networking with professional Interior Designers.

“I am a member of the IIDA Southwest Chapter and with the recommendation of a classmate, participated in the IIDA Student Design Charette in the Spring of 2017 while I was in my second year as a Master of Interior Architecture student at Arizona State University. My team won the local competition and proceeded onto regionals, which happened to also be in Phoenix. After the regional event, a member of the planning committee invited me to come in and interview at her office. Thanks to the exposure from the Charette, I am now a designer at the Gensler Phoenix office, and was even on the committee this past Fall! I strongly encourage students to participate because this unique event is unlike any other in our industry. The experience is exhilarating, you have the opportunity to work with talented individuals and potentially travel!”

The Western Region Chapters of IIDA (Northern PacificNorthern CaliforniaSouthern CaliforniaOregonSouthwest, and Rocky Mountain)  are excited to offer charette competitions to IIDA Student Members as a way to highlight their exceptional talents while providing them with an experience that will better prepare them for their future as professionals. Students are encouraged to sign up for the Regional Qualifiers being held this February through their IIDA Chapters. Winners of the local events will be flown to the Western Region Student Design Charette finals, which will be held this year in Portland, Oregon on April 7th, 2018. Stay tuned for more information about what to expect for the Regional event and which winners will move on to the International Finals at NeoCon in Chicago this June!


Photos by Andy Green, IIDA Southwest Chapter. Content by Sarah Weber & Elsa Long, IIDA Oregon Chapter – Past Presidents, and Claire Smith, IIDA Oregon Chapter –  VP of Communications.

Student Portfolio Competition Event Recap


The IIDA Southern California 2018 Student Portfolio Competition was held on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at the brand new and beautiful Knoll Inc. showroom located high in the skyline of downtown Los Angeles. Taking part were 13 extremely talented and diverse students from 6 participating Southern California Schools.

See 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 2 categories of competition this year and $16,000 in scholarship awards:

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:

•  David Fridlund – Wirt Design Group – Past President, IIDA

•  Laurence Cartledge – Rottet Studio – Former Judge

•  Stephanie Heiple – SAA Architects & Interior Designers – Current President IIDA

•  Scott Johnson – Wolcott – Past President, IIDA

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

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

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


The Social Relevance category, with a $7,000 scholarship, was awarded to Melissa Yip from California State University Long Beach


The Innovation category, with a $7,000 scholarship, was awarded to Melissa Nguyen from Art center College of Design.


The honorable mention with a $2,000 scholarship, was awarded to

Afshin Homayoonmehr from San Diego Mesa College.

Congratulations to our winner students and to all who participated! The awards will be formally presented at the 30th Annual IIDA Calibre Design Awards on Friday, May 18th 2018.

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:
Knoll – Hana Dorani & Bill Yount
Tri-kes – Jamalle French

Event Volunteer:
Kenneth Balaski

2017 Student Charette Recap


A tranquil trek through Noguchi Garden in Costa Mesa is a splendid way to spend a bright sunny morning. However, just a few steps away, you would hear the buzz of activity and creativity. The 2017 IIDA Southern California Student Design Charette was held on Saturday, November 4th and hosted by Pivot Interiors in Costa Mesa.

Click here to see photos from the event!

After a delicious and energizing breakfast, generously provided by Maharam, thirty of the finest students from Interior Design Programs in schools throughout Southern California were grouped into six teams and challenged to design a New Holistic concept to include a Spa, Yoga, Beauty Salon, Retail & Organic restaurant. This project was located at The Bloc, a redesigned “anti-mall” in the heart of the historical Financial District in Downtown Los Angeles. The teams had just 4.5 hours and limited resources to collaborate and come up with creative design solutions.

When time was called, each design team had only 5 minutes to present their exciting projects to a distinguished panel of judges that included:

Aram Arakelian, Founder – Environmental Contracting Corporation
Susan Molina, Principal – One Design Collective
Robyn Taylor, Director of Design – Westgroup Designs
Sandi Warneke, Design Principal & Studio Director – Gensler

While the judges deliberated, Clarence Vong, from last year’s Charette winning team, gave a brief inspiring presentation detailing his further win at the Regional Competition and his trip to Chicago. Edward Wodill and Trish Drummy of Pivot Interiors also spoke with the students at length about the design industry and careers.

While the exhausted students happily feasted on a bountiful lunch, provided by Daltile, the judges conducted interviews with each team to allow them to further explain their concepts and inspirations. To culminate this exhausting and exciting day, the 1st and 2nd place winners were finally announced. Prizes will be presented at The Calibre Awards on May 18, 2018.

The winners are:


First Place Team – $10,000 Scholarship Award

From left-to-right with Co-VPs Jessica Collins and Edgardo Caceres
Rachel Escobedo, Art Institute of California – San Diego
Amanda Ortiz, Chaffey College
Joshua Chang, Otis College of Art + Design
Kacie Thomas, Interior Designers Institute
Tsz Yan Leung, Mt. San Antonio College


Second Place Team– $4,000 Scholarship Award

From left-to-right with Co-VPs Jessica Collins and Edgardo Caceres
Natalia Kim, Interior Designers Institute
Isabel Alfaro, Art Institute – San Diego
Ellen To, Mt. San Antonio College
Avana Grayr, California State University Long Beach
Brianna Johnson, UCLA Extension/Cal Poly Pomona

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

Event Sponsors:

Daltile – Zoe Rahimi-Nolen  & KJ Lodge’
Maharam – Vanessa Veloso
Pivot Interiors – Edward Wodill & Trish Drummy
Environmental Contracting Corporation – Aram Arakelian

Event Volunteer:
Kenneth Balaski

Calibre Celebrates the Winners of the Student Awards Programs!

This year’s IIDA Southern California Student Awards Program included a Portfolio Competition and a Student Design Charette.

Student Design Charette
Thirty students from Interior Design Programs throughout Southern California were selected to compete in this prestigious design challenge. The students were grouped into teams of five 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 historical Downtown Los Angeles in the Broadway Trade Building.  Teams had 4.5 hours to collaborate and come up with creative design solutions using only hand drawing and rendering, after which, they presented to a distinguished panel of judges comprised of local Interior Design and Construction industry professionals.

The winning team will be awarded $10,000 at the Calibre Design Awards. This team went on to represent IIDA SoCal and compete in the Western Region Student Design Charette held in Phoenix, AZ.


First place team from left to right:
Edgardo Caceres, VP Student Affairs, IIDA SoCal
John Corpuz, Mt. San Antonio College
Aram Arakelian, Regional Student Affairs Director, IIDA SoCal
Odalis Guerrero-Hernandez, Woodbury
Eva Gao, Design Institute San Diego
Clarence Vong, CSU Northridge
Tanner Geertsen, Otis College of Art and Design
Jessica Collins, VP Student Affairs, IIDA SoCal

Student Portfolio Competition
Twenty student members participated in this interview-style event in two categories –  Social Relevance and Innovation. Additionally, the Stephanie Tarr Memorial Award was given to a student for outstanding community service and student leadership in IIDA. Each student earned a $5,000 scholarship prize. Winners include Rae Chye (Art Center College of Design) – Innovation Category, SuSun Kwak (Art Center College of Design) – Social Relevance Category, and Angela Hickman (California State University Long Beach) – Stephanie Tarr Award.


Congratulations to all the student winners!

Tickets are selling fast!
Tickets are $325/each and Tables of 10 are $3,250
Purchase tickets here.

The 29th Calibre Design Awards winners
will be announced at the Gala Event:

Friday, May 19, 2017
Beverly Hilton | 9876 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

6pm Reception
7pm Dinner and Presentation

Click here to see the 2017 nominated projects and teams.

Contact office@iida-socal.org


2017 IIDA Western Regional Student Design Charette


Our VP’s of Students Affairs Jessica Collins & Edgardo Caceres, together with the 1st place winners of the our IIDA SoCal Student Charette will be traveling to Phoenix, AZ for the IIDA Western Region Student Design Charette from April 7th to 9th. Student team winners from each of 6 West Coast Chapters will  join to participate and compete. The students will be randomly re-assign to new teams and given 5 hours to come up with a design solution for a commercial project. Floor plans, renderings, models, sketches, details & material selection will be presented to a panel of prestigious judges.  The wining team will be advancing to the final at Neocon in Chicago.

We would like to thank our friends from the Southwest Chapter and the Phoenix office of Gensler for hosting and our generous sponsors. To learn more about the event & sponsors please check link below.