Tag Archives: Student Charette

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.

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

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

2014–2015 SoCal Student Charette Recap


The 2015 IIDA Southern California Chapter Student Charette took place this past November 15th at Tangram Interiors in Newport Beach. 35 students from 13 SoCal schools were divided into 7 teams, and were assigned the same project; a historical building in the Los Angeles area with an existing courtyard space, complete with a therapy pool that was not in use. The program focused on three types of companies that would be occupying the overall interior space and outdoor courtyard. The students were charged with finding the best use of space for each company, while fulfilling the program requirements which included the use of the courtyard as an integral collaborative area. As part of the challenge, the students had to present a creative concept using the entire space to accommodate the different users’ needs, while employing a defined strategy for how to overlap and resolve privacy requirements for each company.

The winning teams showed their understanding of each company’s needs and functions through careful analysis of the programming information provided to them. They also found innovative and creative ways to connect all three companies together in pockets of the space, inside and outdoors. The winners also used the time given most effectively, and demonstrated their individual skills used to solve and present their team’s solution.

Judges included Aram Arakelian, Affil. IIDA Founder, Environmental Contracting Corp. and Founder of the IIDA Scholarship Program; David Fridlund, IIDA, Past President, IIDA and Principal at Wirt Design; Scott Johnson, IIDA, CID, IALD, LEED AP, Past President, IIDA and Principal at Wolcott; Brett A. Shwery, IIDA, CID, LEED AP BD+C, Senior VP & Global Director, Strategic Accounts at HOK. The program was produced by student affairs co-VP Cassie Sanchez Agbada, IIDA, CID, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC at Gensler, Los Angeles and Trish Drummy at Pivot Interiors, Orange County.

Winners of the competition, Team 5 (Names from L to R) Afsoon Firoozeh, CSUN; Erika De La Parra, OCC; Raymond Tran, Otis; Eric Pelayo AIC-IE; Kerry Vandermuelen, IDI. Winning team members will collect their $10,000 prize money at the 2015 Calibre Awards and will represent SoCal at the Regional Design Charette in OC next April 11, and Regional team winners with represent the West Coast Region at the National Student Charette in June at Neocon in Chicago on June 16, 2015.

Susan Steinlauf