IDEC 2016 Annual Conference: 3 IIDA Members Share Their Experiences

Since its official formation in 1963, IDEC, the Interior Design Educators Council, has been dedicated to advancing interior design education, scholarship, and service. One of the big ways the council contributes to the practice and profession has been through its annual conference. This year’s “Interior Design Matters” themed conference took place on March 9-12 in Portland, Oregon. We spoke with two educators and one student to get their takes on what the conference meant to them and a glimpse into what interior design education looks like now – and in the future.

IDEC 2016 Attendees:

Jean Edwards, IIDA, Professor of Interior Design, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Greta Buehrle, IIDA, Senior Lecturer, University of North Texas

Sally (Braine) Merriman, Student IIDA, Interior Design Student, Oklahoma State University

What about the 2016 IDEC Conference excited you the most?

Jean: I was excited to attend and participate in the pre-conference Teaching Symposium. Since teaching is what I do every day, it was gratifying to share those experiences with others and to learn alternative strategies for dealing with student issues that seem to come up for all of us. It is a challenge to actually know that students are learning and what are the best ways to help that happen.

Greta: I always come to IDEC excited about the old and new connections I will make. IDEC is such a family, and it’s fun to see and be inspired by educators from across North America and other parts of the world. This year, I was particularly excited to attend the inaugural IDEC Academy Teaching Symposium called Teach 2 Reach. It was a one-day symposium that focused on student learning and engagement. As educators, no matter our experience level, we still need to continually hone and shape our teaching skills and methods.

Sally: I think hearing the conference numbers growing from last year was really exciting. It shows how much interior design education and research is becoming a part of the conversation in our everyday careers.

What CEUs did you attend and what did you learn?

Jean: The following events were the most meaningful for me: the Teaching Symposium; the keynote address, “Proximities, Inhabitations, Identities: Interior Matter” by Graeme Brooker; “Design Process Rubrics: Identifying and Enhancing Critical Thinking in Creative Problem Solving” by Marlo Ransdell; and “Personalia: The Meaning of Things at the Desks of Routine Office Workers” by Lynn Chalmers. Graeme’s talk was inspiring and put the joy of exploration and the need to be able to fail back into the conversation about interior design. Marlo’s was extremely useful for the development of a way to assess critical thinking and creativity. And Lynn’s fascinating study really gets to the heart of what near spaces and their furnishings mean to real people, and how real people use their workspaces.

Greta: This year, I attended a variety of presentations that spanned from the sleep patterns of interior design students, to a teaching project that allowed students to explore how design could affect those recovering from opioid addictions, to a panel discussion about online courses in design. At IDEC you never know what you’ll be inspired by!

Sally: I really enjoyed “Lighting Considerations in Healthcare Applications: An Extrapolation from Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification Guidelines (EDAC).” I think evidence-based design is the way of the future for all interiors, and this was a really interesting conversation on how it was integrated into a classroom setting.  I wanted to go to “A Case Study Examining the CCT of Fluorescent Lighting on Student On-task Behavior in an Elementary School Classroom” because it was the thesis for one of my professors. She has had the opportunity to study the lighting conditions in education settings for young children. It is interesting to compare that to other medical studies about things that affect a student’s ability to concentrate.

Based on what you learned, how do you as a teacher see the future of interior design education?

Jean: Interior design education needs to accelerate and expand its connections to and collaboration with other disciplines. This will require interior design practitioners as well as educators to do a better job of communicating the value and expertise that interior designers bring to the table in any collaboration.

Greta: The future of design education is truly an open book. What does the future look like? It’s technically advanced– whether via drones, 3-D technologies, or virtual reality. I think there will be more opportunities for online coursework, and we’re trying to figure out how that really works and what the advantages and disadvantages might be. And I think there will be more and more opportunities to stretch the boundaries of interior design, for international and cross-disciplinary collaboration. It’s exciting!

What will you take back with you and apply when you return to the classroom?

Jean: I need to keep reinforcing to my students the importance of interior design and what it contributes to the health and well-being of real people. I need to focus on helping my students gain confidence in their knowledge and the importance of interior design to the built environment.

Greta: I always come away with a notebook full of ideas! This year, I’m working on developing a graduate level online sustainability course, so I was particularly focused on gathering resources and ideas for this class.

 The theme of this year’s conference was “Interior Design Matters.” Why does interior design matter to you?

Jean: Interiors are where I, and most everyone, live, work, and play. A well-designed interior supports the efficacy and pleasure of all these activities.

Greta: Interior design matters because I believe it carries with it the opportunity to effect positive change in our communities, societies, and the world.

Sally: Interior design matters to me because it is essential to the human experience in everyday life. I had to spend a lot of time in the healthcare setting with my brother and we even had a conversation about interior design. He had cancer and asked if I knew how to fix him. I said, “No, but I could probably make your experience a lot better and you more comfortable just by altering this room.” We laughed and then continued on about how horrible the wallpaper was, showing just how much it affects everyone without them necessarily knowing it.


Missed this year’s conference? Visit the IDEC website to access presentations and view the conference slideshow.

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