IIDA Campus Centers are an invaluable part of the design community that offer students, educators, and design professionals an opportunity to work together on different projects and initiatives. The exchange of ideas and creative development between young and emerging designers as well as established industry leaders is essential to driving innovation and shaping the future of interior design.
For students, IIDA membership also offers the opportunity to gain leadership and professional development experience outside of the classroom, in the association, on their campus, and with their peers. This can include everything from program development, budgeting, marketing, and event planning, to learning how to navigate within the structure of an organization.
Every spring, IIDA recognizes a campus center through the IIDA Campus Center Awards, sponsored by OFS, for exceptional achievement in program development that contributes to the local interior design community and profession. Each center that applies for the Best Thing Ever Award is considered for the Campus Center of the Year award and is recognized by their local chapter at a local event, featured on IIDA.org and in the student newsletter QUAD, and is eligible for the $1,000 prize.
Our 2020 Campus Center of the Year and winner of the Best Thing Ever submission is Arizona State University, part of the IIDA Southwest Chapter. Their hard work and dedication towards the annual Light for Hope event raised funds for Free Arts, a nonprofit organization in Arizona, and serves as an example that organizing and working with the larger design community moves the industry forward. We reached out to the student members at Arizona State that contributed to the process to offer insights and tips for campus centers to start planning to enter for next year’s award.
Alia Sugarman, Student IIDA, IIDA Co-President, Arizona State University Campus Center
Rachel Frail, Student IIDA, Philanthropy Aficionado, Arizona State University Campus Center
Fayrooz Sweis, Student IIDA, Membership Guru, Arizona State University Campus Center
Kiana Taie, Associate IIDA, VP of Student Affairs, IIDA Southwest Chapter
Callie Elsner, Associate IIDA, Director of Student Affairs, Southwest Chapter
IIDA: Why should Campus Centers apply for the Best Thing Ever, and what does the award help you to accomplish going forward?
Alia Sugarman: Campus centers should apply for the IIDA Best Thing Ever award to get recognition for the hard work and dedication they put into making their event possible. The Interiors Students Alliance (ISA) at ASU spends months preparing all the moving parts that go into making Light for Hope come to life. This award helps us promote this philanthropic event to become as big as our parent chapter’s events. We take inspiration from the IIDA Southwest events like Couture and PRIDE. These industry events provide background and a sense of what is possible. We hope to grow Light for Hope to be a distinguishing event for Arizona State University and to attract more professionals.
IIDA: Can you walk us through the submission process?
Alia Sugarman: I took the lead in the submission process with the help of my cabinet members. I wanted to highlight in our presentation that each of the cabinet members has a personal passion for our organization and efforts. As the IIDA campus center co-president, I worked on professional development in partnership with IIDA Southwest. Rachel Frail is our philanthropy aficionado who is in charge of the Light for Hope event, and she helped me with the Best Thing Ever Award section of the submission. Fayrooz Sweis is our membership guru and she assisted me with our membership portion of the submission. Collaborating on the submission will not only save time but will provide a better perspective from experts from those parts of your organization. It should be fun to share what your campus has done and not stressful!
IIDA: What should other IIDA campus centers know about the Interiors Student Alliance (ISA) at the Arizona State University Campus Center, which combines IIDA, ASID (Association of Interior Designers), and NEWH (The Hospitality Industry Network) chapters on campus? How did it form, and what are the overlaps?
Alia Sugarman: This is my favorite part of the Interiors Student Alliance at Arizona State University! We saw how the industry collaborates with different professionals and we wanted to create an organization to bring all three parent chapters together for our interior design students. Our goal was to create a professional network hub for design students so that students like myself who have felt overwhelmed with choosing an organization to join can be involved in all three. Attending separate meetings for the parent chapters conflicts with busy student schedules, so we developed ISA at ASU as a place for all the interior parent chapters to come together for the students. This was a way to show students how the commercial, residential, and hospitality design have a world for students to explore at Arizona State University. Exposure to all three helps build a great foundation.
IIDA: How did your campus center become involved with/connected to Free Arts Arizona, and how long have you had this relationship for? What is the chapter’s role in the relationship (if any)?
Rachel Frail: ISA’s relationship with Free Arts began in 2017. The organization was selected for its mission which promotes growth and healing for children through the arts. The relationship began with a donation of proceeds from ISA’s first Light for Hope event. This year, ISA was able to expand upon this relationship with a visit to the newly renovated Free Arts Arizona facility and participation in Free Arts’ annual Flutterfest event at the Desert Botanical Gardens. The hope is this relationship will continue to grow over time and allow ISA members to volunteer more consistently throughout the school year.
IIDA: Why is it important for campus centers to find or work with a philanthropy partner, and what do you recommend to campus leaders that are looking to make that connection?
Fayrooz Sweis: Working with a philanthropy partner is important because it provides campus centers an opportunity to engage with and give back to their local community. It also allows students to come together for a common cause and to positively impact the lives of others in their community—an ethical responsibility that is inherent in our work as designers. Here at ASU, the interior design program offers students several opportunities to engage with philanthropy partners and the local community through projects that are part of the program curriculum. The partnership we have with Free Arts is not only a continuation of this philanthropy culture within our program but also an expansion of our efforts to provide students with meaningful opportunities beyond the classroom to learn and have a positive impact on their communities which is what makes this connection successful.
IIDA: What about for individual students—how does producing or supporting volunteer and philanthropic events contribute to their personal and career growth?
Rachel Frail: Experiencing the gift of art and design is invaluable, and supporting an organization that gives this gift so freely to children is priceless. Specifically in supporting Free Arts through Light for Hope, students were able to share their talents and passion while developing new skills. Students gain professional exposure and are able to develop an entirely new skill set of event design, marketing, venue booking, contest creation, etc. We were able to see the direct results of our contributions when we quadrupled our donation this year.—and it wasn’t easy! The committee really pushed themselves, and I don’t think that would have been the case if there wasn’t growth occurring at the individual level.
Moreover, being able to produce and support philanthropic events helps students realize their potential in positively impacting their community. I think so often in this world we feel helpless in creating change as an individual, but this experience really proved students can make an impact. There is power in the knowledge that we. can not only envision a different way of doing things, but we can design and execute it. There is power in the confidence gained from this experience, and I would highly suggest philanthropic involvement for all students.
IIDA: Why is it important to highlight campus center activities and projects to the greater IIDA membership community?
Fayrooz Sweis: By highlighting campus center activities and projects to the greater IIDA membership community we contribute to the collective success of our community by sharing the capabilities of individual campus centers to provide opportunities for academic and professional growth and development. Showcasing the many successes and inspirations that we could draw on from within our IIDA community also allows us to celebrate our successes and efforts. It also demonstrates to prospective members the value of membership and involvement with the campus centers and the many ways in which they can distinguish themselves professionally.
IIDA: What is most exciting about working with the ASU Campus Center now and looking to the future, and how does the professional community support this program/event?
Alia Sugarman: The most exciting part about being involved with ISA at ASU is how much growth we’ve achieved in three years and the plans we have to continue that growth. As a recent graduate, I’ve realized that my goal with the ASU Campus Center was to bring the professional community to our students—professionals have always been excited to collaborate with ISA by hosting firm tours and professional development workshops, but since ISA brings together IIDA, ASID, and NEWH, we must encourage all three organizations as a whole.
Rachel Frail: ISA has so many benefits for students from professional development to the community we are building within the walls of ASU’s Design School. I think for me the most exciting part about working with ISA is getting to see our potential for impact in our community and in our school. As a graduate student, I often get caught thinking I don’t have enough time in my schedule to add extracurriculars. But truth be told, my experiences in ISA and giving back to the community have been the most rewarding experience of my graduate education. In the future, I would love to see an increase in professional involvement at our Light for Hope event in addition to attending the event and assisting in marketing, we would like to open up another layer of involvement and invite professionals to donate their own light creations!
Fayrooz Sweis: Our ASU Campus Center is unique in that it brings together IIDA, ASID, and NEWH in such a collaborative community for interior design students on campus. It was most exciting for me to see our chapter grow this past year offering more opportunities to connect, learn, and create through our bi-monthly Lunch Breaks and software tutorials, our Light for Hope event, and through chapter events with IIDA, ASID, and NEWH. As we continue to create events and projects to serve our campus community, I think it will be important to expand on the support of the professional communities of each of our parent organizations, extending the invitation to professionals to engage more directly with our students and campus events allowing students to draw on the professionals’ experience, and expand their professional network.
Kiana + Callii: The ASU students have a consistently strong presence in all things IIDA. Their eagerness to promote membership and the design industry over the years has been inspiring to watch. Our Southwest professional community not only attends Light for Hope every year but supports this event by bidding and purchasing the student-made lights. We are excited to see this event grow and are grateful that IIDA allows our students the opportunity to highlight their ambition and this unique initiative.
View the 2020 Campus Center Awards entry projects, and learn more about submitting your own project here.