A view from the outside: IARc Open House

On Friday, January 20, Justin McNair and Alyssa Hankus guided one of the several tours the department puts on each semester for prospective students. In typical fashion, the tour started in the lobby, where Justin spoke about the Solar Decathlon project organized in Washington DC. His involvement in this project let the students and their parents understand how designers progress through the program. As eyes lit up in amazement, the tour continued past the art gallery to the basement to greet faculty member Matt Jones in the woodshop.  Justin explained to the tour group that Matt is excellent in terms of helping everyone and it was great to see Matt in action.  Justin pointed out the foundry and ceramics rooms also located in the basement, telling everyone that although we aren’t necessarily part of that vicinity, “don’t be afraid of the art department.”

Continuing up to the main studio areas on the third floor, Justin showed his own model for a previous project that led into discussion of CAM Studio. It’s important for everyone to realize how many resources are available to create a final product that’s worth all the hard work. When you are able to see your ideas some to life, that’s when you know you have succeeded. This idea comes across strongly through Patrick Lucas’ [3rd] year studio projects with the reconstruction of the Jackson Library + our own Gatewood Studio building. Community engagement plays a major role in the IARc program, and with those examples, that was greatly pushed upon the prospective students. Talking to Hannah Mendoza’s [2nd] year studio, the tour group understood that studios vary greatly, with Professor Mendoza’s holding a very conceptual approach to design. A quick look into the IARc Library and Natuzzi Lounge and with a speedy view of the 4th floor,  Justin finished off the tour.

Lastly, Tommy Lambeth, the previous head of the department spoke to the group. He sbegan with the progression of expectations + complexities from year to year and how important is the studio atmosphere. “First year is about trial and error,” stated Tommy. “One of the first things I tell my first years is how I’m going to teach them how to fail.” A few chuckles arise in the room as he goes on to say that it’s the only way to truly figure out who you are not only as a designer, but as a person. It’s all about development. He then goes on to draw his famous “donut diagram,” something I’m sure all present and former IARc students remember (even if vaguely.)

The importance of the Open House is obvious; whether a student is straight out of high school or has previous experience, the event allows all prospective designers to get an inside peek at what our program has to offer. I spoke with a wonderful woman named Erin Griffin, providing as much information as I could so she could get a basic understanding from an “insider.” She has experience in furniture making but still had the itch to see what interior design was all about. It’s never too late to follow your true passions and the Open House is perfect to test the waters.

Contributed by Paige Hohlt, Photos by Kate Ewen


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