Apparel, interior design students collaborate for real-world experience

Tedi Mathis

This semester, two majors paired up for a project to prepare them for life in the real world. Interior design students were grouped with apparel, merchandising and design students to create stores representing the clothing lines of the apparel students.

Lisa Bates, lecturer of interior design who worked with the project, said junior year is when interior design students base their work on retail; historically, they have used existing retailers.

“We found that using some of the brands already on the retail market, it was hard to break away from that brand image,” Bates said. “We were looking for a way to allow students to develop a new brand through that retail experience.”

The idea was presented to the faculty in apparel, merchandising and design, and was crafted to include students abroad in Rome. The store that interior design students were asked to design for their fashion counterparts was an actual space near the school in Rome.

Each fashion design student was assigned two interior design students, with the exception of Abby Beuse, senior in apparel, merchandising and design, who was paired with two pairs of interior design students.

Nate Thiese and Joy Owen, interior design students, were one of the pairs assigned to Beuse. Thiese described Beuse’s style as fashion-forward but different than what the average person is wearing.

“Lots of geometric patterns. She likes to drape textiles in a way that they’re not intended for,” Thiese said. “She likes to mix pattern with other materials.”

Since Beuse did not have a name and brand for her designs, Thiese and Owen worked with her to create one and landed on Dissent, a brand for people with a disposable income and a rebellious streak.

“Ritzy,” Owen said. “They want to go a different direction but they still want that high fashion.”

Theise and Owen ended up working with a theme based on the subways in New York, which Beuse said she found inspiring while in New York City.

“We are basically making a store that maybe the average person may feel uncomfortable in, but her clientele really wouldn’t care,” Thiese said.

The pair achieved the subway look through a mixture of materials and layout of their store. The space they were given had a unique shape; a store that was long and narrow but still had high ceilings.

Cooperation between students, as displayed by Thiese, Owen and Beuse, was one of the main aims of the project. Bates said their work is providing them an example of a situation they will be presented with once they find jobs.

“They are looking to really understand and articulate how they are going to take the fashion design student’s brand and make it into a retail space,” Bates said. “What’s really fantastic about this is every fashion design student has a different idea. They have to create very different experiences for very different customers.”

Bates said she has hope that this project can be repeated.

“I see this as an ability to repeat. We never want to get anything to be too stagnant, but we’ll have new students,” Bates said. “We can always adapt things, such as the location of the store or the actual shell of the store.”

The students also said they are enjoying the project because of the opportunities it presents.

“I just think it’s a good opportunity, blending both fashion and interior design. It gives us a chance to have real clients in a sense without actually having a real project,” Owen said. “And just that collaboration between the two, we’re not just with interior designers when we’re in the field, so that’s a good start to what we’ll be doing in the future.”

Beuse had fun with the project and liked the opportunity to see her own designs in a store. On Dec. 11, the final designs were presented for a final critique in the atrium of the Design Building.

Beuse said she loved both of the stores designed for her line and how different the designs ended up being.

“I was like, I think I’m going to call you guys up after graduation, have a little chitchat,” Beuse said. “I think it’s fun.”