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Oct 19, 2020 By IIDA HQ
IIDA Wilsonart Essay Winner Reflects on Mentorship Experience
The Wilsonart Essay awards IIDA Student members for participating in a reflection on their experience as a mentee in the Student Mentoring Program.
By IIDA HQ Oct 19, 2020
Published in

Please join IIDA, the Foundation Trustees, and Wilsonart in congratulating our 2020 winner, Yvonne Yip, Student IIDA, of UC Berkeley Extension and a participant in the IIDA Student Mentoring Program. She is the recipient of the $1,000 price on behalf of the Wilsonart Education Fund.

Yvonne was partnered with Lorraine Rowan, NCIDQ at Taylor Design in San Francisco who spent the day showing her around their studio, and providing a peek into the life of the professional interior designer. Her first experience in healthcare design, it led Yvonne to rethink the ways in which healthcare design can be applied to create safety for the occupants of all spaces. You can read her winning essay below.

Yvonne Yip | 2020 Wilsonart Essay

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin.

Involving me in the design process was exactly what lead interior designer Lorraine Rowan did when I went to Taylor Design for the Student Mentoring Program. After a brief tour of the office and introductions to the team, Lorraine involved me and a fellow mentee in a creative design activity.

Along with Lorraine and her design team I brainstormed and hashed out design themes and ideas for one of their current projects. We gathered inspirational images and terms, and created mood boards. As a team we also discussed how to create interior environments from a user perspective to create comfortable, safe, and easy to navigate spaces for both healthcare providers and their patients. Throughout this activity we implemented a strategy-based design process using the Taylor Design Method Cards: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. I was inspired by their deep concern with user experience and how much their design process is driven by their care about their clients and the overall wellbeing of humanity.

I discovered how particular environments bring their own requirements and demands to the design process. Each project and type of interior brings with it its own range of creative challenges. One thing that I gained from this experience is a better understanding of the world of healthcare interior design by sitting in on a couple of team meetings involving some of Taylor Design’s current healthcare projects.


Before this mentorship experience at Taylor Design, I only had first hand exposure to commercial and residential interior design. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of healthcare to the forefront of my mind, and it is inspiring to know how much of a difference an interior designer can have within the field and how this will reshape our thinking about many if not all environments.

IIDA’s Student Mentoring Program is a wonderful way for aspiring interior designers to experience and learn what it is like to work in the field of interior design. This experience was invaluable in exposing me to the world of institutional design, meeting inspirational mentors including Lorraine, and introducing me to a more user-centered design perspective. It exposed me to issues and conditions tied to being an interior designer in a direct way, rather than as abstract issues and ideas.

In response to the most recent events of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, I ask myself: How can I help create a safer and better world that stands up for equality and embraces diversity and inclusiveness as an interior designer? How will these issues shape the way people use spaces and places, and how will I as a designer deal with these changed conditions? Through my involvement in the Student Mentoring Program, I have learned strategy-based, user-centered design techniques and have developed relationships with professionals that can help me develop a design response to these pressing social issues.

Learn more about the Wilsonart Essay Competition, or being a mentor or mentee in IIDA’s Student Mentoring Program.

All images courtesy of Yvonne Yip

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