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Aug 14, 2023 By Jessica Jones
Campus Center Spotlight: George Fox University
2023 IIDA Campus Center Award Winners George Fox University share how they are supporting students and helping create a new wave of design
By Jessica Jones Aug 14, 2023
Published in

IIDA Campus Centers create a design community where design professionals can exchange ideas with students and educators that is essential to design innovation. By offering students and educators an opportunity to work together on different projects and initiatives, we help shape the future of interior design one student at a time.

The 2023 Campus Center Awards Winner, George Fox University’s submission of the Sleeping Pod for the Houseless Population project showcased their outstanding achievements and active involvement in the school’s design program and community. One of the main goals of George Fox University's Interior Design program is to ensure all students have the resources, opportunities, and experiences necessary to be skilled in their field.

In 2021, assistant professor of Interior Design at George Fox, Casey Martin, IIDA took over the program and updated it to have a focus on connection, utilizing resources for students to gain hands-on technical knowledge and she created a program that is able to also give back to the community. Martin supports students in all levels at their design career to help foster strong and creative empathetic designers for the next generation.

While working on the Sleeping Pod for the Houseless Population project Martin and students created and learned from each other. When searching for a project, Martin knew she wanted something that students could do in their first semester and where they are able to work in small teams. She also wanted something that would allow them to work with the design community in Portland, so she reached out to Portland State’s Architecture’s Center for Public Interest about the project. The shells for the pods had already been designed so this was an opportunity for Martin and the students to step in and re-imagine what the inside of these pods could actually be. The most important part of the project and goals of the campus center is to help students understand the part designers play in our society, helping to solve some of the issues facing our current world today.

Martin and students Hannah Farrugia, Student IIDA and April Stuckey, Student IIDA, talk with us about their experience working on their design solution, the significance of winning this award and the importance of being a part of a campus center.

What does it mean to you for your campus center to win this award?

Casey Martin:
Winning this award was the highlight of my career as a designer and an instructor of interior design, and I don’t say that lightly. Design education is such a passion of mine and leading my students through this project, and many others, is so fulfilling to see their projects and our program recognized on this scale. We are so grateful to IIDA for this recognition and as a fairly small program, winning this national award will have life-changing trajectories for many of our students!

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Casey Martin, IIDA
George Fox University
Assistant Professor of Interior Design
Director of Internships + Practicum Experience
Casey Martin, IIDA
George Fox University
Assistant Professor of Interior Design
Director of Internships + Practicum Experience

What was your favorite memory working on the Sleeping Pod for the Houseless Population Project?

CM:
I loved seeing the students engage with this project. The whole discussion around the houseless population can often be a daunting one to take on, but my students approached this project through the lens of empathy. How could this project create actual homes for someone experiencing houselessness? How can these tiny pods be functional and comfortable and sustainable and beautiful? The students really dove in and it was beautiful to watch.

How did you all reach this design solution and what did you learn from students during the process?


CM:
We worked with shells of the pods given to us by Portland State University’s Architecture students and from there, really researched trauma-informed design and talked with organizations that provide support for the houseless population in Portland. We did our due diligence before jumping into design and I loved seeing the students using what they learned in the research phase and how that directly impacted their designs.

How important was this project to how you view the future of designing environments?


CM:
I think the future of design is how we, as designers, can actually use our specific skill sets to help solve some of our world’s problems. It’s through that innovative design thinking that we have a unique view into how future spaces could be designed.

What sets your campus center apart from others? Why would you encourage design students to get involved in their IIDA campus center?

CM:
The George Fox University Interior Design program is unique and it’s an exciting time to study interior design in our program. Our curriculum is brand new within the last 3 years and it’s based on CIDA standards as well as industry feedback. I regularly change out projects and talk continuously with our local design industry partners to make sure that what our students are doing is actually relevant to the current state of the design industry. We work with local firms like SERA often, as well as partnering with giants like Gensler each Fall for our Space Planning Class and participate in many IIDA events within our local Portland chapter. Our program is also small enough that the students are really known by their instructors and as professors, we can actually hand place many students in firms and jobs that they want as they graduate as we really know what their skill sets are and where they will excel. We work really closely with our local IIDA Portland City Center and our students participate in many events such as the local, regional, and national design charrettes, as well as local awards dinners and other events. We really focus on community connectivity in our program and our students graduate with their own network of industry connections so that they can thrive in this amazing design community.

What did you learn while working on this project?

April Stuckey:
The Forest Grove Sleeping Pod project has been a favorite of mine since my class started working on it last fall. When first approaching this project, my peers and I had to assess our own preconceived notions of what housing should look like. Addressing the basic needs of a person isn’t enough, we had to push ourselves to envision a space where anyone could find privacy, comfort and safety. My peers and I dug into the concept of trauma-informed design, which confronts the notion that our built environment has the ability to either positively or negatively affect our emotional wellbeing. Designing for folks who may have more sensitivities due to past experiences meant that we had to work from a place of empathy and awareness. We eventually came up with a design that included strategic storage space as well as calming colors and textures. Our space plan avoided dark corners or blind spots that could potentially make someone feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Hopefully the finished Pods will be a successful transitional housing option for folks in need. It’s been very exciting to be a part of a project that has the potential to positively impact so many lives.

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April Stuckey, Student IIDA
George Fox University
April Stuckey, Student IIDA
George Fox University

Hannah Farrigua: This sleeping pod project was unlike anything I worked on before. The project gave me a great opportunity to truly think about what it means to design for functionality, efficiency, trauma, and sustainability. It challenged me to think critically, dig deeper into trauma-informed design, and to gain knowledge on the houseless community in the greater Portland area. In working with the Architecture students at Portland State University and in groups with others in the Interior Design program at Fox, I was able to get a small idea of what it might be like to work in a firm. We were all pushed to communicate, pull our weight, and work together to create a truly incredible project. I am so excited to see this project come to life and to have been a part of giving people in the area a safe, functional, and beautiful space to build a community of their own.

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Hannah Farrugia, Student IIDA
George Fox University
Hannah Farrugia, Student IIDA
George Fox University

What have you learned from being a part of IIDA Campus Center that you don’t learn in the classroom?

AP:
Being involved in IIDA has given me many opportunities to challenge myself and my design skills. Participating in experiences with IIDA expands my ability to enjoy fellowship with students and professional designers alike. One of my favorite events to attend has been the annual design charrettes. Working alongside students to complete design challenges has helped me learn how to balance my talents in a collaborative setting. Having the foundation of a positive and expansive learning environment at George Fox University has been so crucial for my education, but it all gets put to the test when I collaborate with folks from outside of my campus. Gaining support and encouragement from other students and industry professionals has boosted my confidence and given me the chance to show what I can accomplish when teaming up with other creators.

HF:
In being a part of an IIDA Campus Center, I have had opportunities that I didn’t even think were possible while in school. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by industry professionals, work with firms in both Oregon and Montana, get feedback on large projects, and so much more. We have been provided with many networking opportunities, have worked with company reps, worked on real projects with clients, and have been able to collaborate with other architecture and interiors programs around the world. The program pushes us to not only learn the technical work that comes with design but also the social skills needed to succeed in a communication-heavy industry. We are truly set up for success and cared for deeply by our professor, Casey Martin.

Learn more about our Student Mentoring Program and how you can bring a campus center your campus here

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