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Jul 26, 2021 By IIDA HQ
Design Your World Activated
The Design Your World education program launches into action in Chicago as students are introduced to the world of commercial interior design.
By IIDA HQ Jul 26, 2021
Published in Design Your World

IIDA proudly launched the Design Your World interior design education pipeline program for high school students on July 6th, working with our partners OFS, Mannington, 3form, and Configura to support this important endeavor. The goal of this program is for students to walk away with a foundational knowledge of the commercial interior design profession, through hands-on, skill-based learning, design history, group projects, and exposure to the wide range of careers and professions within the industry.

Recently the students took a field trip to visit theMART in Chicago, an iconic and historical design hub, where they learned about the history and importance of this building. Today theMART is the world’s largest commercial building, largest wholesale design center, and one of Chicago’s premier international business locations. TheMART contains 4.2 million square feet of floorspace, spans two city blocks, and rises 25 stories along the Chicago River.

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Above: Design Your World students visit theOFS showroom in Chicago with Doug Shapiro, VP of Research and Insights, and Maria VanDeman, District Sales Manager of OFS.

The students also visited partner showrooms in Chicago, OFS, Mannington, and 3form, to learn how designers and manufacturers collaborate and work together. They heard from and spoke to employees with jobs ranging from sales to showroom management, and marketing and design providing insight into the breadth of roles available within the industry.

The students were also fortunate to have Design Your World champion IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, FIIDA, join the tour to share her own professional journey and advice on life, leadership, and design.

Along with the field trip, a stellar group of design professionals visited virtually with our students over the course of the summer so far to share their stories, and talk design, life, and inspiration. The students were fortunate to have had a career journey session recently with three key players in the design industry. These design leaders shared their own stories of education, internships, career development, mentorship and discussed equity and diversity across the field.

Our Design Your World students have had a front-row seat to working with and learning from some of the best in the industry in their program so far. We turn to these leading designers to share a little about their views on mentorship and the value of these kinds of programs.

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Design Your World students visit the Mannington showroom in Chicago.
Design Your World students visit the Mannington showroom in Chicago.
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Design Your World is what I wish I had access to at their age. Our goal is to expose them to careers in commercial design by providing some insight into what interior designers do. Not only designers, but also related fields—architecture, sales, construction, etc. Hopefully this will ignite their curiosity about the field, and encourage them to pursue careers in design.
Ciera C. Payton, Design Your World instructor
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Ciera C. Payton, Design Your World instructor

Roby Isaac, Vice President, Commercial Design, Mannington Mills

IIDA: What does mentorship mean to you?

Roby Isaac: I’ve always believed that mentors should be able to share learned life lessons to help the mentee prepare for future opportunities and experiences. At the same time, I believe it’s important for a mentor to encourage a person to build on their best traits while tackling the not-so-desirable ones. Too often, we don’t get the honest feedback that will help us grow as a person; I believe a good mentor provides that

IIDA: What’s your advice for emerging designers or students interested in pursuing design studies?

Roby Isaac: I would encourage anyone interested in pursuing design to be willing and available when opportunities are offered to you. They may be less than glamorous, sound like hard work, and not exactly what you see yourself doing for the rest of your life—and that’s okay. Think of it as a training ground to be a well-rounded creative person. There is a great chance that you’ll learn more than you ever expected to, and you’ll meet amazing people along the way, I guarantee it.

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Design Your World guest speaker Roby Isaac, Vice President of Commercial Design, Manngington Mills
Design Your World guest speaker Roby Isaac, Vice President of Commercial Design, Manngington Mills

Azar McMaster, Senior Vice President, Product Management, 3form

IIDA: As someone that has worked in many roles over your 20+ years in the interior design field, what’s your advice for emerging designers or students interested in pursuing design studies?

Azar McMaster: An education in design can influence the world in so many important and beautiful ways. Always stay open-minded to the ways you can apply your design education whether it be in designing spaces, products, or experiences, or working in operations, marketing, or sales, the talents and perspective you develop will be impactful.

IIDA: What does mentorship mean to you?

Azar McMaster: The act of mentoring is a way for me to pay-it-back, and pay-it-forward. As a mentor I can be available to help, guide, encourage, and cheerlead the next generation—and by doing so, honor and reward those who years ago made similar investments in me.

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Design Your World guest speaker Azar McMcMaster, Senior Vice President of product management at 3form
Design Your World guest speaker Azar McMcMaster, Senior Vice President of product management at 3form

Maria VanDeman, District Sales Manager, South Florida, OFS

IIDA: What does mentorship mean to you?

Maria VanDeman: As humans, we learn by example and through observation, and I've been fortunate to have people in my career who I admired for their leadership, confidence, success, and humility. As a mentor, I hope to create a personal connection with the students by sharing my own journey in design and to exemplify a tangible and rewarding career path. It's an honor to represent and expose students to an industry that is full of opportunity, community, and the ability to effect change. If I can show even one student that there is a space for them to belong in our industry with a rewarding and secure future in design, then I’m doing something right.

IIDA: What’s your advice for emerging designers or students interested in pursuing design studies?

Maria VanDeman: I was always taught to find my passion, which is the advice I hope to pass on, because finding your passion and recognizing what excites you will lead to a more fulfilling journey. That passion has evolved for me over time, but passionately pursuing what I love to do has created a career journey full of purpose and lifelong friendships through design. Design can open many doors and opportunities.

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Design Your World guest speaker, Maria VanDeman, District Sales Manager, South Florida at OFS
Design Your World guest speaker, Maria VanDeman, District Sales Manager, South Florida at OFS

Learn more about the mission and goals of the Design Your World program HERE. For information regarding partnership and support for Design Your World contact Tracey Thomas, director of strategic sales at IIDA - tthomas@iida.org

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