October 3, 1999

VSU introduces Interior Design Program

This fall is the first semester Valdosta State University is offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in Interior Design. The new, 120-hour degree program will teach students art and design concepts, furnishing and material knowledge and problem solving skills that will prepare them for a career in interior design.

Deborah Brooks, director the interior design program, has designed a curriculum which meets the standards established by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research. A graduate will have a portfolio to present to a post-graduate employer and have work experience through a required internship.

Upon completion of the program and two years of post-graduate work experience, Brooks feels graduates will be prepared to take the required National Certification in Interior Design Qualifying exam.

The curriculum requires students take six studio courses. "A studio class is where they get the content through reading and research, and then they make an application of that content to some type of interior space," Brooks said. According to Brooks, each studio course builds on the next. They will begin by working with a small area and eventually work with thousands of square feet.

According to Brooks, a required internship will be a part of the program. Although a student will have opportunities all over the United States, Valdosta and the region served by VSU holds opportunities for interior design students. The area has four furniture retailers - in which several have more than one location - four interior design firms and 10 architectural firms. There are also 11 antique retailers in Valdosta with many more in the surrounding towns.

Brooks feels that the internship is very important for the development of interior design skill. "We want to teach them to behave ethically, use the available technology, and be open to everything they come across," Brooks said.

Plans include hiring another faculty member to teach some of the studio courses. "[Students] need multiple points of view," Brooks said.

Brooks is currently planning an advisory board made up of business and industry professionals. The primary function of the advisory board will be to keep up with changes in the interior design field. "It helps us keep in touch with what's going on out there in the real world and identify areas where there is a strong need for interior designers," Brooks said.

The program currently has 15 students enrolled. According to Brooks, the enrollment is expected to triple by next fall.

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