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News Bites – Finish2Fashion Event Fuels Collaboration Between Interior Design Students and Alumni

Posted November 14, 2014 in AlumniNews BitesInterior Design

Forget the furnishings and put aside the floor plans – a recent collaborative competition had KCAD Interior Design students and alumni designing for an altogether different space: the human body. 

Now in its sixth year, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Michigan Chapter’s Finish2Fashion event challenges teams of students and professionals to create original fashion designs. What’s more, they have to do so using only interior finish materials.

designs from the Finish2Fashion eventThe 2014 Finish2Fashion event was held in downtown Detroit (image courtesy of Rachel Yarch)

While the resulting designs aren’t exactly making fashion royalty like Giorgio Armani and Donatella Versace fear for their throne, the red carpet is not the endgame here. Finish2Fashion is all about growing the collaborative power of Michigan’s bustling network of interior design professionals and students.

The KCAD community was a big part of this year’s effort, with thirteen current students and alumni participating on three separate teams. For this year’s event, teams’ designs had to represent a character from a classic novel.

An all-KCAD team sponsored by the college’s alumni association featured the combined talents of Interior Design alumni Becky Thelen (’09), Jenna Fillman (‘09), and Renae Hines (’12) – who all currently work for West Michigan-based furniture company Nucraft – and current Interior Design students Ashley Newton and Emily Markopoulos, and current Photography student Patrick Schaefer.

the all-KCAD team brainstorms their designThe all-KCAD team brainstorming their design strategy

“It was a fun challenge that definitely put our crafting skills to the test,” said Thelen. “The students were great and it was fun to collaborate with others in the design industry.”

Using Nucraft wood veneer and drapery and seating fabrics from Carnegie Fabrics, the team’s design embodied the dual-personas of the famous protagonist of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s classic tale, Beauty and the Beast.

all-KCAD team posing with their final designThe all-KCAD team posing with their final design

“Veneer is a tricky material to work with, but with many helping hands – and lots of hot glue – it all came together,” said Thelen. “The fabric was perfection from head to toe.”

Current Interior Design students Elizabeth Burr and Victoria Hayes joined Interior Design alumni Lindsey Rood (’08) and Rachel Yarch (’12) – who both work for grand Rapids-based furniture company RT London – on a team sponsored by Arc|Com Fabrics and SitOnIt Seating that tackled Bram Stoker’s Dracula using an assemblage of chair parts and fabrics.

final dracula designThe final Dracula design from the RT London-sponsored team (image courtesy of Rachel Yarch)

Another team featured four Interior Design alumni – Jessica Griffis (‘05), Luann Cammenga (’13), Melissa Powell-Sheppard (‘00), and Sarah Fall (’11) – who now work for Grand Rapids-based architecture and engineering firm Progressive AE. The team created a design inspired by Daisy Buchanan, the femme fatal of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, using nothing but wall covering material.

final Daisy designThe final Daisy design from the Progressive AE-sponsored team (image courtesy of Rachel Yarch)

A total of 19 designs were presented at a special event in downtown Detroit, where a panel of guest judges selected winners in a number of different categories, including best use of materials, best craftsmanship, best integration of theme, and best of show. Although none of the KCAD-affiliated teams were among the winners, the competition was nonetheless an incredible learning experience for all involved.

By encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and a collision of different design perspectives, the event helps spur innovation and impact throughout the industry.

Interior designers must be able to constantly adapt to new ways of thinking about how materials can be used; that’s something KCAD alumni know well from working with industry-leading companies, and they’re happy to help current students on their journey to becoming versatile designers themselves.

“I hope [the IIDA Michigan chapter] does this again,” said Thelen. “Here at Nucraft, we’re fired up and ready to compete again next year.