For its annual survey, “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools,” the publication asked 277 leading architecture and design firms which schools best prepare students for success in the profession. Based on interior design programs accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), Auburn was ranked No. 1 in the nation, along with Savannah College of Art and Design.
“Being ranked as the best program was a really big deal for us,” said Laura Giles, senior in interior design. “Since the ranking is based off our graduates and well they perform in the real world, it really shows off how hard we work in our program.”
Students begin the program by taking the university core curriculum, which helps them gain an appreciation and understanding of the history and development of the arts. The College of Human Sciences core curriculum helps students to develop an understanding of individuals and families as consumers, giving students a unique perspective on design from the users’ needs and preferences. Additionally, the curriculum includes a strong business focus, including accounting, economics, and marketing.
“The first two years of the program are pretty much getting the basics down and learning technical things, a lot of color theory and design elements and principles,” Giles said. “Then during your junior and senior year, you do a lot more specific design work when you get into the studios. We do some pretty big projects that are more like what we’ll be doing in the real world.”
The studio classes interior design students take help them develop and polish their drafting and design presentation skills. Graduates leave Auburn with an impressive portfolio of work, an effective demonstration of their talent and experience.
Students in the interior design program must also complete a ten-week professional internship, which allows them to gain experience in an area of interior design congruent with their individual career aspirations and geographical area of preference. Many students receive permanent employment opportunities as a result of the internship experiences.
“Experience in the real world is really important to us because that’s when we actually learn how to apply all the skills we’re picking up in school,” Giles said.
Giles has had several interior design internships, including working for designers in her hometown of Austin, Texas, and working locally for IE Designs under designer Stacey Jordan. Giles is currently looking for a professional internship to complete this summer before she graduates in August. She would like to work at a large firm in New York for a couple years and hopes to one day own her own interior design business back in Austin.
“It’s great to get some hands on experience and finally apply everything that I’ve been learning,” Giles said. “It’s just fun to see how everything pans out and how professionals work together out in the real world.”
Giles said although the program is tough at times, she would recommend it to anyone with a sincere interest in design.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a really personal program,” Giles said. “I’ve gotten to know all of my teachers really well and made some great friends through the long hours we have spent in the studio.”