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Colleges prep for interior design job surge

It’s all about space planning at the state’s interior design schools where students learn ways to make interior spaces more livable and workable. There are four-year accredited programs such as Mississippi College, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi where students earn bachelor degrees in interior design. There are also university parallel programs at Northeast Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where students begin their academic journey before transferring to universities.

TaborRes is a rendering of a space designed by students using the interior of the Borden Milk Plant in Starkville.

TaborRes is a rendering of a space designed by students using the interior of the Borden Milk Plant in Starkville.

At Mississippi State University, the Interior Design Program is in the College of Architecture, Art and Design. It was established in 1969 and accredited in 1993 by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Chairman of the program and full professor Beth Miller says the job outlook for interior design graduates is good. “Anything that is specialized is better in this economy,” she said. “The U. S. Department of Labor is predicting 19 to 27 percent growth between 2010 and 2020. A lot of companies and organizations are taking existing spaces and re-doing them.”

Miller, who is also serving as interim dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, says the MSU program stresses studio-based learning. “That’s the way interior design, architecture and art are taught. Students must be able to do it. Interior design students do some real client projects.”

The MSU students offer suggestions to clients which give the student designers opportunities to work with clients on real spaces. The students recently re-worked the office of MSU’s College of Business dean where they moved walls and chose finishes.

“There are also lecture classes that deal with the American Disabilities Act, which students must know now that it’s a part of the International Building Code,” Miller said.

Other classroom courses include the history of interior design to learn different furniture styles and cultures, textiles class, computer classes for skills in drafting and 3D modeling, building infrastructure modeling and auto computer-assisted drafting.

“We’re one of the first schools to start teaching with the auto CAAD, and it’s really cool,” Miller said. “It shows clients way before construction what a structure will look like. It has changed the industry tremendously and has increased student’s ability to get jobs.”

Graduates of the program are working in diverse environments. Currently several are serving internships in hospitality, retail and health care in Atlanta, Dallas and Nashville. Miller points out that internships lead to permanent jobs 90 percent of the time. Several graduates are working in high-end residential firms and large hotel chains while others are working for Mississippi furniture companies, which is again moving forward.

“The industry is moving to an interdisciplinary style with all participants working on projects together,” she added. “All architects, designers and landscape architects work on projects together and each can see what the others are doing.”

At Mississippi College in Clinton, interior design students are art majors who can choose interior design as a focus program earning a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Classes include basic design, interior environments, drawing, graphical programs, the history of architecture and interiors, color and lighting, building construction, computer generated drafting and business principles.

The program is also in the Department of Art at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The program provides a diverse, challenging and multidisciplinary perspective that encourages creative, professional and environmentally responsible design solutions for residential, commercial and institutional facilities, according to university spokesman David Tisdale.

“Students will attain the depth and breadth of professional design knowledge required to participate in entry level positions in a variety of interior design related professions,” he added. “They will have a foundation in the fundamentals of art and design, theories of design, green design and human behavior.”



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About Lynn Lofton