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AU News

School of Interior Design event wins national award and helps students develop professional network

September 7, 2015

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Anderson University’s student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has won the organization’s Student Chapter Event of the Year award for an annual event called The Gathering. Anne Martin, Dean of AU’s School of Interior Design, and Lindsey Gerlock, the student who chaired the event, accepted the award on July 18 at the ASID National Chapter Leadership Conference in Boston.

The Gathering is an industry trade show hosted in the School of Interior Design in Johnson Hall at the university. It brings together manufacturers and account executives—along with the interior design products they represent—with students and local professional designers. Students are able to visit booths and see and touch samples. For instance, they might see firsthand how different carpets would work in different applications, from residential to public spaces. Other kinds of products from about 15 vendors included wall coverings, textiles, and furniture.

For the vendors, it’s a chance to get their products in front of those on the verge of entering the interior design profession. For students, the trade show offers the opportunity to get to know both the resources they will be using professionally as well as those with their hands on the pulse of the industry. “The reps go around to all different offices, and they know who’s hiring,” said Gerlock, whose networking helped her land multiple job interviews. After graduation in May, she accepted a job with J Banks Design Group in Hilton Head, S.C. The person who is now her boss, she said, was the keynote speaker at The Gathering in 2013. Other students have used the event to find internships as well as full-time positions.

Speakers are another important part of the event. These design professionals talk about key industry topics, such as sustainability or current market trends. There is also a catered lunch under the portico complete with flowers and violin music.

One of the judges responsible for AU’s selection said, “’The Gathering’ by the Anderson University Student Chapter is an impressive student-organized event that demonstrates significant planning and management capabilities.” Another said, “Good job on planning an event featuring students, professionals, and sales representatives. This is the real-world experience.”

The Gathering is not a new event, going back about 17 years. “It has evolved as we’ve been able to grow, as our reputation has grown,” said Martin. “We have people calling us now wanting to be on the guest list.” Attendance in 2015 included about 30 interior design professionals.

After returning from the award presentation in Boston, Martin and Gerlock both felt overwhelmed. “It was a phenomenal honor for Anderson University to be included in this design celebration,” said Martin. “Our student commitment and dedication to their chapter warranted national attention. It was absolutely a first-class affair.”

For Gerlock, the trip brought feelings of both nostalgia and excitement. “Not only did we reflect on past accomplishments, but also we looked to the future, anticipating how technology, ergonomics, and sustainable design will merge to create healthier environments for diverse groups. Representing Anderson University at the national level was a wonderful opportunity to give back to the university that nurtured my education, social, and professional goals. I will remember my four years there fondly, knowing my time, energy, and resources were well spent.”

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