School of Design students collaborate in experiential design course

Apr 11, 2022 | Design, Faculty/Staff, General News, Liberal Arts, Student News Bureau, Students

An experiential design course in Louisiana Tech University’s School of Design brings graphic design and interior design students together in a collaborative studio.

Marla Emory, Associate Professor of Interior Design, and Tom Futrell, Associate Professor of Graphic Design teach this winter quarter 10-week course. Emory and Futrell pair students from each degree program so they can collaborate on concept designs for a hotel and restaurant, solving real-world business challenges.

“Design programs tend to keep students in silos but that is not how the professional world works,” Emory said. “This studio helps students gain real-world, professional experience before they move onto internships or graduation.”

Futrell explained that in the modern academic setting students are not taught to collaborate with each other, but that is not how professional environments work.

During the course, students are tasked with testing ideas, learning from their partners, and going out of their comfort zones to create a final design concept for the end of the quarter showcase.

“​​At the end of the day, designers are communicators, and it’s their job to create a memorable experience for their audience,” Futrell said. “My favorite projects are the ones where students push themselves out of their comfort zone. I love when they discover they can do something they thought was impossible.”

The students who took part in this winter quarter studio brought different ideas to the table for their design concepts. Anna Lester, a graphic design student from Shreveport, was partnered with Audrey Bergstedt, an interior design student from Sulphur. The pair designed a hotel and restaurant that popped with color and personality.

“Audrey and I worked together to bring our wildest dreams to life through the resources provided to us such as the life size prints of our concepts and the different software we were able to experiment with during the quarter,” Lester said. “Creating the graphics for a Dolly Parton-themed restaurant and a hotel inspired by Magazine Street in New Orleans was my favorite project in my academic career.”

Emory and Futrell have traveled the country, educating other design programs about the experiential design studio and the benefits it can bring to students in both graphic design and interior design.

“There are not many design programs focused on collaboration and discipline interaction like we offer here at Louisiana Tech,” Emory said. “Students should have unparalleled learning opportunities that allow them to examine their careers beyond certain isolated professions.”

The experiential design studio is supported by alumni, faculty, administration, and national and local sponsors that have provided students with materials, trips to conferences and equipment.

“When students aren’t burdened with cost, they have more ability to experiment without risk,” Futrell said. “And when are students are able to create freely, they are able to imagine and design the impossible.”

This story was written by Communication student Kelly Cole.