Interior design program lays out the future

Interior design program lays out the future

Interior design program lays out the future
April 29
22:42 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

Since 1948, students have been working to perfect techniques in design spaces.

The UNT interior design program, with a variety of program options, has become one of the top interior design programs in the nation.

“Interior design is so much more than decorating a space,” professor and chairperson Cynthia Mohr said. “Interior designers create the environment in which we do everyday activities, whether that be coming up with a tight space fit for a small group of people or planning the interior of a house for a family of five.”

The program’s start

The program and its success didn’t happen overnight, Mohr said.

Ray Gough, a native of Denton, helped to create UNT’s interior design program. Gough graduated from UNT with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in art. After he served in the Navy for four years during WWII, he was accepted into the Illinois Institute of Technology and worked closely with many expert interior designers.

After he earned a degree in architecture there, he came back to UNT, where he was asked to starting developing classes for what is now the interior design program. Gough died earlier this month at 95 of complications from an illness.

Mohr said she was a close friend of Gough’s, and she considered he and his wife Georgia family.

“Ray funded the lectures that brought speakers to our program,” Mohr said. “I met him at one of the lectures, and I worked closely with him here at UNT. He was so interesting and kind, and he really cared about the program.”

Gough developed different classes in the program that students can still take today. He also traveled all over the world in order to learn about and witness different forms of architecture to share with his students, and Mohr said he would bring back images of what he experienced. With a collection of over 10,000 images and slides, he would show the students the adventures he had been on.

“He really shaped this program and made it what it is today,” Mohr said. “He influenced so many people.”

Wide range programming

The practice of being an interior designer can sometimes be confused with the profession of interior decorator. According to interior design junior Madeline Clary, the two practices are vastly different.

“People seem to get confused a lot with home decorating and interior designing,” Clary said. “We do not decide what pillows would look good with certain paint colors. We work in order to design the layout, floor plan, lighting plan, details of the interior walls and so many other aspects that is not just decorating.”

Interior designers work with architects and builders so they are able to make sure buildings and structures are safe and up to code for whoever will be in the space, Clary said. This process can take anywhere from a few months to years.

“All of these different majors and professions come together in order to aim towards a common goal,” Clary said. “If you are getting the plan together, it could only take about a year to get everything figured out and built safely. If you are making a big museum, planning could take multiple years.”

Interior designing is not just about creating a plan and bringing it to life, she said.

Interior design senior Teresa Gray said if a plan is not up to code, it can cause complications.

“In interior architecture, which is what I like to call interior design, we have to make sure the space is accessible and it meets the guidelines and codes,” Gray said. “UNT has everything people need to know when they decide to pursue this profession.”

Clary said although classes can be challenging, the program does not hold back when it comes to making sure the students know what they will be doing. From code memorization to the latest computer programs like Revit and Auto Tab, she said she has everything necessary to succeed.

“We really are ahead of the game,” Clary said. “We are able to use the newest software and work alongside talented and experienced mentors that help us learn and grow in our field every single day.”

A success story

Mohr said the program offers a variety of different options and design styles students can learn from and experience.

“We want our students to be knowledgeable about the different fields, but we want them to really focus on what they want to work with,” Mohr said. “If someone wants to help create plans for nursing homes, it is important that they understand health facilities. If they want to build universities, they need to understand what all it takes to bring a educational setting to life.”

Even though the program has received awards and honors since the 1970s, Mohr said what she feels really sets the program apart is the hard work and dedication the faculty and students offer.

“I want our professors and students to come to school every day excited to work and learn,” Mohr said. “They do not just work subpar. They exceed expectations so that they can do everything they can to make the future of interior design bright.”

Featured Image:Interior Design students at the Knoll Showroom in downtown Dallas. From left to right: Maram Bantan, Chelsea Rusnak, Cherise Daniels, Maddie Clary, Bayleigh Merlau. Photo courtesy of Madeline Clary

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