2019 Midwest Regional Conference

Forging Ahead

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Forging Ahead invites conversations around speculative and developmental ideas on the topics of our history and our future as designers and educators. The committee encourages rich engagements for participants and welcomes all topics, while considering the prompts noted below as ways of conversation starters:

  • Future sustainable communities
  • Design Innovation
  • Global impacts and contexts
  • Human- centered Communities
October 24-25, 2019
HAWORTH and Steelcase

Tentative Conference Schedule

Photo of people inside a half circle shape and green and yellow triangles
8:00 am – 8:30 am

Check in and Breakfast sponsored by HAWORTH
Kendall College of Art and Design
Woodbridge N. Ferris Building
17 Pearl St NW
Grand Rapids, Michigan
8 minute walk (3/4 mile) from Courtyard Marriott

Morning Session

8:30 am – 9:30 am

Invited Guest Speaker
Using Material Culture Studies as a Tool to Encourage Interior Design Research and Design Thinking
Suzanne Kroll, M.A., University of Akron

9:30 am – 10:00 am

Developing an Assessment Framework: Measuring Digital Literacy of Interior Design Students in a Digital Drawing Course
Somang Yang,Taneshia West Albert, Connie Dyar, Elke Altenburger, and Bill Anderson – Illinois State University

10:00 am – 10:30 am

Guided Tour of the W N Ferris Building

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Presentation in the Furniture Gallery at Kendall College of Design of Ferris State University
A guided tour of original historic furniture pieces presented by a member of the furniture design faculty

11:00 am – 11:30 am

Eliel Saarinen- Architectural Educator and Influencer
Travis Wilson

Eliel Saarinen was an educator that influenced generations of students. His leadership changed the design of architecture, education, interior design, furniture manufacturing, and urban planning.

11:30 am – 12:00 pm

What Can Phenomenology Do for the Study of Historic Interiors?
Christopher Vann and Stoel Burrowes, M.A.

In seeking the phenomenological essence of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, this presentation reorients our view of an historic interior towards the intersection of individual, society, and nature as a source of collective thought–wherein lies a meaningful experience of architecture.

Afternoon Session

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch provided by Configura
35 Oakes St SW
Grand Rapids, MI
Guides will assist attendees in utilizing the free DASH transit to Configura

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Configura Presentation
CET Designer is an all-in-one software solution for space planning and configuration of products.

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

State of the Interior Design Faculty Position: Analysis of Content from 2018-2019 Position Announcements
Tina Patel, Amy Roehl, and Pamela Evans

The deficit in qualified interior design educators is assessed through a comparison and analysis between 2018 and 2019 full-time position announcements on IDEC’s job board.

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

We have a problem: We are Educating the Wrong People
Susan Ray-Degges, Jane Strommen, Leacey E. Brown

As design educators, Universal Design (UD) concepts have been promoted in curriculum since the late 1980s and early 1990s, but consumers, builders and other stakeholders are either unaware of the concept of UD or misinterpret how it may be applied to key elements in interior environments. Study results indicate that only one fourth of the entire population in the current study had an awareness of UD, there is a continued need to investigate methods to educate potential consumers about the benefits of universal design.

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Pressing the Issue: Green Building Education in the Media
Laura B. Cole and Georgia Lindsay

This work presents the results of a structured discourse analysis of the press coverage of eight case study green museums to examine the ways in which press coverage might constitute a unique form of public green building education.

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm

Popcorn Break

3:15 pm – 3:45 pm

Design Build for Interior Design
Azizi Arrington-Bey

Comparing and reviewing a playhouse design build project that was incorporated into 2 different classes, 3 different times. Changes, development, engagement, learning, and recommendations for future implementation will be discussed.

3:45 pm – 4:15 pm

Are we giving students too much freedom in the design studio?
Kevin Woolley

Case study of a teacher’s experience of giving students the ability to pick and choose which design projects they wanted to pursue in an interior design studio class.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Meyer May House Tour
Transportation provided by Configura
450 Madison Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

8:00 am – 8:45 am

Check in and Breakfast Sponsored by Steelcase
Steelcase Learning and Innovation Center
901 44th St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49501

8:45 am – 10:15 am

Steelcase Presentations and Q&A
Eddy Schmitt,Vice President – Americas; Brian Shapland, General Manager – Turnstone and Ancillary Partnerships; Meg O’Neil, Manager of Design and Applications Marketing; and Mary Elaine Roush, Manager of Design and Applications Marketing

10:15 am – 10:30 am


10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Tours of Key Steelcase Environments

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch Sponsored by Steelcase and IDEC Midwest Business Meeting

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Capturing the Silent Emotional Experience in Healthcare Design
Azizi Arrington-Bey

Can the emotional journey within healthcare design be captured? A checklist was created and used as a tool in sensual observations and narrative poems to capture the silent conversation within the public spaces of two hospitals in Indianapolis.

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Reflections of an Interior Design Service-Learning Project
Emili Spencer

The presentation will review qualitative reflections of student experiences from a charity non-profit community center renovation service-learning project completed in 2019.

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Teaching Strategies + Studio Environments
Roxann O’Rourke-Sherrodd

This presentation explores how the research-informed or research-engaged approach can be enhanced by utilizing the constructivist framework in application to an interior design thesis studio.

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Empowering the Community Through Participatory Research and Design of Alternate Classroom Prototype
Tina Patel and Pallavi Swaranjali

This case study describes methods and outcomes of a participatory research and design process to maximize student learning. The participants in this study were given control over the research agenda, the process and actions.

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm


3:15 pm – 3:45 pm

Rendering Light: A Comparative Analysis of Virtual Reality Software
Amanda Gale and Erik Swanson

3:45 pm – 4:15 pm

The Built Environment as the Fourth Teacher
Dr. Jeanneane Wood-Nartker and Lauren Pillote-Wielenga

The number of people being diagnosed with autism is increasing. Design criteria for development of mainstream classroom Environments supporting these children and teachers will be presented.

4:15 pm – 4:45 pm

Look Up: the sky as a ceiling in an urban room
John Humphries

Conceptually framed watercolor drawings use paint and wooden constructions, to connect landscape, human experience, and urban theory.

4:45 pm – 5:15 pm

Experience and Exposure: Virtual Reality as a Conduit for Active Mediation
Erik Swanson and Amanda Gale

Inspired by biophilia and the stress reduction theory, this virtual meditation space prototype is aimed to help college students manage stress.

5:15 pm

Closing Remarks

Invited Guest Speaker

Suzanne Kroll, M.A.

University of Akron
Using Material Culture Studies as a Tool to Encourage Interior Design Research and Design Thinking
Presentation Description:

In a 2014 perspective essay published in the Journal of Interior Design, Erin Cunningham, PhD., University of Oregon, explored “the utility of history to the practice and study of interior design”. Dr. Cunningham proposed “the idea of ‘interior design in (historical) context’… to advocate the closer study of interiors as experiential, human centered, and socially embedded”.

The presentation, The World of Things: Using Material Culture Studies as a Tool to Encourage Interior Design Research and Design Thinking, builds on this proposal. It will present the concept of a classroom study, using historical decorative arts and architecture, to aid in the development of design thinking processes of both interior design students and students across multiple disciplines. Background information about Material Culture studies and Design Think will be presented with suggested class activities. The objective of the presentation is to initiate a dialogue of using historical artifacts beyond their significance as period pieces to transforming them as a teaching tool in discovering the design thought processes behind their creation.

Speaker Biography:

Suzanne Kroll, M.A., University of Akron
Suzanne Kroll is an adjunct professor for the University of Akron Interior Design program. She teaches History of Interior Design I and II in addition to textile related coursework. Her undergraduate internship took place on the 1915 Tudor revival estate of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, researching the background of the Seiberling nursery. Her Master of Art course work in Clothing, Textiles, and Interior Design included studies in Material Culture, History of Costume and Fashion, and The Environmental History of the United States. Her thesis featured a photographic study of Native American weavings found in the historic, 20-volume set of Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian, gaining insight into early twentieth-century Navajo life. With a life-long interest in history. her travels have taken her to historical sites in Great Britain, The Netherlands, Italy, Greece, the Greek Isles, and Turkey. Suzanne currently volunteers at Hower House, an 1871 Italianate house museum located on the UA campus. She participates as a member of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens Auxiliary Board and Progress through Preservation, a group recognizing and encouraging architectural preservation efforts throughout the greater Akron area.

Guided Tour of the W N Ferris Building

Led by an Interior designer from Tower Pinkster (architectural firm who guided the renovation   process). There will be a guided tour of this award winning Historic Building which was originally constructed as a Post Office before becoming a courthouse, then museum and is now home to classrooms, studios and community space for Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University. The W N Ferris building is a Governor’s Award winning building on the Historic Registry and a LEED Gold project.  Both the historical design aspects and LEED standards will be highlighted as integral to the project goals for the building renovation.

Steelcase Presentations and Q&A

  • Eddy Schmitt (Vice President – Americas) Welcome and speak to the importance of focusing on ancillary/informal spaces and what we continually hear from clients regarding these spaces and to challenge educators to put more emphasis on these spaces in their curriculum – regardless of vertical market and/or geography.
  • Brian Shapland (General Manager – Turnstone and Ancillary Partnerships) to speak to the investments we have made in our product development for these spaces, acquisitions, strategic partnerships to capitalize on this growing priority for the workplace.
  • Meg O’Neil and Mary Elaine Roush (both Managers of Design and Applications Marketing) to speak to how to design for these types of spaces and how programming and expectations of user needs are different than traditional office spaces. Steelcase tools available to assist (Marketplace, Digital Tool, Planning Ideas, etc.)  will also be presented and discussed.

Conference Fees

Graduate Student*
Full Conference
One Day

*Graduate students at participating institutions can become IDEC members for free.

Hotel information

A huge greenhouse in the middle of a park
Black suitcase in a bright hotel room
Courtyard Grand Rapids, Downtown

11 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Phone:(616) 242-6000

IDEC Group Rate: $179.00 per night*

*Hotel will honor the group rate three days prior and three days after the meeting.

Want To Become A Conference Sponsor?

To become an IDEC event partner, simply access the details in our Sponsor Packet for comprehensive information on our partnership opportunities.