From Practice to Classroom

The IDEA-Line is a resource for practitioners looking for interior design graduate programs in North America.

After my conversation with Denise Guerin, president of the Interior Design Education Council (IDEC), I took a closer look at the IDEA-Line, to learn how the program helps practitioners navigate to graduate programs.

A trend is clearly in the making. Practitioners are starting to teach interior design or elect to go back to school to hone their skills. But many have a hard time figuring out which graduate program best fits their needs. And no one knows what to expect when reentering academia. Enter the IDEA-Line, a resource for practitioners looking for graduate programs in North America. It also encourages practitioners to talk to advisers and students about the challenges of going back to school, and identify the rewards and pitfalls of teaching in a design school.

“A few years ago, while developing recommendations for a Kimball Office work group about sustaining the interior design education effort, the concept of the IDEA-Line was suggested,” said Joy Dohr, professor emeritus in the Design Studies Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The IDEA-Line includes eight regional professional educators and practitioner from across the United States and Canada, who can be reached to aid designers in their efforts to explore questions, identify a graduate program and possibly move into teaching. We talk about opportunities within graduate studies, concerns, types of teaching, and their areas of interest in the field.”

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A few years ago Cynthia Milota, a Chicago-based interior planning and design professional, contacted the IDEA-Line to talk with someone about going back to school. “I knew I wanted to go back to school, but it was a question of when and what to study,” she said. “I wanted to stay in Chicago for my practice and my family, so Joy, my IDEA-Line regional contact, helped me develop an independent study program at DePaul University called generations at work.”

Since their initial conversation, Joy has helped Cynthia establish her curriculum, review program presentations with advisers, and connect her to other students and scholars with similar concerns and areas of interest. “It takes courage for people to say they’re going in a different direction or path, and often times this involves teaching part time and practicing, as well as taking courses. The IDEA-Line helps these individuals plan their next step or course of action,” added Dohr.

Practitioners interested in learning more about transitioning into education or going back to school, can take the live course, Becoming an Interior Design Educator, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on Monday, June 13, during NeoCon, in Chicago. The course is presented by IDEC and further describes how to go back to school and possibly begin teaching.

Georgy Olivieri, MBA, LEED AP, is director of architecture and design strategies for Kimball Office.

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