Mesa wins prestigious interior design award

San Diego Mesa College Design Center

 Photo Credit: Office of Communications

San Diego Mesa College Design Center Photo Credit: Office of Communications

Saida Hassan, Staff Writer

San Diego Mesa College has been given the College of the Year award by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) for winning its annual Student Design Competition.

Mesa College was awarded “for its outstanding technical merit in student kitchen and bath design”, said NKBA on their website. They placed in the “top 10% of entries”, says Helene Lindquist, adjunct professor of the Mesa College interior design program.  

Lindquist attributes Mesa’s win to a phenomenal interior design program, she said-so good, in fact, that “some its professors are alumni of the program itself.” Mesa’s interior design department is extremely comprehensive; “almost every single class has some component to kitchen and bath design” says Lindquist, which allowed the students to compete so comparatively with other schools who participated in the competition, including 2-year colleges and 4-year universities from both the U.S. and Canada. These classes can be tweaked according to what students are working on to better accomplish the learning objectives they are mastering at the time, whether that be how to draft a kitchen design by hand or using computer graphics to generate a bathroom design.

In addition, students can also take some classes in the architecture or art departments to help them with their interior design education. As it is very “labor intensive”, Lindquist says it is mostly Mesa’s interior design program that prepares them most for competitions like that of the NKBA’s and what allows them to enter the workforce as students with more than just entry level experience. According to the official NKBA website, unlike design programs at other universities, Mesa’s program has a specific class dedicated just to bathroom and kitchen drafting, which makes a noticeable difference in their education outcomes. Although Lindquist is the adjunct professor who has been working with the program for 20 years, she only “constructively criticizes” the work that students have done. Lindquist mentioned, “I do not help them draft the designs themselves,” she says. “I sit individually with them to mentor them in the practical application of their designs”, such as how to organize a draft or adhere to federal and state safety standards. Thus, most of the work is left to the students with some input from faculty.

Lindquist is extremely proud of her students, especially the two whose entries were used in this year’s competition, Rachel and Nacia (last names redacted.) Mesa’s interior design program has actually won the NKBA competition in 2014, 2015, and 2016, and many students go on to be successful on their own once they graduate from Mesa’s design program. Various students have gone on to win the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) competition, and intern for the Michael Graves firm in NYC as part of the prize, as well as have their work portfolios featured in the Ramona Sentinel. For context, Lindquist says that Graves’ work is in several 5-star hotels and he has also worked for Target. According to Lindquist, Mesa’s interior design program is “so remarkably phenomenal” that the “head of SDSU’s [interior design program] acknowledged that their program is nowhere near as high end, because they really only do research over there.”