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Design students to share work inspired by Paris visit

March 04, 2014

Students with Professor Lee Cagley in the Grand Foyer of the Palais Garnier in Paris: (front row, l to r) Haylie Jones, Sihui Ren, Jean Kim, Maggie Gehrls; (back row, l to r) Kristin Hatting, Cagley, Hannah Bixby, Cynthia Kelly, Astaire Pool Kean.
Bixby and Pool Kean admire the furniture and textiles at the Louvre.
Nobilis design director shows new fabrics for the season in a private preview attended by professional designers and ISU students.
During a party at City Hall, students met hundreds of professionals and the mayor of Paris.
Luxury hotel lobby design project by interior design senior Kristin Hatting.
Rolls-Royce Wraith interior by industrial design graduate student Jean Kim.


AMES, Iowa — For five days in January, a small group of students from Iowa State University's College of Design rubbed shoulders with professional interior designers, interior design manufacturers and design publication editors from around the world who gathered in France for the annual Maison et Objet Paris and Paris Decó Off—interior design's equivalent of Fashion Week.

The students—seven from the undergraduate interior design program and one from the graduate industrial design program—were part of a two-credit studio workshop and study-abroad course taught by Lee Cagley, professor and chair of the ISU interior design department.

The class began meeting last November to develop small-scale individual projects for which they "shopped" in Paris at the two international trade fairs. They also drew inspiration for their designs from a series of exclusive tours and visits to iconic textile design firms, museums and palaces.

"The trip provides an unparalleled opportunity to meet leading design professionals, attend two major trade fairs and experience directly the historical influences on contemporary European interior design," Cagley said.

Students will share their work in a final review from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, in room 077 College of Design. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Most of the class chose to redo projects they'd developed in their sophomore or junior interior design studios to strengthen their design portfolios, Cagley said.

Senior Haylie Jones, Naperville, Ill., is redesigning her mother's formal living room and sunroom, transforming an outdated space with a very traditional fireplace into a more inviting environment using furniture, finishes and accessories she discovered in Paris.

Among the many highlights of their Paris trip, students gained unprecedented access to presentations and tours by top design houses like Pierre Frey, Hermes, Nobilis and Rubelli. They visited the Palais Garnier (formerly known as the Paris Opera House), and the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design and Museum of Fashion and Fabrics at the Louvre.

They met the mayor of Paris and hundreds of industry professionals at a party at City Hall. And they received exclusive guided tours of Marie-Antoinette's private rooms and the king's interior apartments at Chateau de Versailles—areas normally not open to the public.

"It was incredible to see Marie-Antoinette's bedroom, then visit the Pierre Frey archive and see samples of the same fabric and reproductions being made the same way today," Jones said. "The continuity of design and craft were amazing."

Jones, who also is enrolled in the "Hotels" interdisciplinary option studio this spring, also is incorporating some of the "most extravagant things" she found in Paris into her design of an ultra-luxurious hotel in Miami for that class.

"The feeling and quality I want to convey totally ties into what I saw in Paris," she said. "Before this trip, I didn't really know about hospitality design, and now I know for sure that's what I want to do when I graduate."

For industrial design graduate student Jean Kim, Cedar Rapids, a background and interest in automobile design inspired her project to redesign the interior of a Rolls-Royce Wraith.

"Having worked for an auto supply company in Detroit, I'm used to dealing with metal and plastic," said Kim, who holds a bachelor of landscape architecture degree from Iowa State.

"Before the Paris trip I knew nothing about fabric and all the different ways you can customize. I was just blown away by everything I saw whether at Versailles or the trade show or the private Hermes preview."

Kim drew on her experiences in Paris to develop a series of "less traditional, more fashionable" interior colors and finishes for seats, ceiling, doors, steering wheel, clock and dashboard dials. Her imagined client? "A rap artist who uses a car as a symbol of wealth and status but wants a custom look to suit his or her persona."

This is the second year Cagley has offered the workshop and students have traveled to Paris to participate in Maison et Objet and Decó Off. Interior design senior Kristin Hatting, Chanhassen, Minn., was so impressed with her experience last spring that she elected to take the class again.

Hatting expanded on a project she completed for a studio last fall in which she designed guestrooms and the reception area of a hotel in Las Vegas. During the Paris workshop, she focused on continuing her design into the large, dramatic lobby—"like making a mini-Versailles but with a pretty modern approach," she said.

For Hatting, who is minoring in both entrepreneurial studies and apparel, merchandising and design, the opportunity to tour sites like Versailles (which was not on the itinerary last year) and meet high-level figures like Pierre Frey president Patrick Frey was too important to pass up.

"It was an amazing experience as a student to have access to people and places that only professional designers and trade members normally have," she said.

In addition to Jones, Kim and Hatting, students who participated in the workshop included Hannah Bixby, Des Moines; Maggie Gehrls, Iowa Falls; Cynthia Kelly, Charles City; Astaire Pool Kean, Indianola, and Sihui Ren, Dalian, People's Republic of China.

Lee Cagley, Interior Design, (515) 294-9869,
Haylie Jones, Interior Design senior, (630) 335-1272,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,