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Release Date: 
Monday, August 8, 2011

HFCC revitalizes Interior Design Program

By Kurt Anthony Krug

The HFCC Interior Design Program has undergone a revitalization led by HFCC Program Coordinator Karen Wilmering. As a result, the program continues to see increases in student enrollment as more and more individuals learn about the unique opportunities available in the industry.

Part of the program requirements include students participating in one kitchen and bath design competition per year, which is sponsored by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

This is a component of the Kitchen and Bath Design Certificate of Achievement program. Approved by the College Council in 2010, this 33-credit-hour certification program was developed to meet the academic standards set forth by the NKBA, the governing body that sets academic standards for Kitchen and Bath Design programs for colleges and universities across North America.

HFCC's Interior Design Program received supported status from the NKBA in 2010. This is the first of the NKBA's two-step accreditation process. This designation has provided the department with complimentary software for all the computers in the classroom. In fact, HFCC is one of three colleges in the State of Michigan to earn supported status from the NKBA.

'Supported status is the first step to full accreditation,' said Wilmering, who is also a NKBA-certified kitchen designer. She has been in the field since 1989 and has taught at Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technological University and the Art Institute of Michigan in Novi before arriving at HFCC in 2009 to take over the Interior Design Program.

'We need several students to fully complete the program as well as site-visit from the NKBA before we become fully accredited. It is my hope that we will be fully accredited in the next two years,' Wilmering said. 'The Kitchen and Bath certificate program may only be in its infancy, but a demographic trend is already emerging. Most inquiries into the program are from individuals with undergraduate degrees in Interior Design, interior design professionals currently working in the field, and HFCC students planning to enroll in the program when they complete their associate degree,' Wilmering added.

In addition, the Interior Design Program also offers an associate degree in Interior Design, which requires 67 credit hours. This degree program was restructured in 2009, updating and improving each course offered in the Interior Design Department. Even though community college interior design programs are not accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA)--a non-profit accrediting agency for interior design education programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada--HFCC's restructured curriculum does meet CIDA standards.

Students in their second year of the Interior Design program who are enrolled in INTR 287: Interior Design Synthesis have designed interior spaces on HFCC's main campus as part of the annual real-life capstone project, which is a joint effort sponsored by Wilmering and HFCC. Wilmering acts as the project manager, assisting students in the development of the aesthetic and functional design for the interior space. Students use a team approach to answer design questions and consult with industry professionals to confirm viability.

At the end, students must present the final aesthetic and function designs to an actual client. They prepare graphic presentation boards and PowerPoint presentations, which develop their oral presentation skills.

'The rigors of this course are resume/portfolio enhancers. Students complete their Interior Design studies at HFCC, having acquired the knowledge of all that is essential in the interior design process,' said Wilmering.

Wilmering also said that students are encouraged to pursue an undergraduate degree--even a graduate degree--in Interior Design. After three years of experience in the field, they can obtain certification upon completion of the National Council for Interior Design Certification (NCIDQ) exam.

One of the first things Wilmering did when she took over the Interior Design program in 2009 was completely remodel the studio classroom in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center.

'All existing furniture and furnishings were removed.  Even the existing HVAC was replaced. Our flooring is very unique to the campus. The computer lab area is carpeted and the drafting board/resource library area is vinyl wood-looking planks. We have new updated light fixtures and a drop ceiling above the computers. The renovations included new computers, a color printer and plotter,' she said. 'Last year, I had a guest speaker, Jere L’Heureux, from Contract Options (a Harper Woods-based interior design company), who commented that the room was like an 'oasis' in the desert.  He has visited many college campuses but never found any design classroom to be as attractive as ours!' she added.

Her goals for the Interior Design program are to create more media and public awareness, and build upon its strong foundation. Prior to taking it over, HFCC had no full-time faculty or a director overseeing the program for almost two years. Classes were taught by adjunct instructors. Today, there is more coordination and strong leadership.

'The program now focuses on design skills. The classes build a strong foundation. One class is devoted to manual drafting, one to CAD, another to perspective drawing and rendering.  The studio classes are focused: Residential Design for a full semester, Commercial Design for a full semester and the Capstone Real-Life Project for a full semester. Each of these courses builds upon the previous skill set. This program prepares the students for entry-level positions in design firms, or to be self-employed residential designers.  It also provides a strong foundation for transferring to any of the local colleges that offer interior design bachelor's degree programs,' she explained.

To learn more about the program, please call Wilmering at (313) 845-9814 or visit