Release Date: 
Thursday, September 26, 2019

HFC Interior Design alumna wins 2nd Place in national student design competition

HFC alumna Allison Jones (left) and HFC Interior Design program coordinator Karen Wilmering (right) pump their arms in victory after learning Jones won 2nd place in the NKBA Student Design Competition.
HFC alumna Allison Jones (left) and HFC Interior Design program coordinator Karen Wilmering (right) pump their arms in victory after learning Jones won 2nd place in the NKBA Student Design Competition.

HFC alumna Allison Jones was beyond excited to learn she won second place in the National Kitchen+Bath Association Student Design Competition.

Jones, who earned her HFC associate degree earlier this year in the HFC interior design program, is currently majoring in environmental studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She learned of her national second-place finish Sept. 19 while watching the NKBA webinar with HFC ID program director Karen Wilmering and fellow students and alumni in Wilmering’s INTR 281: Residential Design Studio class.

Jones, of Plymouth, entered the NKBA’s “Sky’s the Limit Challenge,” redesigning a kitchen for a newlywed couple in San Francisco. She won a $2,500 scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas in early 2020. She will attend a ceremony during the national Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. Her design, along with the other winning designs, will be featured in NKBA’s Inspiration + Innovation magazine.

Off to Vegas

“It’s very exciting! I can’t wait to go to Vegas; I’ve never been there before. I’m so grateful for the scholarship, which will really help me out at UM-Dearborn,” said Jones. “My plans in Vegas are to eat at as many of the best restaurants as I can, maybe see a show and try blackjack – and, of course, accept my award!”

Wilmering knew Jones was one of five finalists out of thousands of students all over the nation who entered the competition.

“That was great news for us all,” said Wilmering. “It is just such an achievement and honor to have made it to the list of finalists. So much hard work went into the final submissions.”

Jones is still processing the good news. “I can’t believe I won second place! I really put a lot of work into this project. I worked on it for two semesters straight, so it feels really good to be recognized,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to win, but I really did fall in love with my design.”

“I’ve always loved redesigning spaces”

Jones’ interest in interior design began at a young age.

“I’ve always loved reimagining spaces and making my house more functional for my family of seven. Plus, for a while, we had a home daycare, so every square inch of our house had to be used. It was something my mom and I loved to do together. We always had to get creative with our spaces to find some peace and quiet, or just a better way to store things so our house didn’t get too cluttered. Interior design was a perfect choice for me because I learned how to convey my ideas on paper,” recalled Jones.

HFC ID program provides hands-on experience

“I think the HFC’s ID program is a great program. Not only do you get a lot of hands-on experience, but you gain so much knowledge about design,” said Jones. “We aren’t just decorators, we’re like a type of architect that changes the inside of structures. So we have to know codes and guidelines and be able to make technical drawings so contractors know what we’re talking about. All of our 3D drawings are mainly for the client and for us to help see what we’re truly creating. We spend most of our time on the technical drawings, but that’s why HFC is so great. The teachers push us to do our best, and we really do learn all the things we’ll need to know in the field – especially for kitchen and bath design.”

It's not just about the hands-on and in-class experience, though. The bottom line is career preparation.

“The ID program makes sure you’re prepared to get a job in the field," said Jones. "Our professors tell us about job opportunities and help us get our portfolios together. We also learn public speaking in our interior design classes and even writing skills, because the teachers know how important it is as a designer to be able to portray and sell your ideas. I think they also focus a lot more on residential design more than other schools because most schools focus more on commercial. HFC even has a kitchen and bath certificate you can get in addition to your associate degree. I also really liked the personal attention and instruction from the teachers in the program. That helped me learn a lot more.”

Detroit-themed design at HFV

Jones was one of the students who participated in the collaboration between HFC and Henry Ford Village, a retirement community in Dearborn, on the design and construction of two apartment homes during the 2018-19 academic year. This is HFV’s second collaboration with HFC. She has fond memories of that experience.

“Our apartment was Detroit-themed. It was a great experience to work as a team and to collaborate with people. We used all of our brainpower and each of our best ideas to come up with an interesting, functional, beautiful space. It also was extremely unique as a student to talk to real clients and see your project actually come to life, while also being recognized for your work!” recalled Jones.

Wilmering is proud of her former student.

“It was obvious to me that Allison was an outstanding student from the beginning and was sure to succeed in her future endeavors,” said Wilmering. “It came as no surprise to me that she would be recognized by NKBA for her perseverance, hard work, and attention to detail.”


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