Interview with Candice Chaignat, Winner of the Social Relevance in Interior Design 2011 IIDA Calibre Award
So, how do DI students measure up to other Southern California design students? That is exactly what recent graduate, Candice Chaignat set to find out when she applied to participate in the 2011 IIDA Calibre Awards. These prestigious awards are given to students who go above and beyond to show a higher level of intent in their work. Candice was about to graduate and wanted to see how her work compared to her competition.
"When I entered this competition I wasn't doing it to win. I was doing it for the experience and to see how competitive I was with other Southern California students."
Before even being able to compete, Candice had to send in two essays; one about how IIDA (International Interior Design Association) is relevant to designers and one about her design project and category she was applying for, Social Relevance in Interior Design. She used her Interior Design V Breast Cancer Treatment Center project. Candice decided to do this project because of how breast cancer has impacted her mother.
"I interviewed her during the whole time I was designing and researching the project about what she had to go through and how she felt and I discovered a lot about the process and what the patient-doctor integration is. It really helped me make design decisions for the lab rooms. She was the main patient that I built the project around. It was exciting to do something I cared about and the result was very rewarding"
After being accepted to compete Candice made a few changes to her project. Having recently taken the Sustainable Environments course at DI, Candice felt it was important to add the elements she learned into her project even though it was completed in the prior semester. Through her research she had already understood the importance of nature in the healing process and now she could take that to the next level with green technology.
On the presentation day, Candice enjoyed meeting the other students and learning about their work.
"I saw great projects but I also saw that I was definitely competitive. I felt strong about my project and it was a good feeling."
Candice was given 15 minutes to present her project to a jury of professionals.
After spending about 10 minutes presenting, Candice gave the jurors the last 5 minutes for comments and questions.
"I loved the critique from the jurors because you always want to know what you can do better. They said that is was very realistic. They liked the fact that I incorporated green technology. They liked my concept and they liked to see it through everything from my logo to the floor plan. They also gave me comments on things that weren't working. And I actually enjoyed that."
On her way out the door, they had one last comment.
"[They] said I wouldn't have a problem finding a job. That was encouraging to hear."
After this exhilarating experience, the contestants had to wait two weeks for the results. For Candice, it was worth the wait when she received the call that she had gotten first place in the Social Relevance Category with a $5,000 scholarship award!
"I really didn't think I would win. This project was actually very special to me since it was a breast cancer center and my mom has been struggling with breast cancer. To have some recognition for such a special project feels good."
Candice's parents came from Switzerland to attend graduation and were able to attend the event.
"My parents were very impressed. My dad was skeptical about the award and competition, but once they saw 1000 people at the awards ceremony they really understood what a big deal it was. At the awards I had to go onstage and I was in the catalog so people were recognizing me and congratulating me. It felt great. I met a rep that I knew from my internship and she invited me to an AIA spring tour where I met other people who recognized me from the Caliber Awards and they asked me to email my resume. That ended up turning into a couple of interviews."
Candice and her husband relocated to LA, (Culver City), because of his job and they moved a week after school ended. And one of those fateful interviews Candice had just happened to be in Culver City and turned into a job! Candice is working at Wolcott Architecture Interiors.
"I want to have an impact on people's lives. I want to make their life easier when they're going through difficult times, so health care would be excellent for that. I want them to have an easier more beautiful life through design. I also am very oriented towards sustainability. I am so excited to work for a company that not only cares about sustainability but that is their whole philosophy and that is their goal. In the first two years I have so much to learn that I'll take any branch of design I can get just to soak it in. I think I will reach my goals. I am open to whatever comes along. I trust my future. I come from a town of 2,000 people so SD was already a big step but now LA will be even bigger! I love new experiences and so I'm excited."
Candice looked back on this final stage of her education.
"I am very happy with my education at DI, and I am surprised that I won this competition. It is helpful to find a job and I am very happy with what I've done. I am a person that cares about the quality of my work and I'm glad that what I do is recognized." "I feel I've done something good and maybe one day I'll have the opportunity to design a breast cancer center."
To see a video of Candice speaking about her design go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hgz9ZuVvJ0
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