Sheila Flener Student Day

Louisville Lexington City Center


Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Sheila Flener Student Day hosted by the IIDA Louisville/Lexington Chapter along with other interior design students from the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and Western Kentucky University. My cohort from the University of Louisville made a day out of it as we carpooled to Elizabethtown, stopping shortly for a caffeine boost along the way. We were ushered into the convention center with warm greetings from the IIDA LouLex Chapter presidency members where we were assigned our breakout color groups and provided with local donuts and coffee.



After some brief introductions and giveaways (I won!) we began our first group class on color theory by Laura McGarity, Design Manager at ID+A. It was a fascinating refresher on the importance of color perception in the built environment and how we as designers can use it thoughtfully, especially when considering universal design and the natural aging process. We then split into three breakout groups. My group enjoyed a design project review by Jennifer Dumesnil, Director of Design with Swope Design Group. She shared with us the creative design solutions Swope used for recent projects, encouraging us to consider the whole brand as well as intention in our design.


At lunch we enjoyed a tasty box lunch and conversation with participating students, organizers, and vendors. Following lunch was a thoughtful and relevant presentation to the group titled Designing is Belonging by Julie Eckert LEED, AP, IIDA, CSI- Solutions Provider at Tarkett North America. She shared with us the need to incorporate universal design in the workplace, with special attention on Neurodivergence in design and the innovative companies leading the way.



Following Julie’s remarks, we broke into our groups again where we had the chance to meet with industry vendors about the latest in design products and their uses. It was so nice of them to bring their products and solutions for us to review and try out.


The final breakout activity, which was conveniently timed for my group, was a panel discussion with local design industry professionals in which students could ask any burning questions. There was discussion about internship preparedness, what a regular work week looked like, what they look for in a portfolio, and many other useful tips for success. The presenters: Kelly Spies, Design Director, Stengel Hill Architecture; Stephanie McCrery, President, Reese Design Collaborative; Jessica Hardin, Vice President | Partner, ID+A, and Kourtni Kesler, Business Development Manager, ORI; were personable, friendly, and knowledgeable.



We left the student day invigorated and inspired. We also left with SWAG, which is exciting for students. We’re grateful to the IIDA LouLex Chapter for setting up this event and bringing us closer to industry professionals for a day of learning and fun. We look forward to the next event.


Cassie Ross

University of Louisville

IIDA, student member

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