Interior design senior showcase ‘Revive’ opens in Phebe Conley Gallery

Interior design seniors presented their Capstone project to attendees during the "Revive" reception.(Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the interior design senior showcase exhibit “Revive” is open to the public in the Phebe Conley Gallery through April 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The exhibit gives graduating interior design students the opportunity to redesign an existing space to serve a community in need.

Students redesigned existing spaces to better serve communities in need for the “Revive” showcase. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

“We missed two years of the show, so it’s quite a celebration,” said Holly Sowles, Fresno State professor and program coordinator of interior design. “If you get an opportunity to go for a walk-through, you should. They did a really good job of decorating the space, and their work is very high quality.”

The exhibit marks the completion of a yearlong capstone project in which students spent the first semester researching and deciding on a space to design, and the second on the design itself and floorplans, according to Gurleen Kaur, an interior design senior at Fresno State.

“Overall, it was a long and hard process, especially since COVID-19 hit us, making this a very difficult time, but we eventually eased back and got our spark again,” Kaur said. “There are times when it feels overwhelming, [like] there’s not enough time to finish, but we eventually bring ourselves together and push forward into completing this project.”

Sowles said that each year of the interior design program focuses on developing students’ skills “step by step” so that by the end of the program everything comes together. She said oftentimes the work is misconstrued as “just making things pretty” by people unfamiliar with interior design. 

“We get a lot of students that come into the program. They watch way too much HGTV [Home & Garden television], and they think that’s what they’re going to do. [But] it’s a lot of work, very time consuming, and they have to be really engaged with their topic,” Sowles said.

Students redesigned an existing space to serve communities in need, as seen in this student’s presentation. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

The annual project asks students to focus on how to make an existing space better serve a community in need in order to emphasize the range of responsibilities an interior designer has, according to Sowles. 

“Say someone’s a victim of domestic violence, and they show up some place with children. What do you do? How do you house them? How do you comfort them? How do you deal with the security issues that they’re confronting? [The design process] is much more complex,” she said.

Interior design senior Yessica Flores Estrada’s project redesigned south Fresno’s previous juvenile hall at Ventura and 10th Street into a community center. Her vision included a resource office for counseling services, a kitchen space for cooking classes and lounge areas to serve as safe spaces for community members. 

“I find that the common idea is that interior design is just the decorating and material aspect of designing, when in truth there is much more to the profession. There are countless technicalities the profession requires a designer to be aware of and keep informed about, including being adaptable to industry changes over time and having social consciousness,” Estrada said.

Kaur agreed that she first came into the program thinking it was mostly “picking out furniture and colors to make a space look aesthetically pleasing,” but now understands there’s more to it.

“After taking classes on interior design, I got the chance to understand what it actually means, which is making a space that not only impacts an individual themselves but also a community as a whole. Design can help bring people together,” Kaur said.

Headshots of senior students participating in the “Revive” showcase. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

Locations featured in “Revive” were around the United States, but on May 5, interior design students will be focusing on Downtown Fresno.

Students will go on a virtual walking tour for the Downtown Fresno Revitalization Project from 5 to 9 p.m. at the T.W. Patterson Building at 966 Fulton Mall, where it will showcase the Downtown Fresno “they would like to see,” according to the flier. 

More information can be found at its website.

Senior students presented their Capstone project during the reception on April 23. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)
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