Show Illustrates Design Students’ ‘Limitless’ Talent

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The four design students exhibiting: Abigail Butler and Rebecca McClurg in Fashion Design, and Katie Bates and Amanda Benwire in Interior Architecture & Design

At 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 24, BJU’s Division of Art and Design will host a reception opening the Interior Architecture and Fashion Design Show. Four seniors are featuring their work in this show—Abigail Butler and Rebecca McClurg in Fashion Design and Katie Bates and Amanda Benwire in Interior Architecture & Design.

About the Theme

The four students chose “Limitless” as their theme to emphasize flexibility in their approach to the show and to design in general. “I guess for me it’s really more focused on the variety of things you can do within this major,” Bates said, describing the diversity of her three projects for the show.

In another light, the fashion design students are displaying limitlessness through creative personal concepts. One theme is based on Morocco and the other on airplanes. McClurg said, “When I was designing my senior collection, I wanted it to reflect my love of flying. … I wanted to combine the excitement of the airport with ordinary garments, so I worked on incorporating elements such as airplane wheels or runway lights into my pieces.”

Design is also limitless through time. Benwire said, “(There is) the continuation of design in everyday life … like redesigning part of a house. So, in one sense, design is not ever going away.”

Preparation for the Show

For an Interior Architecture & Design student, the first step of preparing for the show is choosing a real-world capstone project. Ideally, these projects align with students’ career interests. In Benwire’s case, the project fell in her lap. She was contacted by a local window fashion designer. “She was looking for an interior designer to help her with a client project she was working on,” said Benwire. Students can also choose clients they are personally connected to. For one of her 3 projects, Bates worked with her grandparents to reconfigure the flow of a new home for her grandparents that would allow them to age in place.

Next, students work with their clients to create a complete design solution for their space. For example, through the process of consultation and selection trips—in-store and online—Benwire helped her clients update their furniture and fabrics in their living room. She even accompanied them to the to-the-trade-only High Point Furniture Market in NC to select high-end furniture for the project. “That was a good experience,” she said.

The capstone projects may look different in Fashion Design than they do in Interior Architecture & Design, but they are no less time-consuming. The interior design students document and display their projects through photos, floor plans and renderings. Meanwhile, the fashion design students produce a portfolio of 12 unique looks for their capstone project displayed in sketches, textiles and dress forms. Both capstone projects require countless hours of preparation and careful attention to detail. McClurg said, “Last semester … it was an early night if I was able to leave the sewing lab by midnight.”

Students’ Perspective on the Show

The show is stressful yet rewarding for students. Though they have worked through the design process multiple times throughout their four years, the capstone projects give students an opportunity to bring what they have learned to the real world. The design show is their opportunity to showcase what they have accomplished. McClurg said, “I’m excited for the show, both because I get to display what I’ve poured my heart into and because the preparation is finally over!”

Seeing the end result also confirms for the students that they are in the right major. Benwire said, “I remember my freshman year that I came in and I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ And now … I know where I’m going (with it).”

The Need for Designers

Design is everywhere. Benwire said, “Design is definitely an aspect that people are needing every day, and it’s something that can get overlooked.” But the art of design is more than a job—it is a way to help people. Benwire said, “I want to be helping somebody. Other people might be doing that by teaching or (caring for) elderly people—well, for me it’s design.”

Benwire said, “It’s been really encouraging to see more and more students come in wanting to do the major.” With 42 students studying Interior Architecture & Design at BJU, more people want a career in design. But it’s not all about the money. They want to make a difference.

Department of Design head Laurilyn Hall said, “Interior Architecture + Design is a thriving major where creative students learn to use their giftedness for God’s glory. … As believers, we are all called to make something of this world and to show love to others in our service for our God. As designers, listening to our client needs, respecting their time and budget, and unifying their ideas into a cohesive space where they can fully utilize their own gifts is an essential way we obey that calling.”