Interior Design: Working well and doing good

“We spend close to 90 percent of our lives indoors. It means our health and well-being are directly impacted by interior design and indoor air quality,” says Interior Design Professor Ethan Lu.  That makes this year’s theme, “Designing for Wellness,” for the 2019 NY11+ Interior Design Student Exhibition especially pertinent. The non-profit showcases student work from top New York State educational institutions.

Standing in front of FIT’s student work display at the 2019 NY11+ Student Exhibition Event in the Teknion showroom. From left-right: Susan Forbes, Katherine Amato, Alexandra Fay, Michaela Sweetin, Immanuel Went, Andrew Gulino, Interior Design Chair Carmita Sanchez-Fong and professors Gordon Frey, Suzanne Lettieri, Andrew Seifer, and Ethan Lu

FIT alum Andrew Gulino’s fall 2018 thesis project, “Brushwick,” was chosen for the exhibit. His work was displayed at the Teknion showroom in Manhattan.

“Andrew Gulino’s project is an after-school art center in Brooklyn for underprivileged teens that would provide art courses not offered at their public schools,” says Professor Lu.

Andrew Gulino’s fall 2018 thesis project on display

Gulino’s thesis project covered topics, such as health and mental wellness, and design strategies, such as bringing natural ventilation and indirect daylight into the art studio spaces. His name of the art center, “Brushwick,” is a playful word pun on the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn.

“The thought behind the design of ‘Brushwick’ was a space that gives provides for the community and most importantly supports the art education. More and more public schools are dismantling their art programs due to budget cuts. ‘Brushwick’ allows underprivileged students to take engaging art courses and collaborate with artistic minds. In my high school, only one art class offered, so I wanted to create a space that benefited those who may not have the same opportunity like I had.” – Andrew Gulino

View of Teknion showroom’s main reception space with Interior Design Chair Carmita Sanchez-Fong and FIT students

“FIT’s Interior Design department has put a tremendous effort into addressing sustainability, health, and wellness across our curriculum.  Hopefully, this message will resonate further as our students become interior design practitioners,” says Professor Lu.


View of Teknion showroom’s main lecture space with Prof. Ethan Lu and FIT students. A panel of professionals discussed issues of health and well-being in the built environment

Professor Lu said he was impressed with the number of FIT faculty, students, and alumni who showed up to support NY11+, a coalition of New York State educational institutions that offer interior design degree programs.

“Building a support system of interior design education, professional examination, and state licensure is really important for the longevity of our profession,” says Professor Lu.  “We need more events like this from coalitions, such as IDLNY and NY11+, and associations, such as ASID and IIDA, in order to pave a strong career path for future interior design students and emerging professionals.”


Interior Design Prof. Suzanne Lettieri and FIT student standing in Teknion’s main reception space

A panel discussion followed the exhibition opening reception.  It was moderated by Benjamin Huntington, an ASID member and New York State Certified Interior Designer.  Panelists included Rebecca Steiger, Suzette Subance, and Angela Spangler.  They are working professionals from Gensler, TPG Architecture, and International WELL Building Institute.

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