Competing In A Challenging Design Charette

August 23, 2012 Awards & Competitions, Interior Design 0 Comments

When Lisa Sneddon, an interior design student from Harrington College, was asked by her design instructor to participate in a Design Charette at NeoCon 2012, she quickly agreed! See the background on the contest at Today, Lisa shares her experience working on the dynamic and intense design competition.
Lisa said, "Our team's challenge was to transform the south lobby of the Merchandise Mart into a functional, flexible WiFi destination lounge and event space that respects the original architecture, interior design and history of the Mart, while also supporting the Merchandise Mart brand, message and icon as a premier Chicago destination.
Charette Design BoardThe program requested we include two custom design elements, three or more products found in NeoCon showrooms and an interior architecture component that did not alter the existing building architecture (so more than just a furniture layout was required). ADA accessibility and sustainability needed to be considered in all solutions. It was a low tech design charette so no computers, printers, internet or even glue guns were allowed.  We were supplied with two foam core boards and a printed floor plan of the south lobby. At the end of the charette, each group was required to give a 10 minute verbal presentation of their solution along with a presentation board which needed to include - design concept, hand sketches (minimum floor plan, elevation and perspective), and three or more products found in NeoCon showrooms that would be used in solution."

The Design...
"Initially inspired by the art deco architecture of the Mart, we chose the chevron shape to guide us. This shape is already used so smartly around the Mart and through its symbolism we felt it represented an arrow looking forward to the future, and what the future holds for the Mart. Building on an overall chevron shaped space plan with many paths to guide visitors through the space, we then created a glass display mezzanine above the entry doors to lower your initial entrance into the lobby and lead you into the great space beyond.  The glass mezzanine would serve as a display area for showrooms or for the other diverse tenants that have recently started moving into the Mart such as high tech companies and radio stations.
Charette TeamWe then focused on the reception desk and lobby, adding interactive TVs near the entrance to help visitors locate showrooms and offices in the Mart. The reception desk and a mirrored desk on the north side of the lobby could easily be converted into bars for catered events. The furniture included plugs and charging stations and could be moved around to accommodate a private group of up to 25 or to create private areas to use your laptop. In addition, we included a plant wall and a new reflected ceiling plan that provided more lighting and showcased the murals running along the top of the space."

The Experience...
"This was a great experience for many reasons.First, you got a real world example and time frame. Many times a client can ask for a proposal and ideas within less than a day's notice and it's great to be able to rely on your basic hand drafting, space planning and conceptual sketching skills to get the idea across.
Having to coordinate all the ideas and present them in a short period of time professionally was a great team work experience. It was great to meet students from other schools that I will be able to keep in touch with and network with long after I graduate.
During the competition, I also realized that without having my experience from Harrington, there was not much I would have been able to do to solve the problem other than maybe pick out some colors and some furniture. Drawing and reading in scale, learning how to do a floor plan and elevation in drafting drafting, space planning, codes, perspective drawing and creating presentation boards were all helpful skills and knowledge that I had to rely on my education to do.  Especially the codes and ADA!
It was so wonderful to see some of my favorite teachers come out to watch and support me and the other Harrington students while we were competing!"
Lisa SneddonMany thanks to Lisa for competing, reperesenting Harrington in the event and for sharing your experience!

About Lisa Sneddon:
After receiving a B.S. in Clothing and Textiles from Virginia Tech in 1992, Lisa Sneddon went on to establish a business that helped families find senior living residences for their loved ones. Inspired by the smart design the newer communities were using to allow seniors the freedom to live more independently, Lisa decided she wanted to return to school to be a part in design. After researching local schools, Lisa chose Harrington based on its inteiror design reputation and has been working on her B.F.A in Interior Design at the Harrington College of Design since 2009, with an expected graudation of Spring 2013.


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