Thanks to some enterprising FACS furnishings and interiors students, five offices scattered about the UGA campus will soon experience a makeover.
As part of the UGA “Ugliest Office Makeover” competition, each student in Lilia Gomez-Lanier’s studio design course was paired with a faculty or staff member whose office was in need of a fresh look.
The students were tasked with creating design schemes that would improve the office based on the preferences of each faculty member.
Each design had a budget of $200, thanks to a grant from the Office of Service Learning and donations from Patcraft, Fowler Office Interiors, McGarity's Business Products and Chastain’s Office Furnishings and Supplies, which will allow for each office to be physically renovated.
The competition was a joint effort between FACS and Kizmet Adams, UGA’s Work/Life Balance coordinator.
“One of the issues that greatly affects an employee’s work/life balance is his or her office space,” Adams said. “A cramped, windowless, lowly-lit office can demoralize a worker and result in increased stress and decreased productivity. This project is designed to not only give the design students enrolled in this course a ‘real world’ experience, but also help improve the work environment of a few UGA employees, which is a clear win-win in my book.”
The project gave students an opportunity to work with a client in real-world conditions, Gomez-Lanier said.
“Number one the idea was to get the students exposed to working with a real client and with a real budget,” she said. “Having them be challenged with existing conditions within an existing room and what you could and could not do was an important thing because that’s part of real life being an interior designer. My impetus was to as quickly as possible get them acquainted with clients, get those communication skills working but also design within parameters.”
The students made site visits to the offices to which they were assigned and also interviewed the office occupants to get a sense for their preferences and needs, then followed up with hand renderings and drafts of the proposed changes.
On Tuesday, the students presented their ideas to the employees, who then selected their favorite among the five presentations.
One of the faculty members whose office was selected for a makeover, Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin from the UGA Department of Theatre and Film, called the experience “transformative.”
“It embodies, very much, what UGA has always been about in terms of experiential learning,” she said. “I have had a front row seat to see these young designers show me professionalism, show me courtesy, show me creativity and earlier today when they were presenting their designs I actually teared up and I told them that it was something
As they presented their designs, they reminded me that the space that I have inhabited in my office is actually a space that was making me work and live much lower than where my gifts and callings should be. Their designs reminded me of hope and future and possibility, and for that gift I am truly grateful.”
Courtney Miller, a junior from Lawrenceville, said the project was challenging, but worthwhile.
“From this project I learned a lot about time management and working with a client but also working in a group and kind of bouncing ideas off of each other,” she said. “It was a really great experience and I’m really glad that we had the opportunity.”
Winners of the competition were Callie Blackstock, Grace Brackman, Margaret Gouthrow, Emily Morrison and Abbie Tuma.
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