ISU interior design students honored in Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition


AMES, Iowa — Three Iowa State University interior design seniors have been recognized in the Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition 2015.

Mackenzie Braak, Garland, Texas, and Kylie Roozeboom, New Sharon, were named semifinalists in the third annual competition. Emily Haines, Minneapolis, received an honorable mention. Five semi-finalists and five honorable mentions were selected from among more than 700 entries from 60 schools.

The competition challenged junior- and senior-level undergraduate students enrolled in accredited interior design programs to create the "NEXT" coworking environment — a flexible, collaborative set of spaces for independent freelancers, contractors, entrepreneurs, mobile and remote workers who might ordinarily work from home or another non-office space but who are attracted to the sense of community and "sharing mindset" provided by coworking.

Entries were to incorporate furniture, technology and architectural solutions available from Steelcase Inc. Up to 20 percent of the project’s feature areas could include custom-designed products.

Braak combined industrial light fixtures with rustic brick and wood elements and a simple, warm color scheme in the work café for her NEXT competition project.

Organized chaos
To provide choice and control over how and when they work, Braak's design for the fictitious NEXT community members included interior spaces to meet different functions with diverse furniture choices that allow for rearrangement to fit users' needs at any time. These spaces incorporated technology like wifi and offered public and private offices, meeting rooms, lounges, comfortable desks and storage as well as a work café. She also created "bump" spaces for quick conversations, sitting and note-taking in the "in-between" areas.

These "bold, diverse and flexible spaces, when needed, are able to merge together for the purpose of sharing ideas and resources," Braak said. "By implementing a simple color scheme comprising unexpected patterns and textures with the commonality of both modern and rustic resources, the concept of coworking thus becomes 'organized chaos.'"

Wood paneling and flooring suggestive of stone combine with pops of color in Kylie Roozeboom's proposed "living room" for impromptu meetings.

Hinting at nature
Featuring natural materials and pops of color, Roozeboom's design for an adaptive, flexible workplace included a reception area, a work café, a "living room" for impromptu meetings, an open office with options ranging from traditional benching to a collaborative lounge area, a distance-learning classroom and a set of private offices to serve as a temporary escape from the open office plan.

"My research showed that clear colors paired with natural tones and elements creates an ideal setting for productivity and user engagement. When developing my material palette, I took inspiration from nature but I did not want it to be completely obvious. I wanted to hint at nature, not copy it," Roozeboom said.

Emily Haines used color and scale to emphasize points of collaboration in her project's flexible open office space.

Unobstructed creativity
Haines used color and scale to emphasize points of collaboration, such as the work café and open office in her proposal. Sharp angles represent the changing of ideas, she said. Architectural features help to create movement while transparency in the open office allows for "unobstructed creativity."

"Through my research I learned that most of our innovative ideas come from interactions with others, so I focused on interactive spaces. Speaking with people from different backgrounds, with different skills, brings out new knowledge and ideas that were previously unimaginable," Haines said. "And I also wanted to create a fun space where my friends and I could see ourselves working someday."

The Iowa State students completed their winning projects in the fall 2015 interior design office design studio taught by Associate Professor Cigdem Akkurt (Roozeboom) and Assistant Professors Nicole Peterson (Haines) and Joori Suh (Braak).

All three students will receive a custom-ordered Think chair from Steelcase. In addition, Braak and Roozeboom each will receive an expense-paid trip to Steelcase University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, to present their projects in person to the judges’ panel, meet with Steelcase executives and participate in other learning opportunities. One overall winner will be chosen from among the semifinalists in January.

Mackenzie Braak, Interior Design senior, (214) 796-1669,
Kylie Roozeboom, Interior Design senior, (641) 660-2561,
Emily Haines, Interior Design senior, (612) 482-1176,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,