Baylor interior design program continues to grow and succeed

Rachel Clay, Interior Design from Austin, TX AND Annalisa Cheeley, Interior Design from Coeur d'Alene, ID

By Alina Wong | Staff Writer

After over 20 years at Baylor, the initially small interior design program has seen a significant increase in people over the past few years. Interior design professor Ann Theriot attributed the program’s success to the recent upturn in economy, which has relinquished some fears on employment stability and cast a more positive light on job prospects for interior design majors.

“The position of Baylor in its national rankings, its Christian identity, and its interior design accreditation gives it a unique edge,” Theriot said. “There are many top tier schools with accredited programs, but the combination of Baylor’s tier level plus its Christian identity is a unique draw that brings students to our program. Plus, interior design majors have an employment rate of 80-85 percent upon graduation that is high for any major.”

She continued to speak on the program’s increasing recognition in the media and among public firms. “We get approached by firms regularly who want Baylor interior design interns. We got approached last semester by a firm in Austin who we, to our knowledge, did not have a Baylor student employed at. Through their own channels they heard that Baylor interior design is putting out the best interior design graduates in Texas. Our program is also growing in media coverage as more faculty members are researching, publishing and working on projects within the community. Just five years ago, many people on campus didn’t even know we existed. That would be a rare situation today.”

Despite the program’s slow but steady rise at Baylor, Theriot and a number of interior design students wondered about the recognition the program is getting because of one lacking factor: none of the classrooms or studios in the interior design building have windows.

Several studies over the past decade have already shown that natural lighting is important for the well-being of students when it comes to their performance, health and learning capabilities. However, New Jersey freshman Angeline Wong described that the interior design students at Baylor often endure long stretches of time without daylight due to studio hours, and the duration needed to complete their projects in the Goebel building.

“For many other majors, you can study in Moody or the BSB and get lots of sunlight,” Wong said. “But for interior design majors, all of our resources are kept at Goebel and it’s the only place with enough space for us to work on our projects.”

Due to the tedious nature of their projects, students spend a considerable amount of hours in the artificially lit building. Some have even stayed overnight. Illinois freshman Annie Bishop said, “I spent 48 hours in that building once. I went home only for an hour to grab food.”

Idaho freshman Annaliese Cheeley, added half-jokingly in regard to the lighting in the building, “The artificial lights hurt my eyes so much I sometimes wear sunglasses in the studio to focus.”

Celina freshman Victoria Segraves said “You would think that the interior design building would be a creative and comfortable place but the lack of daylight makes it hard to be creative and motivated.”

Overall, the students expressed their bewilderment over the fact that the building designated to the major specializing in the design of interior spaces could have such a flaw. The building was originally built for printing purposes, thus the need for windows was minimal. Over the years, it was passed to environmental studies before finally landing in interior design.

“Light would be good on many levels for my students’ health because they’re in here so long,” Theriot said. “It would also be good for their design work because natural daylight is certainly going to impact the way that they see color.”

Although many of the students and Theriot herself saw the great value natural lighting would have for the students, she was unsure about how much Baylor would prioritize their situation. “Baylor would need to consider this a long-term investment. I’m not sure that this is on Baylor’s list. But, I would love for Baylor to see the qualities of this program and to invest in it.”