USM’s interior design program hosted its first designer showhouse on November 2 at the home of Steven and Wendy Farrell to raise funds for the program and to display the talents of the program’s senior students.
The event provided products available for sale from local vendors including Anderson’s Design Center, Tish Gammill Home, Summer House in Ridgeland, Blooms, J. Allan’s, Ashley’s Furniture, Swatches and Robert Williams’ artwork from The Gilded Grasshopper. Most of the vendors agreed to a profit share, meaning the profits from items sold will go to USM’s interior design program for future endeavors.
Alum and local interior designer Matt Haskins proposed the idea of the showhouse as a fundraiser for the program. Haskins has served as the senior students’ mentor for this event, meeting with them at the home and taking trips with them to showrooms to find pieces for the event.
“I decided it would make a great learning experience for the students to get out of the classroom and network with local vendors,” said Claire Hamilton, associate professor and interior design program coordinator. “As their instructor, I love that they are out of the classroom meeting with area business owners and also learning brand names and products that are common in the residential industry.”
Hamilton said that eight senior students have furnished the home with all of its products, experiencing “ups and downs… from finding exciting products to later learning they [had] been sold which [required] them to start over on their design.” Clinton native Audrey Neeld said that the most stressful thing is when they would find something and then realize that it had already been sold. Shanequia Whitfield from Mobile, Alabama said that they had to start their living room design over last week because they had to incorporate the homeowners’ piano last minute.
The task of creating a designer showhouse is not a common project for students to undertake and, according to Hamilton, is something “no other design program has done in our region.”
“It’s a lot different from a model in class,” said Erin Baugh from Mobile, Alabama.
Shyanna Bell from Forest, Mississippi said they had to learn how to keep the client in mind while picking out the products.
“While it isn’t unusual for professional designers to design a showhouse, it is very rare for students to tackle a project this size,” Hamilton said. “It is a little intimidating not knowing if the products will be available on the date we need them, but we know we have built good relationships with area businesses that we can make it happen.”
For more information about the interior design project or program, contact Claire Hamilton at 601-266-6437 or through the program’s Facebook page, Southern Miss Interior Design Program.