Remodeled Space Enhances Creative Spark for Interior Design Students at Colorado State University

Note to Reporters: Photos of the remodeled space are available upon request.

It was ironic that the students’ interior design studio at Colorado State University was a space out of date and lacking flexibility, with work surfaces and seating that were an ergonomic nightmare, making the space unlikely to inspire creativity. This semester, a newly renovated lab opened as part of a partnership with iconic furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, embracing best practices in interior design for learning spaces.

Funded by students through the University Facility Fee Advisory Board, the dean of the College of Applied Human Sciences, and Workplace Resources, a Herman Miller dealership, the redesign invites collaboration, creativity and the increased use of the latest research and technology for individual and group work. The total renovation was completed at a cost of $179,000, or $71 per square foot.

Herman Miller provided deeply discounted furniture for the space as part of its Learning Spaces Research Program, an ongoing project that partners with higher education institutions to pilot new approaches to teaching and learning.

“Students have long commented the existing space lacked furnishings that promoted their learning, technology requirements and comfort,” said Katharine Leigh, interior design professor who spearheaded the project. “Now, the space is a 24/7 haven for students working on papers, group activities or class projects.”

The laboratory, located on campus in Aylesworth Hall, hadn’t been renovated in at least 20 to 30 years. The new renovations include a coffee spot setting for student collaboration and informal meetings, a collaborative learning lounge equipped with advanced technology allowing sharing of student work electronically, a studio setting, team spaces and research areas in addition to ergonomically improved seating. The renovation included demolition of existing walls as well as new seating, tables, lighting and display surfaces.

The Herman Miller Learning Research Project helps universities examine ways spaces can support learning styles. The project also allows faculty researchers to collect data on environmental change, measures of creativity and student satisfaction and behavior change.

The laboratory and the Department of Design and Merchandising are part of the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State University.