BC graduate wins interior design competition

Jennifer Baarley, who recently graduated from Bellevue College in March, was part of a four student team who placed first in the International Interior Design Association local student charette. A charette  is any collaborative session in which a group of designers draft a design or a solution to a design problem. The local student charette  consists of students from Alaska, Washington and Idaho.

By winning first place in the local charette, Baarley’s team won a trip to Los Angeles to compete in the West Coast charette as a part of the Northern Pacific chapter against the Oregon chapter, as well as both the Northern and Southern California chapters.

Baarley and her team won first place in the West Coast charette and were able to compete at the international level in Chicago.

“This year was the first year of the charette and it was a big success. It has been in the works for quite some time. I encourage design students to sign up when it comes out next year. It’s not only a great learning experience but it’s also a great networking tool for a potential career starter,” discussed Baarley.

The idea for the student design charette events started at the first annual leader’s retreat of the four West Coast IIDA Chapters. Their vision was to be able to showcase the up-and-coming interior design talent across the region.

At each level of competition students are put into teams consisting of student members from different schools and grade levels and of varying IIDA Chapters at the West Coast level. “By mixing up the students it helps you learn how to work with others and I feel that is a quality many firms are looking for,” Baarley explained.

Students are given six hours to solve a design challenge using only hand drafting and rendering.  “In the West Coast charette we were given a floor plan, elevations, site photos, working materials. We were not given that luxury in the international charette,” said Baarley.

In the international charette students had to bring their own tools and go to shops to gather samples of fabrics and flooring.

Baarley was first introduced to interior design by a friend of her mother’s when she was very young.

“She worked from home and had an office set up with a drafting table, supply cabinet and storage for plans. She seemed very happy doing her job. I remember her going back to school to update her degree at Bellevue College. She was my inspiration without me even knowing it at the time, so I guess you could say that it always has been a passion.”

Baarley is working at JPC Architects in Bellevue  she began working there as a part time receptionist while attending Bellevue College.

Baarley said, “I recommend anyone to get a job in their field no matter what the position is because you learn a lot about the company and if you like the work that you are wanting to go into.”
Baarley and her team did not win the international charette, but Baarley still got something out of the competition. “Although my team did not place I took away knowledge of how to work with others. I won two previous charettes and went to the international level which only a handful of people can say they’ve had a chance at. I feel very lucky,” Baarley explained.

Baarley is now looking into the process of receiving her National Council for Interior Design Qualification. “If I can give a word of advice it would be to never stop going for your dreams and if you want something ask for it, because no one will know what you want unless you tell them.”

For more information on the IIDA competitions visit iida.org.