Auburn interior design students win first place in national design contest

AUBURN – A team of Auburn University interior design students, competing in the Interior Design Educators Council 2012 National Student Design Competition for the first time, earned first place for its design of an art therapy center.

More than 300 students from 45 institutions across the country were challenged to identify the problems faced by South Africa’s “Lost Generation,” the children who have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS, such as safe housing, education and access to healthcare. Student teams chose one aspect of a problem and developed a design response located within their country, while representing their culture and heritage.

Lindsay Mercer, Savannah Roberts and Shellie Sauls won the top prize with a proposal called “Canvas” for an art therapy center for the children.

“The students were inspired by the opportunity to be good stewards as interior designers and have the chance to make a positive impact on a group of people in great need,” said Kelly Martin, graduate teaching assistant in interior design and one of two faculty advisors on the project from the Department of Consumer Affairs in Auburn’s College of Human Sciences.

“We wanted to create something that would stand out from the competition,” said Sauls. “An art therapy center is not only a unique approach, but would also be an appropriate way to help children.”

Mercer added that music and visual art can be effective therapy tools, particularly for children suffering emotionally.

Assistant professor and faculty advisor Lindsay Tan said teams of two or three students spent the first two weeks of the spring semester preparing for the contest, including 21 seniors who will graduate this summer from Auburn’s top-ranked interior design program.

Three Auburn teams competed in the South Region of the student design competition, which boasted 34 entries from 86 students from 12 schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The other Auburn entries were “Rooted,” designed by Anna Campbell, Susanna Foster and Laura Giles and “Growing Healthy Futures,” designed by Bradley Brock, Haley Grant and Kate Killebrew.

Only the top three teams from each of the council’s five regions were sent to Baltimore, Md., for the national contest during the IDEC 2012 annual conference.

(Written by Amy Weaver)

Contact: Lindsay Tan, College of Human Sciences, (334) 844-1334 (, or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (