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Interior design students exhibit ‘Full Spectrum’

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Eleven interior design students will exhibit their senior thesis projects in Full Spectrum, opening Thursday, April 30, in the Cummings Art Gallery at Mercyhurst University. The students will be honored at a reception on April 30 from 7 to 9 p.m.; the show continues through May 17.

Interior Design Chair Kathy Weidenboerner challenged her students to research a design issue, analyze previous attempts to address the problem, and propose a better solution to the problem at hand. Many projects address an unmet societal need or demonstrate new ways to create our interior environments.

The students describe their projects:

Lauren Agnoli: The Château (a women’s domestic abuse shelter). Mainly geared toward the homeless and individuals of lower socioeconomic means, women’s shelters do not meet the socio-psychological needs of middle- to upper-class victims of abuse. The Chateau, a shelter designed using approach-avoidance theory, will meet the needs of victims of higher economic levels, thus increasing the likeliness that these female victims of abuse will seek shelter.

Erica Albornoz: Piece of Mind (a university student wellness center). A center design based on the premise that student interaction and collaboration are increased in environments that are designed to be predictable, reasonable, manageable and comprehensible, thus reducing the amount of stress a student experiences.

Tiffanie Bell: Endorfuns (family fun center). “Laughter is the best medicine” is the core theme of this unique facility for family fun that engages participants in endorphin-producing antics.

Leyla Dombrowski: Full Cycle (bicycle shop). Spatial design using sequential flow will support customer engagement in the process of designing and building of their custom bike and thus increase customer satisfaction and retail sales.

Gabbi Kasten: Cocoon (student housing). A holistic approach to designing university housing with emphasis on a sense of safety and security.

Rachel Lane: Serendipity (European youth hostel on a night train.  Logo pictured at right). Hop aboard the night train in a youth hostel designed with juxtaposition, exaggerated proportions, and chance that allows individuals to be less inhibited and more open to new experiences, thus increasing creativity.

Dane Rimko: The AM (24/7 university center). Human behavioral theory is applied to design a student facility that maximizes positive feelings such that college students will choose to make use of this space in late night hours over less healthy choices such as drinking and partying.

Melissa Salerno: Fresh Direction (market). Using visual merchandising, a supermarket has been created that informs and encourages healthy purchases by its consumers.    

Jaisa Siler: Lotus (all-natural beauty salon and spa). Technology and education are used to inform women about healthy personal products and lifestyle choices.

Silvia Swanson: Om (university fitness spa). Based on Attention Restoration Theory, the use of soft fascination features which include views of pleasing back yards, gardens, nature trails, fields/forests and other natural habitats that promote attention recovery and reflection, as well as use of engaging prompts, will make students feel comfortable leading to the growth of habitual physical activity.

Leanne Zitzka: Enzo (adoption transition center). A facility designed using open space planning with a residential quality that promotes open communication and intimate social interaction, thus supporting the needs of adopting families.

Cummings Gallery is located in the lobby of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center on the Mercyhurst campus. It’s open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 2 to 5 p.m. For information, contact gallery director Heather Dana,, 814-824-2092.