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Students' Winning Designs for Renovation of IHFC's Designer Resource Center on Display

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Scholarship awards are at stake this week as concepts created by High Point University interior design students are judged and a winning design is selected to guide a complete renovation of IHFC's Designer Resource Center. Interior designers, in town for the High Point Market, are selecting their favorites during a weeklong poll in the center. Nine large art boards rendered by hand are on display, accompanied by notebooks packed with detailed specifications for each design concept. Scholarships will be awarded to members of the top three teams when a panel of highly respected interior designers makes its final decisions Friday morning. IHFC will present both members of the winning team with $1,000 scholarships. Second-place team members will receive $500 scholarships, and creators of the design judged third best will receive $250 scholarships. IHFC will also contribute $1,500 for participating students to purchase tools of their trade. Judges are: Christi Barbour, founder and principal at Barbour Spangle Design Group and member of ASID, who has specialized in showroom design during the past 13 years; Don Hekhuis, a graduate of the Kendall College of Design and IFDA member who has been in the business 35 years and recently completed design of a flagship store for Fine Furniture in Shanghai; and Catherine Joyce, who opened Joyce Design Group in Greensboro in 1981 and specializes in two areas of commercial design: showrooms and retail stores, and long-term care facilities. "All of these students have done an outstanding job with this challenge," says Tom Lindh, IHFC president. "While the designs vary widely, they are all fresh and exciting. We would be proud to let any one of them guide us in this renovation, which we believe is critical to improving the customer experience for the Design trade at IHFC." Construction begins before the lights go out on the current market and will be completed before the fall market opens. The budget for the project will be substantial, Lindh says. Based on the design specifications, selected IHFC exhibitors that have declared themselves friendly to the design trade will be invited to provide furniture, lighting, decorative accessories, rugs and artwork for the project. The Designer Resource Center, sitting between the multi-million-dollar renovation of the Commerce Wing lobby that opened in October and the soon-to-be-expanded Interhall, provides a 4,000-square-foot refuge for interior designers. A concierge service and highly qualified staff assist designers; a catalog wall is loaded with catalogs, brochures, DVDs and other helpful materials from designer-friendly exhibitors; and an updated list of companies that welcome designers and require low or no minimum orders makes shopping more efficient. Students, all juniors in Stephen Huff's commercial design class, began the semester-long project in January, taking photos, measuring the space and interviewing IHFC staff about how they envision the renovated space will better serve interior designers at market. After also conferring with IHFC exhibitors whose products will be used in the new center, they spent the past two months preparing distinctive design solutions and specifying resources for every aspect of design execution. “This has been a great learning opportunity for our students,” says Huff, who practiced interior design for 15 years before joining the HPU faculty eight years ago. “It is a keystone in their design education. Many of our students are involved in the High Point Market. This space will constantly reinforce the importance of our program in the interior design community. It becomes an emblem of what our program can accomplish. … And, of course, it’s a chance for students to network with professionals from all over the world.” High Point University has a strong bond with the home furnishings industry. Participating students are interior design majors in the Knabusch-Shoemaker International School of Home Furnishings and Design, named after La-Z-Boy founders. The school, housed in a building bearing the name of La-Z-Boy Chairman Patrick H. Norton, has approximately 125 students majoring in interior design and home-furnishings marketing, the only program of its kind in the nation. Opening in 1921, IHFC was the original showroom building in High Point and after 85 years of expansion remains the centerpiece of the world’s largest home-furnishings trade show that attracts more than 90,000 participants twice a year to 2,600 showrooms covering 11.5 million square feet. As “Market Central,” IHFC alone is home to 650 of the leading home-furnishings manufacturers, including 13 of the top 20 companies, and covers 3.5 million square feet.

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