By Liana Bugslag
Bria Chatman, a Little Rock native, is a second-year interior design student at the University of Arkansas. She talks about her experience so far in the program, recalls memorable moments, and contemplates her future in the field.
Q: When and why did you first become interested in interior design?
A: I’ve always had an interest in designing, since I was in middle school. However, I didn’t decide that I wanted to design interiors until my junior year in high school. I realized that most people spend their days inside, so why not design something that will be seen every day.
Q: Why did you choose to attend the University of Arkansas?
A: Honestly, I chose here because it was a good distance (only three hours from Little Rock), and it was a decent price.
Q: Can you describe one of your most interesting projects or studios?
A: Last year, I had to design a lamp using a design from previous projects. The materials were basic paper materials, and the base was made out of plywood found at the university bookstore. I thought it was a great way to introduce furniture design and a way to ignite creativity.
Q: What are you working on now? Is there a design problem you are trying to solve?
A: Right now, we’re designing a museum. I’m currently in the “thinking” process, and we’re thinking of concepts and what will be in the museum.
Q: What are the essentials at your desk to ensure you’re successful in studio?
A: I need to have a snack and water, to make sure I don’t pass out from dehydration. Also, listening to music can keep me focused.
Q: Where do you get the motivation to attend studios and work on your portfolio?
A: I honestly don’t know. When I feel like I have nothing to do, I just go to studio and start working – and realize that I always have something to do.
Q: Do you use technology in your design work? Did you have those skills already, or did you learn them upon attending the U of A?
A: Yes, we use technology, and we are using programs that I had never heard of until I came to the U of A. But the professors have done a really good job at educating us in utilizing them.
Q: How do you handle the pressure of deadlines?
A: I always feel pressure but, unlike last year, I participate in other things that get my mind off of it for a little while. I realized that if I only focused on the deadline, it would only make me more anxious.
Q: What’s the most intricate design model you have built?
A: Earlier this semester, we had to create a model of an existing museum. I created the Knut Hamsun Center [located in Norway], and this museum was very unique because of the different wall heights. Also, each floor would get gradually smaller as you went up.
Q: How do you feel about the renovations of Vol Walker Hall and the Anderson Design Center? What do you think future students will get out of it?
A: I’m excited about it because I heard that we might get our own designated desk, and there will be more space and places for storage. The studio we have now gets cluttered very easily, and that can become a distraction.
Q: Have you had any travel experience or internships related to your major? If so, can you expand on them?
A: The only travel experience I’ve had so far was when we went on a field trip to St. Louis, in studio last semester. Although I’ve been there many times before, we got to visit many different types of architecture firms – and I thought that was interesting and different from when I went there with friends or family.
Q: What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your plans after graduation?
A: I’m not exactly sure yet, but I know that I want to go to graduate school. I also want to design mainly commercial spaces, like hotels and restaurants.