Bellevue College has recently been ranked nationally as one of the top 10 schools for Interior Design. Internationally, BC’s Interior Design program places within the top 20 schools, recognized alongside schools in London, Paris, Italy and Hong Kong.
BC offers both a two-year Associate’s of Arts in Interior Design or four-year Bachelor of Applied Arts degrees. The core courses of the Interior Design program aim to advance students’ visual, oral and written communication. In the program, “students learn foundational skills in both manual and computer graphics through exposure to design studio processes and methodologies,” according to BC’s Interior Design website. In addition, students have the opportunity for internships to give them hands-on experience with Interior Design firms. Students who are enrolled in the BAA program will present a capstone research project in their fourth year which will be a culmination of what they learned during their time in the program.
“It surprised me at first to hear that we were ranked,” commented Program Chair of the Interior Design Program Dan Beert, “I was hearing about it from people coming into our orientation sessions.” Beert believes one of the reasons for the high rating is the structure of the curriculum and experience of the instructors. “It’s an applied degree so having practitioners and people who have wide experience makes them relevant,” explained Beert, “We have first-hand stories and experience to share with students.”
Moreover, the program’s curriculum combines an academic and practice background to prepare students for the work environment, said Beert. He also credits his program’s success to the growth of Seattle. In Seattle, technology corporations such as Microsoft and Amazon continue to expand throughout the state. “The construction industry is booming around here,” explained Beert, “whenever you see high rises coming up, you need someone to design that space.”
Finally, Beert recognizes the program’s accreditation as another reason for attracting students and being ranked nationally. BC’s Interior Design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. CIDA evaluates numerous schools around the nation, and in Washington, they’ve accredited Bellevue College, Washington State University and the Art Institute of Seattle. “It’s a really intense evaluation process,” said Beert, “it’s a continuous process of assessing what students are coming out with and what professionals determine what graduates need to succeed.” Being CIDA-accredited is the “acknowledged seal of approval for the program,” noted Beert.
Faisal Rahim is a senior in BC’s Interior Design program preparing his capstone project for the Senior Exhibit on March 24 from 5 to 8 p.m., and March 25 to 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in L124. “I appreciate the fact that we do architecture; we are heavily influenced by architecture and it’s something I’m interested in pursuing in the future,” explained Rahim of his decision to enroll at Bellevue College’s ID program. “We are not stuck in one bubble, it’s diverse.”
In comparison with other ID programs around Washington, Rahim feels Bellevue College teaches students a wider aspect of interior design. “I’ve interacted with students in different schools who are in the interior design program. They don’t put much emphasis on graphics, presentation and architecture as a whole,” commented Rahim, “If you compare our work and WSU, Cornish or the Art Institute, they have strong skills, but we are capable of looking into a project differently, in a more creative and abstract way.”
On the other hand, Rahim shared that BC’s program isn’t perfect. “The Interior Design field deals with a lot of materials like floorings and walls. That is something that we are behind in. We are so focused on how the foundation and structure is that we probably need to focus more on materials,” said Rahim. “I’m still not that comfortable discussing materials and sourcing.”
Although the national recognition of BC’s Interior Design program has brought attention to the school, Beert noted that the program “is not perfect at all.”
“There are some growing pains that come along with the recognition,” he explained, “As much as we think we’ve learned, it seems every year something new comes up that challenges us in a new way and we have to respond to it.”
Regardless, Beert is focused on maintaining the CIDA-accreditation and offering high-standard classes. “Our mission statement is rigor, relevance and responsibility. Our program is put together considering those things, which ensures quality in our classes.”