Leave the phone, bring the fun

Interior design students compete at NARI Home Improvement Show

Imagine a backyard outdoor space with sunny colors, DIY outdoor chandeliers – and a drop-off zone for phones so families can unplug, enjoy the environment – and one another.

Interior Design students are competing in the annual Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show’s student competition. Their concept “Leave the Phone, Bring the Fun!” is a response to the idea of increasing family time without devices at hand.

The family-friendly open space also features a color palette inspired by the Arizona sun and plenty seating options and classic games like mancala, Twister, and UNO.

However, this contest for teams of interior design students is not solely about design. It is a challenge in project management, teamwork, and scale modeling and execution. Teams have three weeks and a budget of $250 to design a 12-by-12 space using this year’s theme of outdoor spaces.

It is as much about purpose as it is design, says interior design instructor Anna Janke, who led the project.

“Interior designers don’t just make things pretty. They respond to a challenge with a well-researched solution that adheres to standards for health, welfare and safety,” said Janke.

In this case, students considered tripping hazards, ensured a safe space for all families, and built it for the user experience.

With only three weeks to tackle the concept and scope of the project, students concept and build their space quickly. It’s an active classroom, as one team creates three different scale models – an exercise in precision. Another team paints the wood palette and assembles the family games. Every class meeting is crucial to completing their project on time.

The 2018 Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show will be held at the State Fair Exposition Center Thursday, February 15 – Sunday, February 18. Mount Mary University’s display is competing with other university and college teams, and visitors can vote for their favorite in person at the show.

Family fun, phone-free


Interior design students take over University's Instagram story for a day to show the setup of the show. More on @mountmaryuniversity