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CAST 50×50: IIDA, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

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The College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) at Illinois State University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This series, CAST 50×50, is designed to highlight 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and organizations within CAST that make the college special. These notable people will tell you that every day in CAST is a great day to be a Redbird!

#CAST50 is excited to move into our final phase of our anniversary celebration with some of our registered student organizations (RSO). To start us off, we chatted with Alexandra Ferrara, the president of the Illinois State University chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).

Tell us about IIDA. What is the chapter’s mission and vision?

IIDA is a professional commercial design organization with chapters all across the world. We have a “campus center” chapter here at Illinois State University. The mission and vision of IIDA is

“IIDA, with respect for past accomplishments of Interior Design leaders, strives to create a strong niche for the most talented and visionary Interior Design professionals, to elevate the profession to the level it warrants, and to lead the way for the next generation of Interior Design innovators. The Association provides a forum to demonstrate design professionals’ impact on the health, safety, well being and virtual soul of the public, balancing passion for good design and strategy for best business practices. IIDA stands at the intersection of passion and strategy where designers create extraordinary interiors and experiences.”

Our chapter is constantly growing and evolving. We grew from about 40 members to 65 members this academic year (we only have about 90 students in the interior design program), which was an awesome achievement for us. A large majority of our members are interior design majors, but we also have a few construction management and FCS teacher education majors in the chapter. As a student chapter we work to provide members with opportunities that help to enhance their professional development and leadership skills, both generally and specifically in interior design.

What does IIDA do? Does the chapter travel or participate in service activities?

IIDA strives to be an RSO that offers many opportunities throughout each semester and that has a very high rate of participation.

“IIDA provides at least two opportunities for members to travel each year.”

Service is an important aspect of IIDA. We have been very involved with Habitat for Humanity, Recycling Furniture for Families, Festival of Trees, and other various organizations. Just recently, the chapter has volunteered at Evergreen Assisted Living and hosted a birdhouse arts and crafts session for the residents. IIDA also does a lot of fundraising. We can often be found selling baked goods in the lobby of Turner Hall or promoting members and friends to eat at Potbelly on RSO fundraising nights.

A new program that started up this past fall semester was the mentor/mentee program. Every member participates in this program and are able to attend multiple events each semester to hang out with their mentor/mentee. Last semester we had a trivia night and a holiday party that included building gingerbread houses. The interior design program is already a tight-knit group of individuals, however the mentor/mentee program allows for students to interact with students of different program levels.

In addition to having monthly guest speakers, IIDA provides a lot of networking opportunities. We set up at least one in-town tour with a firm each semester and work with the professional Central Illinois chapter to attend networking events such as Fall Mixer or Photobash. These opportunities give members the opportunity to interact with professionals and develop important networking skills.

“Members are required to participate in the mentor/mentee program, one service, fundraising, and networking event each semester.”

IIDA provides at least two opportunities for members to travel each year. We go on an annual trip to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, which is a building that houses hundreds of design showrooms. For our second out-of-town trip this year, members of IIDA went up to Holland, Michigan, to tour Herman Miller HQ, a prominent design company. We had the chance to speak with leaders of the company, and even see the manufacturing process of the iconic Aeron chair. Members also often travel up together to Chicago for NeoCon, an annual commercial design convention during the summer.

Members of our student IIDA often submit projects to national IIDA design competitions or state competitions, such as the annual Illinois IIDA RED Awards.

If a student was thinking about joining what do they need to know?

IIDA has one chapter meeting each month where we have dinner and a guest speaker from the field present. These guest speakers are most often members’ favorite parts of IIDA. We are able to ask them questions and learn about the many different paths that can be taken in the interior design field.

There are multiple requirements that are asked of IIDA members, including participation in the mentor/mentee program and one service, fundraising, and networking event each semester. Dues are $30 per school year; dues cover the cost of food and other fun things that we provide for the chapter (such as free bowling for a mentor/mentee event)! New members are accepted at the start of each semester.

“Interior design is a respectable field in the applied arts industry.”—President, Alexandra Ferrara

We have a variety of different board positions that help develop great leadership skills. Depending on the preference of the board member, they might have a “shadow” as well. The shadow is usually a younger member in the chapter and will help them out with any miscellaneous tasks.

As the president of IIDA tell us about what you do on a daily basis? What about the rest of the executive board?

The overarching responsibility of the president of IIDA is to act as a liaison to members of the student chapter, the executive board, professionals, and the community. Overseeing board members and delegating tasks is another important part of the president’s job, as well as motivating members to stay involved. The president also sits on the IIDA CICC  (Central Illinois City Center) Committee, which is the professional IIDA chapter in Central Illinois, and helps plan events as well as motivate student IIDA engagement in these events. Being president also comes with handling a lot of “behind-the-scenes” tasks that often do not get thought about, such as room reservations or picking up mail from the Student Activities office.

IIDA President Alexandra Ferrara

IIDA would not be able to function without the hard work of the executive board. The board meets biweekly to give updates on projects and discuss ideas with each other. Here are the current board members and positions:

  • President Alexandra Ferrara
  • Vice President Allyisa Jaques (member recruitment and mentor/mentee program)
  • Treasurer Scott Ramirez
  • Secretary Kate Ioerger
  • PR Erin Kelly (social media and apparel)
  • Social Chair Angie Bonk (plans in-town tours, networking events, and out-of-town trips)
  • Program Coordinator Hannah Nail (schedules guest speakers)
  • Service Chair Erin Kurecki (schedules at least four service opportunities each semester)
  • Fundraising Chair Rachael Trout (schedules at least four fundraising opportunities each semester)

As mentioned earlier, our chapter is constantly growing and evolving. We are currently working on restructuring the board to be more efficient. The board member positions starting next academic year will include

  • President
  • Vice president of membership
  • Vice president of operations
  • PR
  • Event coordinator
  • Service chair
  • Fundraising chair

Anything special about IIDA you would like to share?

IIDA also strives to promote positive views of interior design as a profession. There is a misconception among the general public that “design” and “decorating” are interchangeable words. We try to engage in as much community outreach as we can to spread the word that interior design is a respectable field in the applied arts industry and has a large effect on the way that humans experience their built environment.

Have questions about IIDA? Contact President Alexandra Ferrara