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Interior design major wins top prize in national competition

Anderson University senior Sarah Wadding won first place this semester in a national student competition organized by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), earning Wadding $2,000 and a trip to Los Angeles to be honored at the ASID design gala this June.

“I’m just so excited,” Wadding said, “for this project and to end my college career on such a high note.”

The competition tasked students with researching a particular natural or manmade disaster and creating designs for emergency shelters. AU interior design professor Liz Mirick assigned the project to her contract design class, of which Wadding was a member.

Wadding estimates that during eight weeks of the fall 2013 semester and the following Christmas break, she spent upwards of 80 hours on the project. Rather than focusing on just one disaster, Wadding designed shelter pods—a series of collapsible rooms that can be easily transported and erected in any disaster area. She demonstrated how the pods would be effective in the aftermath of an earthquake in Alaska, a tornado in Kansas, or the civil war in Syria.

One of the contest’s judges, Vincent Carter, who is also affiliated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, praised Wadding’s project.

“Great research and rationale,” Carter wrote in his comments on the project. “I like the three-location approach to provide solutions in different environments.”

Wadding said that since winning the competition, interior designers from across the country have called to congratulate her and tell her they are watching her career with interest.

“I am just so unbelievably thankful because this is going to open up so many doors and so many opportunities,” Wadding said.
Wadding transferred to Anderson from Clemson University where she studied visual and performing arts. She said that when she entered AU’s interior design program, she was challenged to grow in the area of professionalism.

“I feel like I am very, very prepared to enter the professional world,” Wadding said. “I don’t think I could say that if I came from another university. Anderson really does a good job at preparing interior design students.”

Wadding is not the first AU student to excel in the national ASID student competitions. Interior design majors Ashton Capps and Misty Brecht received honorable mention in the contest in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

In 2013, Wadding also won a regional ASID student design competition through the organization’s Carolinas chapter. For this project, Wadding created a renovation plan for Hotel Florence in downtown Florence, South Carolina.

In addition, Wadding poured her energies into an internship with Greenville design firm LS3P the summer before her senior year. She described her internship as an “amazing experience” that taught her how her studies applied to the professional world of design.

As she graduates and looks for a job, particularly in hospitality or residential design, Wadding dreams of one day traveling to see the architecture of many cultures and to learn from those cultures’ design styles.

“I would love to travel and just see everything—every cornice, every entablature, every column of every building in every country,” Wadding said. “I feel like I’m always going to be a continual learner.”

Wadding’s work for the shelter project will be displayed in both Chicago and Los Angeles.



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