It’s What Inside That Counts

Converse Interior Design Students to Exhibit at Spartanburg Art Co-op

Students and recent graduates who majored in interior design at Converse College will showcase their work at West Main Artists Co-op in the exhibit “Interiors from Studio 211,” Feb. 5 through March 2, giving the public an in-depth look at what it takes to design livable, functionable, and desirable spaces in buildings.

Much of work was based on well known buildings in Upstate South Carolina.

The exhibit of eight students’ work will be open for public viewing Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no admission fee to see this exhibit, which is one of three exhibits during February. The exhibits’ receptions will be Thursday, Feb. 21, 5 to 9 p.m., during the city’s monthly ArtWalk. The students, their professors, and the other exhibiting artists will be there to meet and greet, and to discuss their work.

“Interior design is one of those arts that most people don’t associate with the fine arts,” the Co-op’s Chair Beth Regula said. “However, it most certainly is an art and one that we here at the Co-op are extremely pleased to bring into the public’s view with this exhibit by Converse College students. Converse College’s interior design department is highly regarded throughout the nation, and its students are very sought after for their creativity, know-how, and professionalism. I am most appreciative to their professor and the guest curator for this exhibit Ruth Beals for coordinating so much of this exhibit. I encourage everyone to see these design projects, which are artwork of a different kind. It will make you think twice about the space in which you live and work.”

Upon entering The Venue, the Co-op’s largest exhibition hall (a converted church sanctuary), patrons will be presented with eight student projects. Each project will consist of several large posters that show how the student designed interior spaces. The posters will present concepts, floor plans, color schemes, lighting, furniture, safety regulations, schematics, photographs, computer-generated images, artistic inspirations, and geographical locations. Some of the projects were for commercial buildings with multiple rooms and floors. Other projects were for a healthcare clinic, coffee shop, private homes, and multi-use facilities, such as a public building that houses several small retail businesses.

“I am amazed at how detailed these student projects are,” Regula said. “Best of all, the average person with no professional understanding of interior design can enjoy seeing how the students take a project and explore every aspect of it -- everything from the client’s favorite color to state regulations on safety. They present a comprehensive design on how best to use the space available. Even though all of the projects were academic, they all strive for real-world application. You can take a casual look at the designs, colors, and furniture, or you can also read the text to have a detailed understanding of what these students brought forth. In some cases the student took her inspiration from a single piece of art to design the entire project.”

The students, graduates, and their projects are…

Kaitlyn Brown -- Portfolio Projects, corporate, retail, bathhouse

Sandy Cullen -- Common Ground, historic storefront for a restaurant and residence

Briana Garris -- Green Loom, mill conversion for condominiums and shared spaces

Maggie Gaston -- Behavioral Health Clinic, renovation for services for eating disorders

Hannah Harrelson -- Gallery 247, original building design for a bed and breakfast

Jessica Peeler -- Ultimate Play, adaptive reuse for a community center

Jordan Raska -- Beaumont Market, mill conversion for restaurants and grocery

Sarah Russell -- Behavioral Health Clinic, renovation for services for mood disorders

In describing this exhibit, Beals said, “Selected projects from the Interior Design Program at Converse College illustrate the combination of aesthetics and functionalism. The interior design program is well known for its excellence in design, with recent awards in national and regional competitions and an outstanding job placement rate. It is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

“These hypothetical projects focus on a variety of populations in diverse settings,” she continued. “Beaumont Mills is featured as the base building in two projects: a condominium with a community environment and a restaurant market place. Greenville Healthcare Systems provided use of an existing area for a mental behavioral health care clinic. An original three-story residence was designed to be a bed-and-breakfast in rural Asheville, and an historic building in Winston-Salem was used for a coffee house restaurant with a second floor residence. An urban library was converted into a Baltimore community center to empower underprivileged children. The top floor in a Los Angeles skyscraper was the site for a corporate headquarters featuring collaborative work spaces and best practices for wellbeing. Three posters prepared for an awards event feature a gamut of diversity, size and sites.

“This senior level work is comprised of digital images printed on paper. It is created using a design process beginning with inquiry and research using responsible resourcing, exploration through sketching, and final solutions composed with AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, SketchUp, PowerPoint and InDesign along with hand sketching and rendering in watercolor, marker and color pencil.”

West Main Artists Co-op is one of Spartanburg’s leading arts agencies. It is a nonprofit agency, supported mainly through sales, memberships, donations, and grants. The converted church houses about 30 studio spaces, three public art galleries, an art boutique that sells members’ creative works, a working printery, two stages, and a ceramics studio. Locally made art is displayed abundantly throughout the entire three-stories building. For more information about West Main Artists Co-op, please visit the facility or visit online at

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