Sources: Barbara Anderson, 785-532-1304, Barbara@k-state.edu;
and Michael Dudek, 785-532-1324, mdudek@k-state.edu
Hometown connection: Fort Riley, Hutchinson, Kingman and Manhattan, Kan.; and Crystal Lake, Ill.
Photos available: http://www.k-state.edu/media/images/dec11/photo1vintagecar12811.jpg and http://www.k-state.edu/media/images/dec11/photo2garland12811.jpg
Cutlines: No. 1, A vintage toy car is among the holiday decorating touches university students used at the home of the university president. No. 2, Elyse Johnson, top; Emily Galliart, middle; and Krystal Gantz put finishing touches on their holiday designs for the president's home on campus.
News release prepared by: Jane Marshall, 785-532-1519, jpm2@k-state.edu

Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011

Decking the halls: Interior design students team up to decorate president's home for the holidays

MANHATTAN -- The holiday decorating talents of Kansas State University interior design students are now on display in a very important campus setting: the home of the Kirk and Noel Schulz, the university president and first lady.

It all started last year when the Schulzes decided to make their on-campus home a stop on the annual Friends of McCain Holiday Home Tour.

"Kirk and I are always looking at ways to involve students in activities we are doing related to the house or our other events," said Noel Schulz, who also is the Paslay professor of electrical and computer engineering. A year ago she contacted Barbara Anderson, head of the department of apparel, textiles and interior design. Would students be interested in decorating the home for the tour and the holiday season?

Yes.

"While it is not a typical interior design project it was beneficial for the students to deal with a high-level client on a project with lots of exposure," said Michael Dudek, associate professor. "Since opportunities with real projects, real clients, real schedules and real budgets are rare we decided to make it a studio project."

Interior Design Studio 5, the third-year design studio, is taught by Dudek and Hyung-Chan Kim. Students were divided into teams of three or four and given two weeks to develop concepts, budgets and presentations.

Their assignment was to design holiday decorations -- elegant and classy without being too overstated -- for the first and second levels of the home. Schulz encouraged students to use existing decorations and to think in terms of sustainably because she wanted to use them annually. She gave them carte blanche to move art and furniture.

The only overt suggestion: purple.

"They asked me about our family traditions, such as our family tree that has personal ornaments," Schulz said.

The faculty enlisted the help of 2010 apparel, textiles and interior design alumna Kristen Henricksen who works for American Christmas, the firm that decorates major retail and corporate facilities such as Radio City Music Hall and Macys in New York. "We Skyped Kristen and she provided invaluable inspiration for the students," Dudek said.

Each team then presented its ideas to Schulz, Marla Day and president's office staff. Day is curator of the College of Human Ecology's Historic Costume and Textile Museum, part of the department of apparel, textiles and interior design. She became instrumental in procuring the items for the decoration project -- from flea markets to wholesalers -- and helping student execute their designs.

The clients selected "Holiday Past & Present" by Andrea Pace, senior from Fort Riley; Emily Galliart, junior from Hutchinson; Krystal Gantz, junior from Kingman; and Elyse Johnson, senior from Crystal Lake, Ill. Some of the best ideas from the other teams were merged to create one all-inclusive solution, Dudek said.

The winning design incorporated a record player with vintage vinyl Christmas records -- although the record player has a USB connection -- and an old fashioned sled, a vintage kid's pedal car and other old-school holiday touches.

The students had to stick to the $4,000 budget from private funds from the president's office and to prepare and install the decorations in time for the Dec. 4 homes tour fundraiser for McCain Auditorium.

"The students did an outstanding job of developing holiday decorations. I continue to be amazed at all the talents of our faculty and staff. We would like to thank the interior design faculty and students for all their efforts," said K-State President Kirk Schulz. Nora Downie, the president's house director, and K-State facilities also helped with the installation.

"Our students and faculty outdid themselves and put lots of heart and soul into this project. Having this team effort makes it exciting as it truly is K-State's home," Noel Schulz said. "It will be exciting each year around the holidays to continue to enjoy their designs."

The home tour was a success, and now others are getting to enjoy the students' work.

"On average we have two events a week at the president's home during the school year," Noel Schulz said. "We'll host several receptions, dinners and other events over the next several weeks."

Anderson said the project was a terrific learning opportunity for the students.

"Our students rarely have the opportunity to be involved in this kind of project -- from concept through the installation process -- in their class work," she said. "In addition, they were able to serve the university -- especially McCain Auditorium because the home tour benefits programs there -- and the president's family while they learned important lessons for their professional life."