Q&A with NYSID's New VP of Academic Affairs & Dean

NYSID has added a number of new graduate programs in the last few years. Can you tell us about the latest one, Healthcare Interior Design?
The MPS in Healthcare Interior Design was created to meet a recognized need in the field. I kept hearing from practitioners in large and small design firms that they had an ongoing need for interior designers trained specifically in healthcare applications. After conferring with industry experts Tama Duffy Day of Perkins & Will, and Mike Pukzsta of Cannon Design, NYSID decided to create a one-year degree program that was based on evidence-based design criteria, the business of healthcare, and critical issues such as programming, materials, and environmental systems.

Healthcare design encompasses large facilities such as hospitals, but also assisted living and rehabilitation centers.  And many people may not realize that during the recession, healthcare remained a vibrant and viable business sector. It’s an exciting and timely program. I am looking forward to its launch in the fall.
How is NYSID’s Institute for Continuing and Professional Studies (ICPS) evolving? What are some interesting new classes?
I am proud to say that our continuing education program is thriving. This spring, we will introduce a series of new seminars on Design Entrepreneurship, led by industry professional, Steve Nobel. We have had phenomenal interest in courses that focus on business practices, legal issues, marketing, and branding, and we decided to introduce a more cohesive offering. Students can take up to eight courses to round out their knowledge or move their careers to a new level.  We are now looking into how to take these courses and others into an online format within the next 18 months.

Another popular course series is, “The Insider’s Guide to…” This fall, participants will hear from a licensed general contractor who will tell them all the things he wished designers knew about his work. And, our mainstay digital drawing courses have been joined by more general art and design courses, such as quick sketching techniques, flower arranging, and staging a room for photography.

I understand the travel abroad program is expanding. Can you tell me about that and why you feel it's an important initiative?
One of NYSID’s strategic planning objectives is to become an international campus. While there are many ways to accomplish this, travel is one of the most powerful. While NYSID has long offered one trip abroad, this year, we will be offering two separate trips – one to Rome, Florence, and Pompeii; and the other to Vienna and Prague. Also for the first time, we will offer a domestic study trip: design history professor Judith Gura will take 12 students to Los Angeles to study California Modernism. That’s a trip I’d like to take myself –I’ve always wanted to visit the Eames Case Study House and the work of other California modernists.

With the recession dragging on, what is the state of the interior design practice? What do you think is the future of interior design?
I am thoroughly optimistic about the future of interior design. The nation has suffered economic stress before, but the profession of design, and the desire to create beautiful and functional surroundings, has never disappeared. Over the last century, interior design as a practice grew from being solely residential to including the design of every type of public space imaginable.  I feel confident that the sphere of practice of interior design will grow exponentially in the coming years. People today recognize how much the physical environment impacts health, mood, and productivity. The recent emphasis on evidence-based design puts trained interior designers in position to lead projects of all types.

On a lighter note, what did you do this past weekend?
Believe it or not, on Saturday, I took a NYSID continuing education course! It was “New York Neighborhoods: Designer’s Walking Tour of Williamsburg, Brooklyn,” led by NYSID instructors Chris Spinelli and Edwin Zawadzki. I have wanted to do this for years, and it was fantastic.  I was especially interested in the adaptive reuse of the Domino’s sugar factory into 2200 apartments and retail – you can still smell the sugar in the air.  There is a lot of good interior design to be done there in the next few years. After that, I went home and watched a marathon of “How I Met Your Mother”! My family loves that show.

Phyllis Greer