Arts & Humanities

Utah State University's Interior Design Program is Cookin'

There is an old political adage that says if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Good advice for a politician, but a number of Utah State University students are just fine taking the heat in the kitchen.

That is, taking the heat in national kitchen design competitions, especially Katie Fotheringham who learned in January 2008 that she had taken the top prize in the Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliance, Inc. Student Kitchen Design 2007 Competition.
“Since the inaugural competition in 1993, our Kitchen Design Contest has become the highest-regarded award in the industry,” said Paul Leuthe, corporate marketing manager of Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliance. “With each contest we gain insight into kitchen design trends and learn how designers incorporate our appliances into their projects.”
The fact that Fotheringham won the student competition is not surprising when you see her design. What is surprising is the speed in which she completed it. Fotheringham, a junior in Utah State’s Interior Design Program, received the assignment from her professor, Darrin Brooks, during her junior design studio.
“We were in class on a Monday when professor Brooks gave us the assignment,” Fotheringham said. “The designs were due Friday — that Friday.”
“I basically cut sleep from my life,” she said. “I was on campus from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. I spent a lot of time in the design studio.”
Fortheringham’s sleep-depravation paid off with the competition win. She was awarded $2,500 and received a trip to an exclusive resort in Arizona. Utah State University was rewarded as well for her winning effort. The Interior Design program will receive $10,000 from Sub-Zero - Wolf. 
While others might be surprised that a student could pull off a win in a national competition in only four days, Fotheringham’s professor said he is not surprised.
“That strength and the diversity that our students have in their education make this possible,” Brooks said. “All our students have a strong foundation and skills and learn early on about attention to detail. Work by Utah State students garners a lot of attention.”
Providing practical experience comes from having a diverse faculty, Brooks said. Many come to the program with solid experience in the business world. The students also gain a strong background in architecture. USU’s program is also extremely graphic, using the most up-to-date graphic programs.
“Our students are able to design, market and present their ideas in a strong fashion,” Brooks said.
Looking at Fotheringham’s design confirms that. The sleek, modern design is as breathtaking as was the budget for creating the space. There were a number of rules and requirements for the Sub-Zero - Wolf competition, but the budget to produce the award-winning kitchen was an eye-popping $200,000.
There were other rules and guidelines, like using National Kitchen Bath Association standards. Fotheringham had to know the standard height of countertops and many other industry and code standards. Of course, the use of Sub-Zero and Wolf products was a given.
The result is a dream kitchen that anyone — young or old — would like to have.
An emphasis by Fotheringham in her design was to combine the many elements with a nod to sustainability. All her product choices and finishes are eco-friendly, from concrete counter tops stained with soycrete, to the bamboo cabinets and the energy efficient appliances. The brick walls showcase the use of an existing material.
Fotheringham is modest about her win, but firm in her career choice.
“Design something you love, something you are passionate about,” she said. “You can then sell it to others.”
Fotheringham was involved in interior design as a high school student at Taylorsville High School. She also participated in concurrent enrollment courses offered through Weber State. It was after a tour to Utah State and its Interior Design program that she made the decision to study at USU.
“That tour made my decision easy,” she said. “The USU students worked at a completely different level than the other schools and programs I’d visited.”
Fotheringham credits the USU program and her professors with her success.
“The classes have definitely prepared me,” she said. “The professors do push us, but they truly prepare us for ‘real-life’ experience.”
Fotheringham hopes to work at a large commercial design firm once she graduates. She said she likes commercial designs, so bring on more kitchens. Fotheringham can stand the heat.
Megan Ridge
2007 GE Monogram - Dream Kitchen Design Contest
Best Student Concept
1st Place ($5,000 scholarship)
Audrey Cummings
2007 GE Monogram - Dream Kitchen Design Contest
Best Student Concept
3rd Place ($1,000 scholarship)
Students in Utah State’s Interior Design program excel in many competitions. Students have received international honors two years in a row at the Tasmeen Doha, winning week-long trips to Qatar. A complete listing of design competition winners is found on the Interior Design Web site.
Related links:
Contact: Katie Fotheringham,
Contact: Darrin Brooks (435) 797-1559,
Writer: Patrick Williams (435) 797-1354,
Katie Fotheringham's winning kitchen design

Katie Fotheringham's impressive kitchen design took the top prize in the student category of the 2007 Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliance, Inc. Kitchen Design Competition.

USU interior design student Katie Fotheringham

Katie Fotheringham was a junior in USU's Interior Design Program when she won the national competition.


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