HPU Design, Visual Merchandising Students Gain Experience Via Redesign Project

Oct 28th, 2022

HPU Design, Visual Merchandising Students Gain Experience Via Redesign Project

Culp awards top selections of students’ use of its products for room redesign contest.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 28, 2022 – High Point University interior design students gained experience and helped enhance the theme for Culp Inc.’s 50th anniversary event in the fabric manufacturer’s Congdon Yards showroom on Friday, Oct. 21.

Culp President and CEO Iv Culp welcomed community members and announced two winning teams of HPU interior design students who recently participated in a community partnership to use Culp products in a redesign of two guest rooms at the J.H. Adams Inn of High Point. This unique partnership creates valuable experiential learning opportunities for HPU interior design students and connections with several local businesses including J.H. Adams Inn, Culp and other vendors. The recurring event will provide first-hand, real-world experience and showcase the talent of design students through redesigning guest rooms, which are often filled with HPU families visiting the city.

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Hannah Robertson, pictured left, and Gabrielle Lozon, center, with Dr. Jane Nichols and the winning design prototype they created for the J.H. Adams Inn using Culp products.

Culp recognized the designs of Gabrielle Lozon and Hannah Robertson, a team of junior interior design majors from Dr. Jane Nichols’ class, and of Anna Hankins, Jade Harloff and Lizzy Brown, a team of junior interior design majors from a class taught by Gary Inman, HPU’s Designer in Residence and assistant professor of the practice of interior design.

Judges were Christi Spangle, co-founder and partner in Barbour Spangle Design, and Sergio Barrios, senior vice president of merchandising and product development of Kuka Home North American. The judges evaluated the students’ designs for design aesthetics and execution, fabric application, performance and sustainability, innovation and consumer application. Students were able to choose from Culp’s residential fabrics, hospitality fabrics, window treatments and mattress covers for the design competition.

“Students learned the value of researching what their client does, understanding what the client brings to the community at-large and translating that mission through their own aesthetic vision,” said Nichols, chair of the David R. Hayworth School of Arts and Design’s Interior Design, and associate professor of home furnishings and interior design.      “Additionally, they competed against other designers – providing a reality-based edge to their learning experience.”

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Anna Hankins, left, and Jade Harloff with the winning design prototype they created for the J.H. Inn using Culp products.

HPU junior Mia Roettger said she found the JH Adams Inn project most interesting because it provided students with real-life experience.

“It was our first time actually sitting down with a client and getting feedback directly,” said Roettger. “I thought it was interesting and encapsulating to get hands-on, direct experience with the people who we’re designing for.”

“One of my favorite parts was when we visited the fabric companies and furniture manufacturers we actually used in the space,” said Samantha Purdon, an HPU junior. “To touch the fabrics, see them in person and put them in our design to liven the space was fun. Like Mia said, talking with clients in person, getting their feedback and making something that they love is honestly the best part.”

Interior design students were tasked with representing the company’s five decades of being in the industry, said Katy Brandt, whose students curated an Instagram wall in HPU’s Planes and Patterns studio to demonstrate Culp’s history.

“They needed to come up with something that was sophisticated, that told the story and represented the brand at the event,” said Brandt. “They built them all by hand.”

Designs from past decades also were depicted in suspended lighting fixtures, designed by the HPU visual merchandising students of Cathy Nowicki, assistant professor of home furnishings and interior design.

Art is the genesis of Culp’s business, said Teresa Huffman, Culp’s SVP, chief human resources officer.

“Sometimes students don’t know the process of how the product comes to life,” said Huffman. “It was wonderful to have this young talent come in. Their creativity and the use of our product is very exciting.”