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An Inspired Design

Competition Allows Student to Grow as a Designer

Sonya Fernandes grew up surrounded by art and design.

With a mother and sister who are both designers, it was no surprise when the Post Falls native decided to pursue a career in interior architecture at the University of Idaho.

“I was heavily influenced by the artistic passions of my mom and sister,” said Fernandes, a recent graduate of the Interior Architecture and Design Program in the College of Art and Architecture. “Their passions quickly became my passion.”

Although majoring in interior architecture, Fernandes wanted to explore all fields of design, including graphic design, exhibit design and furniture design. It was her interest in the latter, as well as a little nudging from Tech Shop Director David Schmidt, which encouraged her to submit an entry to the University House competition.

Sponsored by CAA and the Technical Design Studio, the competition encouraged students to design a distinctive console table for the president’s residence, known as the University House.

Completed in 2019, the house serves as the residence of President Scott Green and his wife, Gabriella. It is a private home and public gathering space for the university community and was designed by CAA alumnus Robert Zimmer ’81. 

Fernandes’ design became reality with the help of Schmidt.

“Sonya’s design was elegant, constructed of black locust wood and steel,” said Schmidt, who worked with Fernandes on the construction of the table during the summer and fall of 2020.

The black locust wood came from a felled tree on the Moscow campus. Ryan Gray of the facilities machine shop welled the leg and stretcher.

“I was impressed by her dedication to the project, her thoughtful consideration of the materials and her work ethic,” said Schmidt. “I do not doubt that Sonya has a bright future as a designer.”

Sonya Fernandes.
Sonya Fernandes
A design concept for the table Sonya designed.
A design concept for the table Sonya designed.

Other materials utilized in the construction of the home inspired her design, as well as the overall modern look of the residence itself.

“My design for the table was really meant to connect visitors entering the home to the rest of the house, to guide them further into the home,” Fernandes said.

Fernandes’s was selected as the winner from eight design entries. Her piece is now on display in the entryway of the University House.

We were all really impressed by the level of thought Sonya incorporated into her design. I know it will be enjoyed immensely for years to come. Dean Shauna Corry, College of Art and Architecture

“We received many great submissions from our students for this competition, but Sonya’s design really stood out to the judges as something spectacular,” said Shauna Corry, dean of the college. “Her design was so thoughtful and just fit seamlessly into the home. We were all really impressed by the level of thought Sonya incorporated into her design. I know it will be enjoyed immensely for years to come.”

The competition was Fernandes’ first experience with furniture design. She is grateful for the opportunity to realize her vision.

“I gained a deeper understanding about design through this competition, and I thank President and Mrs. Green for giving me the opportunity to create this piece and share a little of myself with them and the Vandal Family,” she said. “It’s experiences like this that truly make the Vandal experience unique. I’m so grateful for the opportunity something like this offered for me to grow as a designer.”

Article by Kassandra Tuten, University Communications and Marketing.

Photography by Creative Services
Provided Photos

Published May 2021.

Interior Architecture and Design

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Interior Architecture and Design