Interior Design Students Collaborate with Opalka Gallery on Design of Upcoming Exhibition

When “From Concept to Console: Art and Aesthetics in Video Game Design” opens this coming spring in the Opalka Gallery, the exhibition will feel familiar to some of the students in Sage’s Interior Design program. That’s because last semester Assistant Professor Janice Medina’s Contract II class worked on an exhibition design project for Opalka Gallery Director, Elizabeth Greenberg. The collaboration marks the first time that interior design students will witness aspects of their design work used by the Opalka Gallery while they are undergraduates at Sage.

The project was completed during the students’ junior level Contract II course. In this advanced design studio, students explore the process of space planning and design as it relates to complex interior environments. The Spring 2014 semester was especially exciting as students worked on two projects for actual clients. Presentations to the clients provided students with the opportunity to gain valuable client feedback. For the Opalka Gallery project, students benefitted from the close proximity to their client. They were able to have several meetings with Greenberg as the project progressed and visited the gallery on multiple occasions.


Students worked as a group of four and were responsible for making their own decisions regarding the division of work assignments and the deliverables produced for the client. As student Lacy O’Brien ‘15 points out, “This was the first project where our whole class got to work together as a team; it was great to see how our individual skill sets and knowledge gained over our time here could be brought together in a unified and cohesive design for the gallery.”


By the spring semester of their junior year, interior design students have proficiency in a wide variety of software programs and applications. Many current design technologies were utilized for this project. In addition to conceptual development, students needed to figure out how to accurately model the gallery space. To begin, students site measured the entire Opalka Gallery and then drafted scaled floor plans and elevations in AutoCAD. Information from AutoCAD drawings was used with the laser cutter to create walls for the physical model. The model was constructed from a variety of paperboard products. Additionally, the students created realistic perspective views using SketchUp, Photoshop, and various lighting plug-ins. The final model and renderings helped the client to visualize the project.


The students also made use of the laser cutter when creating mock-ups for framing options. Students designed three options for framing and Greenberg, as client, selected her preferred method; a system utilizing two sheets of plexiglas with artwork sandwiched between them and held in place with anodized aluminum standoffs.

Work on this project is ongoing, with class member Jessica Dorsett ’15 spending her work study hours in the Opalka Gallery this semester. Jessica is further developing a series of plexiglass “pixels” – hanging boxes to be suspended in the gallery space for the duration of the exhibition. To figure out the best method for constructing these boxes, Jessica is researching adhesive products and testing different methods of cutting the plexiglass.


This type of inter-disciplinary project is essential as our design students move into a world where they will be required to design for a variety of clients, such as healthcare providers, educators, retailers, and more, while working alongside architects, lighting specialists, engineers, and other professionals. As student Lacy O’Brien states, “We were really proud to be able to provide solutions for real-life design problems, especially specific to our school. We felt like we were giving back”.