Finding balance

Abstracting the tangible is the goal of students in April Allen’s residential furnishings and interiors course.

“The students start with an inspiration – an airplane propeller, a martini glass, a monster, the Eiffel Tower,” she explained. “They break that tangible inspiration down to its simplest elements and use those elements in a design for a mobile,” explained the assistant professor in the textiles, merchandising and interiors department of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

“This is one of the first projects in the course and serves as a way for students to free their minds and begin understanding the principles and fundamentals of design – lines, space, balance, rhythm, harmony, emphasis and other elements,” she said.

The students begin their project by researching the work of the late Alexander Calder, the artist most credited with developing mobiles as an art form.

“During the course of the semester, the students will progress in learning how to take these basic elements of design and incorporate them into three-dimensional ideas,” Allen said. “For their final project, they’ll design a small interior space.”

Currently about 70 students are majoring in furnishings and interiors in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, with another 60 listed as intended majors. This is a high-demand major with about 40 students admitted each year to the program. The residential furnishings and interiors course is an introductory course, but by the time students graduate they will have learned the intricacies of using furnishings, textiles, color and other elements to create spaces that enliven and enrich people’s lives.

The mobiles are currently on display in room 306 of Dawson Hall.