Talented CSULB Student Wins Renowned Interior Design Competition


Images courtesy of Heemyung Yang.

asid4The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) 2015 student design competition challenged design students to create a space within an airport that offers business travelers a “private, comfortable and secure place to work, connect and recharge while en route to their destinations.”

86 students from 24 different schools submitted their work for "Touchdown," the theme of this year's contest, to meet the changing needs of a global society in continuous transit. But only Heemyung Yang, a student at California State University, Long Beach, currently working on obtaining a BFA in Interior Design, was selected as the winner.

“San Francisco has been a dreamer’s city; 49ers came to San Francisco looking for fortunes, Chinese immigrants settled in San Francisco with dreams for better lives,” said Yang, who immigrated to the United States from the Republic of Korea in 2000. “Based on the city’s historical background, the concept of my design is the ‘dream catcher’ – a place for people who work to catch their dreams.”

“The concept ‘dream catcher’ itself was intriguing, and the manifestation of it was lovely,” said Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, FASID, CID, LEED fellow, ASID past national chair, and one of the award judges, in a statement. “The organic forms surround the traveler with warmth and calmness. The floor plan, lighting plan and furnishing selections were well designed, functional and efficient, yet comfy and program compliant.”

Entries were required to have social, retail and dining spaces, work and communication stations and conference areas. Touchdown spaces, according to ASID, are growing in popularity as workers become increasingly mobile.

Yang told the Post that while she was researching the “business traveler,” the first image that came to mind was someone “wearing a black suit, briefcase, formal shoes, and walking fast.”

“My understanding of them was of someone who is uptight, burdened and in hurry,” she explained. “I thought time was the most important factor for them so I wanted to design the space that will help business travelers to stay focused in a short period of time without losing their working pace.”

The more she researched the topic, she mused that seeing a picture of a woman wearing a leather jacket, carrying a backpack and sporting a ponytail inspired her realization that there are many types of business travelers, and expanded her design to accommodate the fashion designer, photographer, athlete, musician and writer, among others, instead of only the straitlaced businessman.

“After I broke out of this stereotype, the purpose of the space also changed from ‘making people work’ to ‘making people dream on their goals.’”

She added that she chose San Francisco as the imagined home of her design because of its reputation as a “dreamer’s city.”


Eduardo Perez, Yang’s professor for Design 341B Junior Interior Design Studio in which she developed and designed the winning project, described her work as a form of communication.

“Heemyung is very methodical and poetic in her quest to creatively problem solve a design project," he said. "English is her second language and she speaks very well but at times has had challenges verbally explaining her ideation and thus has learned to communicate via her collective display of drawings, physical and digital models, material explorations, etc.”

Perez, who also taught Yang in Design 120B Fundamentals of Design, said that Yang set out to analyze San Francisco’s history in terms of the “last great frontier, “the golden gate,” “the immigrant port” and “the city where dreams become realities.”

He added that the process of working with Yang, along with each of his students, “is revolutionary."

"It is an awakening of the senses that allows the student to be constantly challenged by the professor (me in this case) to create a spatial experience that will enrich the sense of human beings when they experience the design," Perez said. "The process was wonderful and a pleasure working with such a dedicated student such as Heemyung Yang.”


Yang said her goals have driven her to pursue a design profession.

“I believe that living space and living environment can change one’s life," she said. "I want to become a person who helps to improve the lives of others and I also want to become a person who can give someone inspiration. These goals and dreams drive me to pursue this profession.”

As Touchdown’s winner, Yang will receive a $2,000 cash prize and a trip to Boston, where she will be honored at the annual ASID Awards Gala on July 18.

To view the entirety of Yang’s project, click here. For more information about ASID, click here.

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