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Co-op in London Bridges Two Worlds for Interior Design Student

Come June 18, Wichita native (and UC student) Lauren Farquhar won’t be in Kansas anymore. She’ll leave for London for six months of work with a design consulting firm as part of the university’s “co-op” work requirement.

Date: 5/31/2004 8:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Dottie Stover
UC ingot As an interior design student, Lauren Farquhar, 20, is learning the principles and practices to help shape and improve the spaces in which we all live and work.  While she’s at, Lauren also seems to be designing the best possible education for herself within UC’s nationally number-one ranked interior design program.

A key element integrated into the program is cooperative education (co-op), which requires students to alternate their academic quarters with quarters of paid, professional work related directly to their major.  Co-op, which had its worldwide founding at UC in 1906, was a big reason that Lauren opted to attend UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.  “I was interested in interior design because I was interested in both art and the problem-solving skills involved in math and science.  Architecture and interior design seemed a good balance of those interests.  I chose UC because of its reputation and because it was the only interior design school with co-op,” she said.

As a pre-junior, Lauren’s already had two co-op work quarters, both in Atlanta, where she worked on projects for corporate clients like Coca-Cola and Chick-Fil-A.  Then, came the chance to work, learn and earn in London.  “It really came about through one of the professors, Wolf Preiser.  He knew that DEGW, the design consultancy, was looking for a co-op so he did some interviews of students and sent them his recommendations.  And I was able to show them work from my portfolio that I have on the Web,” Lauren explained.

And so now, she’ll be working and living in London until Christmastime and is looking forward to the prospect of working with one of Europe’s most prestigious design firms.  “They have offices in Europe, Asia and even the States,” said Lauren, adding, “DEGW specializes in office spaces and has a very versatile team that includes psychologists, ergonomics professionals, lighting specialists and space planners.  I’ll not only get to learn about cultural differences in the work place but a great deal about the specifics of office design.  That’s an area I’m really interested in because we spend so much time in the office.”

All the same, Lauren admits to a few jitters about working abroad.  Working in a new place with new people always means adjustment, but most of all, she says, she’s never really had to use the metric system before.  “Obviously, knowing and understanding the metric system is a big deal in an architect’s office, but I’m studying it to know it by the time I fly over.”

On weekends, Lauren hopes to travel to Scotland, Paris, Rome, Copenhagen and maybe a few other cities.  But, she plans to be home for the 2004 holidays because, after all, there’s no place like home. 

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