Karen Baker, Morgan Davis and Dominique Wagner decorate the grand staircase at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

An Update from Jill DeMarotta, chair of Interior Design

Nov 28, 2018
Allison Lauricella


If you are unfamiliar with Brenau’s Interior Design Department, we offer classes in drafting, lighting, space planning, materials, sustainable design, computer-aided design, textiles, interior design history, building codes, residential design, restaurant/hotel design, office design and health-care design. We offer our BFA at both the Gainesville and Norcross campuses, as well as our MFA online. Did you know that our MFA was the first master’s degree that Brenau offered? We are pleased to announce that all of our 2018 graduates are actively employed in the field of interior design and/or teaching interior design.

In addition to their studies, this year our students volunteered on a Habitat for Humanity house build doing roofing and siding. They also had the tremendous opportunity to get to work alongside designers from all over the Southeast on the Christmas decorations at Callanwolde Designer Show House– a 27,000 square-foot historic Tudor Revival mansion in Atlanta. The students were tasked with the decorations for the grand staircase and stair landing. This is a central feature to the home and the setting for many movies, tv shows and countless weddings.  Students in the department worked together over a couple of planning and work sessions to style ornaments and decorations that would be appropriate to the period of the home, but with some innovations reflecting the youthful energy of college students. They created fabric-wrapped and beaded ball ornaments, paper silhouettes, origami stars/snowflakes fashioned from newspaper, packages wrapped in newsprint and glass ball drops that accentuate the iron railings of the stair. The goal with all of this was to accentuate the historical details of the home, drawing them out and celebrating them.

Beyond these exciting new opportunities, there have been many changes to the Interior Design Department in the past year. The biggest change is that a 4-year BFA degree accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation was offered for the first time in over a decade, which was a change from the 5-year degree offered in the past. The faculty also made a big transition with the retirement of Lynn Jones, who was the head of the Interior Design Department for 35 years, this past January. Michael Kleeman joined our faculty this August. He is a beloved instructor that comes to us from the Art Institute of Atlanta, where he taught for over 18 years. Margaret Serrato also joined the faculty in a part-time position. She has over 25 years of research and design experience and holds a very prestigious position as a Workplace Foresight Architect at Herman Miller specializing in creating high-performance working and learning environments.

One very exciting thing that we have on the horizon is 12 design students coming from China to join our existing students in the fall of 2019. Brenau’s interior design faculty traveled to China last May to meet and work with the incoming students. We are really excited to integrate these incredible students into our wonderful student body.

The Interior Design Department here at Brenau University continues to grow and evolve in line with market changes, and there is much to be excited about in the future of the program. I look forward to seeing where the our department can lead our future students and graduates!