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IFDA's Educational Foundation Announces Winners of 2018 Grants for Design-Related Projects

Furniture World News Desk on 8/28/2018

Pictured above from left to right: Ethan Lu, Andrea E. Ledezma, Luis Mejia, and Garette Johnson.
Pictured above from left to right: Ethan Lu, Andrea E. Ledezma, Luis Mejia, and Garette Johnson.

The International Furnishings and Design Association recently announced that two educators, a Ph.D candidate and a trend analyst/visual designer have won 2018's Educational Foundation grants from the IFDA, which, for much of its 71-year history, has annually funded many of the needs of high-achieving design-industry professionals. "Our foundation takes pride in helping design professionals and educators achieve goals that benefit not only their own clients and students but also speak to the larger design community as a whole," says EF Director of Scholarships and Grants Karen Dzendolet. Here are 2018's Educational Foundation grant awardees:

  • Ethan Lu, a faculty member at Manhattan's New York School of Interior Design since 2010, was selected to accept the $1,000 Elizabeth Brown Grant to Interior Design Programs, which is structured to help an accredited interior design program purchase essential supplementary materials and resources. Receiving this grant will enable the school to continue introducing new virtual-reality technology into its curriculum. Prof. Lu accepted the grant with the promise that the award "will help boost interest in this new technology and introduce our students to current design hardware and software being used in the design industry."

  • Andrea E. Ledezma, an associate professor at Wake Technical Community College, Raleigh, N.C., and director of education for the Alliance of Interior Designers, has won the $1,500 Tony Torrice Professional Development Grant, which is open to furnishings and design professionals seeking to expand their skills through advanced study. Prof. Ledezma is pursuing a master's degree in business administration with a marketing focus. "I am furthering my education," she says, "in order to help bring to my students the knowledge and skills necessary to create, own and market their own businesses."

  • Luis Mejia, a Colombia-born industrial designer with a master's degree in product design and 15 years' teaching experience, has won the $2,000 Irma Dobkin Universal Design Grant. It's awarded annually to an IFDA member or non-member who champions universal design in education, marketing, product development or project design. Now engaged in Ph.D studies in design, housing and merchandising at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., Prof. Mejia believes that "with the resources of this grant, we are aiming to acquire a Virtual Reality Eye tracking device, which can aid in the understanding of an individual's perceptions and reactions in virtual-reality environments."

  • Garette Johnson, a New York City-based trend analyst, forecaster and visual designer, has won the $3,000 Valerie Moran Memorial Grant, which honors the memory of a revered designer, innovator, merchandiser and business leader. The grant is awarded each year to an IFDA professional with a record of outstanding innovation in design or merchandising who seeks expanded knowledge through travel, trade-show visits or professional-development studies. Johnson plans "to continue learning strategic-foresight methodologies by taking a workshop with the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, which will further my ability to contribute to the organizational success of clients and affiliates."

Almost from its inception, in 1947, IFDA has recognized education as a key to career development in the various furnishings and design professions. Reviewing this year's grant submissions, Educational Foundation Chairman Caroline Baer Rogow says, "I am truly touched by designers' growing interest in making our world space more accessible and friendly. It's also uplifting to see design pros and students alike engaged in sustainable projects, designing with our environment in mind."

Concludes Luis Mejia, a career educator as well as a 2018 grant winner, "We strongly believe that the better we prepare our students to be able to design solutions to real problems, the better we can improve our society." For answers to specific questions about any EF grant, present or future, contact Director of Scholarships & Grants Karen Dzendolet directly, at karen@kdzdesigns.com

More about the IFDA: The International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) welcomes members from every facet of the furnishings and design industry. Members are executives and companies professionally engaged in the design, production, distribution, promotion, communication or education in the furnishings and design and/or related industries. For more information, visit www.ifda.com.

IFDA Educational Foundation is the Association’s non-profit, tax exempt, 501c (3) organization, raising and distributing funds to foster educational activities, as well as, related charitable endeavors to enhance the furnishings and design industries. For more information, visit www.ifdaef.org.