ID Connections

Professor’s essay examines the future of interior design education

Published by Julia Salerno, June 29, 2011.

Professor of Interior Design at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Dorothy Stern, was recently awarded a national distinction by the Society for the Study of Architecture (SSAC) for an essay she wrote while completing her Masters of Architecture degree at McGill University last year.

In her essay, With a Past View from Winnipeg: Thoughts on the Evolution of Canadian Interior Design Education, Stern hypothesizes some possible implications on the future of interior design education based upon a study of the influence of second-wave feminism, prairie socialism, changing architectural/ design theory and practice, the effect of professionalization and self-regulation, and changing gender distinctions upon the development of the interior design profession. Her essay was awarded the 2011 Martin Eli Wiel Prize, which is awarded annually to a student who submits an essay on the role played by the built environment in Canadian society.

As winner of the Prize, Professor Stern received $250, a certificate, and the opportunity to present her essay at the National SSAC Conference in Quebec, which was held in late May. Her winning essay will be published in the SSAC Journal in September.

Stern's essay is more than 30 pages long, but concludes with the controversial argument that as a result of the multi-disciplinary convergence of design as a whole and the maturation of the profession of interior design, it may no longer be necessary for interior design to completely differentiate itself to be validated. Instead, she argues, it is time for this profession to be recognized as an ‘architecture' which is differentiated on the basis of its smaller-scaled concerns with regard to human factors, in combination with a more detailed way of knowing and analyzing. Professor Stern welcomes dialogue on her essay and hopes that it will pique the interest of other interior design professionals interested in the advancement of the profession.

To learn more about the Martin Eli Wiel Prize, or to read the SSAC Journal, visit

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