Student Stories: Emily Bruere

Emily Bruere


Major: Interior Design

Emily Bruere’s passion for interior design has paid off during her studies at College of DuPage.

She initially received the new Pathway Healthcare Design Studio Scholarship Award from Pathway to Living, a Chicago-based developer, owner and operator of senior living communities. The scholarship, available to students in COD’s Healthcare Design Studio course, was offered for the first time in fall 2018 to prepare students for work in the sector of senior living and health care design.

Bruere said her experience in the class enhanced her perspective on the intricacies of working in this sector.

“It helped me look at the industry of health care design differently,” she said. “I wasn’t fully aware of how important it is for us as designers to empower the independence of people, whether they are elderly or have disabilities. That was a really big takeaway.”

Bruere then won the prestigious RED Michelle Roberts Student Award, presented annually by the Illinois Chapter of the International Interior Design Association to honor the best student interior design project in the state.

The concept of her award-winning design, a fictional Italian restaurant named Olive + Rosemary, was derived from Bruere’s personal experiences and created for a COD class assignment.

“The design vision behind Olive + Rosemary was born through my travels to Italy,” Bruere said. “The modern Italian-inspired restaurant was designed to reflect the architecture, natural materials and sleek furniture that is true of European culture. I wanted to present consumers with the upscale side of Italian design rather than the quintessential ‘red check tablecloth’ restaurant.”

Bruere was assigned the project as part of COD Instructor Shelly Mocchi’s Contract Design Studio course. Students learn about applicable codes, zoning and flow, owner concerns, branding, and material appropriateness. Mocchi applauded Bruere on her effort and persistence in completing the project.

“Emily is really engaged in design, constantly seeking out new inspiration for both design solutions and materials,” Mocchi said. “She is driven, which I feel is a necessity in our industry, and she has a strong vision for her spaces. She also is very professional in her dealings with faculty and industry connections. In addition, she has built lasting friendships with her classmates, which I think will help them all in their future endeavors.”

Bruere described winning the award, which included a $2,000 honorarium, as providing motivation that will stay with her throughout her career.

“It was an experience I will never forget,” she said. “It was a privilege to simply enter the competition among so many talented students and their projects. I hope to have the opportunity to design restaurants in the future.”

Bruere, who earned her Associate in Applied Science degree and graduated with highest honors, now works as an interior designer at M House Development, a custom home building firm in Naperville. She hopes to continue using her work as a way to uplift others.

“Having a design concept in your head that you are passionate about and seeing it come to life is one of the most rewarding feelings. I think the goal of all designers is to help others experience this as well.”

COD’s Interior Design program prepared Bruere for her career and she is grateful for the support.

“Shelly Mocchi saw how passionate I was about this project and encouraged me to take it as far as I could, even though it meant she would spend time working with me on something beyond what was required for class,” she said. “[Program coordinator] Jane Kielb and all of the teachers at COD really go above and beyond for their students. I can’t thank them enough and I know the other students feel the same way.”

More about the Interior Design program