College of DuPage Graduate Wins Prestigious Statewide Interior Design Award

By: Jordyn Holliday

Emily Bruere

College of DuPage Interior Design program graduate Emily Bruere of Wheaton recently won the 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 recent 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.”

View Bruere's design here.

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 graduated from COD in May 2019, recently accepted a position 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.”

Learn more about the Interior Design program at College of DuPage.