LSU Interior Design Student Heads to Grand Rapids as a Finalist in Steelcase’s NEXT Student Design Competition

lsu interior design student cindy tiekCindy Tiek, a senior interior design student at LSU, was named a finalist in the NEXT Student Design Competition hosted by Steelcase, a global, commercial furniture manufacturer headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Students from nationally accredited interior design or interior architecture programs were welcome to apply in the NEXT Student Design Competition. Steelcase selected one grand-prize winner, five finalists, and five honorable mentions from more than 600 entries from universities around the world.

The five finalists in the competition received an all-expenses-paid visit to Steelcase headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they spent two days in a new Steelcase University program. The program offered learning opportunities, exposure to resources, valuable time spent with Steelcase executives, and research exploration.

At Steelcase headquarters, the finalists presented their projects to a panel of judges, after which the judges convened to announce the grand-prize winner. After the presentations, Steelcase filmed interviews with each finalist—soon to be featured on YouTube—and the finalists will be featured in an article in Steelcase’s 360 Magazine.

Also while in Grand Rapids, the finalists toured various spaces within Steelcase University’s global campus; had dinner at the Frank Lloyd Wright Meyer May home (owned and recently restored by Steelcase); spent time with Steelcase research and design teams; and had the opportunity to meet some of Steelcase’s executives over lunch.

steelcase headquarters joey shimoda

Steelcase headquarters in Grand Rapids – designed by Architect Joey Shimoda

Tiek and senior interior design students in a studio taught by Associate Professor Philip Tebbutt and Instructor John Campbell worked on their entries for the NEXT Student Design Competition in fall 2013. Each design program was allowed to submit two entries to the competition.

“Professors Phillip Tebbutt and John Campbell were great. We had a lot of time to research office design, which helped us to really understand the future of the workplace. They also really pushed us to come up with a strong design concept, which is what I think eventually set us apart from the rest of the finalists,” said Tiek.

Students were required to design a new prototype office for NEXT, a think tank organization with an office space of approximately 8,000 square feet located on the third floor of a building in Austin, Texas. Students were to plan for the accommodation of 40 staff—employees with backgrounds in design-thinking, engineering, anthropology, architecture, sociology, and industrial design—while allowing for future growth and the potential expansion of five or more personnel.

The students’ designs were to express an understanding of the different, multi-generational work habits and cultural needs of the workers and to integrate and optimize the workspaces. The students could only specify Steelcase furniture but were encouraged to customize build-outs, fabrics, and paint colors. They were also directed to create a design identity for NEXT and incorporate branding into the design space.

“The interesting thing was how different each student’s concept was and how differently we interpreted the needs for NEXT’s work process,” said Tiek, who named her design concept, “Spinning a Solution.”

“The concept for NEXT started with visualizing the cyclical nature of their work as the spin cycle in a washing machine. Like the spin cycle, the project teams expend a great amount of energy ‘spinning out’ the best solution from a multitude of ideas,” said Tiek.


She continued the laundry analogy throughout her proposal. For example, Tiek organized the team areas radially, and the flooring and ceiling elements were cued by the circular form and used materials that reflect the metallic nature of the washing machine.

“At one time, hanging out the laundry was a somewhat social event that took place in spaces where family and friends would connect over their work,” said Tiek. “Since the café is a place where NEXT’s employees ‘hang out,’ its design reflects the image of white laundry hanging out to dry.”

Overall, the space Tiek designed has a clean feeling, with white, glossy finishes and a color palette inspired by the blues of water, the natural wood tones of old wash boards, and the silvery gleam of polished stainless steel.

“I feel honored to have been chosen. There was not only stiff competition among my peers at LSU, but also from across the country,” said Tiek. “After seeing the work of the other finalists, I feel that LSU definitely has one of the top interior design programs in the country.”

Visit for more information about the competition.

About Steelcase
Steelcase is a global, publicly traded company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with nearly 10,000 employees around the world. Steelcase brands offer a comprehensive portfolio of workplace products, furnishings, and services inspired by more than 100 years of insight gained by serving the world’s leading organizations. Steelcase products are globally accessible through a network of channels, including more than 650 dealers. Visit for more information.

About LSU School of Interior Design
The LSU School of Interior Design program emphasizes creative problem solving, research and analysis, and graphic skills. Student activities are supported in the design studios, which form the core of the educational experience. Liberal arts, business, communication, and technical courses are required and complement the program’s strong emphasis on design.