GCA communications intern Jacob Cullum (J) sat down with senior Interior Design major Caroline Hofmann (C) to talk with her about her experience during her time as a student at GCA, her capstone project and advice she would give to prospective interior design students. Caroline is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and knew OU was the place for her after a campus tour.   Read on for highlights, or click the link below to access the full podcast.

Above: Listen to the full interview on the Gibbs Spotlight podcast.

J: Why did you choose to study interior design?  

C: I was always a creative kid. Growing up, my mom worked in art and fashion, so that got me interested in creative fields from a really young age. So I knew I wanted to pursue something like that, that allowed me to express myself creatively. As I got older and I toured OU and I knew I wanted to be here, I realized I would have to choose something else because they don’t have a fashion degree here. But once I saw how versatile an interior design degree could be, and how easily you can bounce around from interiors to other creative fields, I knew that was the more adaptable decision. 

J: That’s really cool! Who or what inspires your work in interior design?  

C: I have definitely found myself drawing a lot of inspiration from art throughout college. I loved my art history classes and being exposed to modern and contemporary art has really brought me the most inspiration.  

J: I’ve taken some contemporary art classes as well and it is always so inspiring to see what people have done. What is your favorite part about interior design at Gibbs College?  

C: I think my favorite part is the unique courses we have to offer. Many of my favorite courses over the past 4 years have been the ones that other programs don’t offer or require. So, things like furniture design, lighting design, materials; those ones I know prepare us in ways that other programs don’t, which has been a really fun and unique experience.   

Image credit: Caroline Hofmann Portfolio

J: Do you have plans for after graduation?  

C: Yes! I accepted a job offer with my internship that I had over the summer in Dallas so I will be working there. It is a real estate developer called Street Lights Residential.  

J: What are some things from the internship that you enjoyed that made you want to work there?  

C: I really love the work culture. I think that was one of the most important parts for me about the place that I chose to work after college. I think everybody there has the same goals and ideals in mind. They all want to respect a good work-life balance and the ability to express ourselves creatively.  

Image credit: Caroline Hofmann Portfolio

J: I’m also a senior so looking for places with good work culture has been really important for me, as well.  

C: I feel like I got so lucky with that with the internship.  

J: So as you mentioned, you’re a senior, so I assume you’ve been very busy working on your capstone project. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

C: Yes! We choose an actual structure somewhere for the project so I chose one of the buildings that my internship developed. Once you do that you try to get the plans for the structure, so sometimes it can be a struggle, sometimes it’s a breeze. Thankfully it wasn’t very hard for me because I had a great connection with the people from my internship, so they were willing to help me out. And then from there, during your first semester, you develop basically all of the writing portions of it. You write out all your design concepts and ideas, and you clarify what your three programmatic focuses are, which are based on occupancy types. I knew that I wanted to do a retail space, a restaurant, which is considered hospitality, and an apartment complex. Doing those three, the first semester you develop all your ideas and you look at the demographics of the areas that your building is located in, and try to tweak and alter your designs to figure out how you can best design and shape those spaces.

This semester we’ve been working on the actual design, which is really exciting because that’s when everything starts to come together and you really get to put your ideas into action, which is so fun

Caroline Hofmann

Then, this semester we’ve been working on the actual design, which is really exciting because that’s when everything starts to come together and you really get to put your ideas into action, which is so fun.  

Image credit: Caroline Hofmann Portfolio

J: Yeah, that sounds amazing, to see something you’ve worked on become real. What has been the most rewarding and challenging parts of your capstone project so far?  

C: I think the most rewarding part so far has been when I step back seeing how much I’ve developed over the course of the semester. After the end of last semester, seeing just how much writing and work and research had gone into our project was a really rewarding part of it. In the design side, I think that comes more frequently because you really feel that satisfaction of seeing how your design comes together throughout the semester.

After the end of last semester, seeing just how much writing and work and research had gone into our project was a really rewarding part of it.

Caroline Hofmann

It’s definitely challenging though. The research is really challenging. You have to get really into the details. One thing our professor stressed to us was “when you think you’ve done enough, keep researching and keep going and keep diving in further,” and I think going into the research that far that we hadn’t done prior to that was difficult, but again like I said, super rewarding once you see how far you’ve come.  

Image credit: Caroline Hofmann Portfolio

J: That sounds like a really valuable learning experience. Last question, what pieces of advice would you give to a student thinking about studying interior design at OU?  

C: I would say if you genuinely feel passionate or interested in this program to really stick it out. I think freshman year can be such a hard time for so many people because you’re dealing with so many different changes. You’ve moved away from home, you’re meeting new friends, you’re having new experiences and I think sometimes the course load can feel a little overwhelming for freshman. I know I felt that way at times, but I think I was still passionate about it throughout the whole process so it remained fun for me.

I would say if you genuinely feel passionate or interested in this program to really stick it out.

Caroline Hofmann

I think finding friends in your major really helps, too, because at the end of my four years now I have these really great friends and bonds in my own discipline that people in other colleges or majors I think I’ve seen sometimes don’t have that unless you have that sort of group mentality that you all work together. So, I think that’s something I would say, is really stick it out because you can meet some of the greatest people and wonderful connections, and you really have such a great relationship with all the professors by the end.  

Image credit: Caroline Hofmann Portfolio

J: Is there anything else you would like to add?   

C: I don’t have much else to add other than I think it’s just been such a fun four years and the other day I was thinking “gosh, I know it might sound funny that I would want to relive all of the all-nighters and things that I’ve pulled,” but at the same time I think it’s been so fun to look over all of the projects that I’ve developed and things that I’ve worked on and the friends that I’ve made.  

Thank you again to Caroline for taking the time to share their experiences and wisdom with us. On behalf of GCA, we look forward to what is in store for Caroline in the future!

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.