Students Join Professionals at National Convention

Jun. 29, 2017

Four undergraduate students in the School of Interior Architecture recently connected with industry professionals at NeoCon in Chicago, thanks to generous support provided by Crossville, Inc.

As part of a collaborative studio partnership between Crossville, Inc., the College of Architecture and Design and its School of Interior Architecture, Crossville, Inc. presented travel awards to four fourth-year students, Polly Ann Blackwell, Mary Morgan Smith, Susan Stewart and Andrianna Thompson, to fund their participation in the 49th annual NeoCon, a huge professional convention that showcases cutting-edge trends and ideas in the commercial design industry.

The three-day event convenes more than 50,000 design professionals from across the world who shape the built environment in a variety of markets, including healthcare, hospitality, retail, education and government. As attendees, Blackwell, Smith, Stewart and Thompson were given an inside look at exciting prototypes, innovations and products. The students also connected with thought leaders in the industry and engaged in invaluable networking opportunities.

“We are so appreciative of Crossville and the opportunity they gave us at NeoCon,” Smith said. “Allowing us to be present and experience the newest trends gave us exposure to a new side of design outside of the classroom.”

In an effort to enrich design education and develop future leaders in the professions of interior design and architecture, Crossville, Inc., a leading tile manufacturer, sponsors design studios within the college, culminating with the conferral of travel awards for attending NeoCon to students who demonstrate exemplary design ability. The inaugural Crossville studio in spring 2017, led by Assistant Professor Liz Teston and Adjunct Assistant Professor Rana Abudayyeh, challenged interior architecture students to design user-driven health facilities for Knoxville youth. Travel award recipients were carefully selected by college faculty and representatives of Crossville, Inc. during final reviews in April.

“Crossville’s generosity in providing my way to NeoCon has genuinely shaped me as a young designer,” Blackwell said. “It was incredibly inspiring and encouraging to be around hundreds of people who are unapologetically like-minded in their love for interior space. After being immersed in such a place as NeoCon, I’ve never been prouder and more excited for my future in the design world, and I have Crossville, Inc. to thank for that.”

Four students from the School of Interior Architecture are joined by representatives from Crossville, Inc., and Dean Scott Poole at NeoCon. The students’ participation in NeoCon was funded by Crossville, Inc., through a unique studio collaboration.

Smith, too, says she is grateful for Crossville’s investment in her education. “I am very thankful for the time they invested in me in order to help me grow as a design student. Everything they have done for us has truly been amazing, and I cannot thank them enough,” she said.

Crossville, Inc., located in Crossville, Tennessee, is the premier American manufacturer of sustainable tile solutions. A family-owned, privately held corporation, Crossville, Inc. is committed to pioneering products and practices that change the way the world views tile.