February 23, 2022 Two Educators in the School of Interior Architecture Receive National Education, Diversity Awards

Educators in the School of Interior Architecture have been recognized with a national teaching award and a national diversity award. Rana Abudayyeh, assistant professor, has been named the recipient of the 2022 Teaching Excellence Award by the Interior Design Educators Council, and Milagros Zingoni Phielipp, associate professor and director, was honored with the 2022 IIDA Educator Diversity Award from the International Interior Design Association in partnership with the IDEC Foundation.

Profile Photo of Rana Abudayyeh

Abudayyeh’s award recognizes an educator’s exemplary efforts in providing exceptional student learning through the development of a unique educational experience.

Abudayyeh, who is the Robin Klehr Avia Professor of Interior Architecture, joined the college in 2015 after teaching at the University of New Mexico and working in private practice on numerous federal, public and private projects, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.  She is a licensed architect in her native country, Jordan, for which she is currently researching architecture’s response to transient needs in refugee camps in the Middle East.  Other ongoing research includes developing “smart” houseplants to act as health monitors for people in interior spaces.

“I am honored to be named the recipient of this prestigious award,” Abudayyeh said. “I sincerely believe that it is a testament to our brilliant students here at the college and a reflection of the university’s support of faculty and students that enables us to pursue critical inquiries and innovative design solutions.”

Using her belief in the critical impact of architecture socially and experientially through a commitment to innovative design, Abudayyeh challenges her students to investigate and use computational design, digital fabrication and novel material logics.

In naming Abudayyeh, the IDEC jury stated, “The student work…demonstrates an outstanding understanding ‎of software, geometry, spatial relationships, graphic communication and material ‎possibility.”‎

“Assistant Professor Abudayyeh’s approach to teaching positions the power and value of interiors at the intersection of human rights, social justice and technology,” said Milagros Zingoni Phielipp, director of the School of Interior Architecture. “She integrates her research into her studios, proposing novel, broadly unexplored issues of humanity to better the lives of others by addressing issues of wellbeing, health and identity through technological tools. She effectively leverages her interdisciplinary background where multiple design disciplines meet to address some of the grand challenges of our time.”

IDEC advances interior design education, scholarship and service and is recognized as the leading organization and authority on interior design education, according to the IDEC website.’

Headshot of Milagros Zinging

Zingoni’s IIDA Educator Diversity Award recognizes and celebrates an educator who is contributing to the advancement of racial/ethnic diversity in the interior design industry. It includes a $5,000 award from the IIDA Foundation.

Zingoni joined the School of Interior Architecture as director in January 2021 and brought 16 years of experience as an award-winning teacher and researcher as well as architect, community collaborator, leader and mentor.

Through a belief that design should encourage people to act responsibly for the public good, Zingoni actively partners with community organizations to enhance students’ learning experiences through civic engagement. In her role as director, she strengthens the relationship between the school and the community in creative and meaningful ways, including participatory design/build projects with underserved communities, collaborative studio projects with schools in Romania and Argentina and closer to home with the UT McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture.

“Central to the School of Interior Architecture’s educational philosophy is the fundamental principle that faculty and students must teach, learn and experiment to underpin similar diverse approaches to shared core design values, including cross-disciplinary collaboration, diverse perspectives, fabrication and community engagement, while positively impacting the community around them,” said Zingoni. “The education of a designer should train us to be practitioners who employ personal reflective assessment in all of our instructional efforts to help us achieve growth and excellence in a profession that appears highly subjective to many.”

Zingoni’s vision is to contribute to strengthening the guiding paradigm shift in interior architecture toward a discipline that addresses “the living body in a space.” She refers to this understanding as interiority, a personal process that reflects an individual’s unique awareness and consciousness of the world. In this regard, interiority is manifested across multiple scales and multiple context as an ecological landscape: Inside the room, inside the community, inside the neighborhood and inside the city.

“Increasing diversity and developing empathic responses are at the forefront of the school and profession’s initiatives,” she said.

A registered architect in her home country of Argentina, Zingoni practiced before moving to the U.S. and worked with award-winning Claudio Vekstein. She earned a master of Urban and Environmental Planning from ASU; an architecture degree (a six-year degree equivalent to a BArch and MArch) from Universidad de Flores, Rio Negro, Argentina; and a bachelor of Habitat Design from Escuela de Diseño en el Habitat, Neuquén, Argentina. She is a member of the American Society of Interior Design, International Interior Design Association, Interior Design Educators Council and American Institute of Architects. Among her many awards is the 2019 IDEC Teaching Excellence Award and the 2019 AZ AIA Educator of the year.

“Milagros is an inspiring educator who instills civic engagement, ethics and culture as core values for all her design curriculum,” said IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA. “We are ecstatic to recognize this educator’s accomplishments and celebrate how she is moving the needle and creating the next generation of designers.”

Fourth-year student in the School of Interior Architecture, Erin Gaenserer, said, “The class took us back to basics that we did not know we needed, how to have empathy and compassion for people and circumstances that differed from our own. At first, it was truly understanding empathy and the different ways one could practice it…. It completely changed the way I designed.”

Both Abudayyeh and Zingoni will be honored with their awards at a private, virtual celebration during the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) Annual Conference in February.

IIDA is the commercial interior design association with global reach. The organization supports design professionals, industry affiliates, educators, students and firms and their clients through its network of 15,000+ members across 58 countries. The organization advocates for advancements in education, design excellence, legislation, leadership, accreditation and community outreach to increase the value and understanding of interior design as a profession that enhances business value and positively impacts the health and well-being of people’s lives.