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Senior Melanie Daniels Wins ASID New York Upstate-Canada East Chapter 2017 Student Design Competition

During her junior year, Melanie Daniels designed Atelier Brewery, a fictitious restaurant located in Buffalo, New York. Proud of her work, Melanie decided to submit her design to the American Society of Interior Designers: New York Upstate/Canada East Chapter‘s 2017 Student Design Competition. This week she received notice from Janice Medina, the contest’s chairperson, that her design wowed the judges and she was named the first place winner.

Melanie’s design was submitted into the Junior/Senior Level Design Category. Submissions were required to have been created for a college studio course after January 1, 2016. She was able to submit three 11” x 17” presentation boards that showed her design’s plans, elevations, material selections, rendered perspectives, photographs or other media which complement the outline provided in the project statement. She was also required to provide a brief description of her submission outlining the design intent, objectives, program requirements, design challenges and solutions provided. The contest was open to all students who are ASID members in good standing and currently enrolled in an interior design university or college program within the NYU/CE chapter region.

Atelier Brewery was designed to fit  for one of the vacated spaces adjacent to what used to be the central hallway of Buffalo’s renowned Central Terminal. Melanie began her design process by analyzing the site from both an environmental and social standpoint. “In this case, the social and cultural environment of Buffalo became the factor that drove my concept and design,” she said. “I spent many hours researching other restaurants and breweries and reading articles about customer experience and employee usability.” After her extensive research process, Melanie created bubble/blocking diagrams done in plan, sketches from a human perspective and then created a final floor and furniture plan. 

The result is a beautiful brewery that serves as a social hub for the art appreciators of Western New York and also celebrates the industrial glory of Buffalo’s past and its modern revitalization today. As such, it was only appropriate to name the brewery ‘Atelier.’ “The name Atelier refers to an artisan’s workshop or studio, a place that produces an art that captivates all five senses,” said Daniels. “Atelier provides innovative art and beer, as well as a variety of the classics, focusing on the old and the new.”

Three images from Melanie’s first place design of Atelier Brewery.

Initially, Atelier Brewery was created as part of Melanie’s Interior Design Studio 4 class. The class, which emphasizes cultural and social influences on and of design and the implications of practice in a global marketplace, gives students the opportunity to research and adhere to international design codes and the metric system to design a site that is practical and visually appealing. Students are encouraged to incorporate sustainable design methods and technology into their work while maintaining graphic standards, business forms, and conventional office procedures. The course is taught by Instructor Paul Brinkworth, who has been with Villa’s Interior Design program since 2010.

Interior Design Professor Sandra Reicis, who has taught Melanie in several classes, believes her success is a combination of her innate talent as a designer and her personality. “Melanie joins a growing list of award-winning interior design students at Villa, and will be a wonderful role model and mentor for her colleagues in the program,” she said. “Not only is she an incredibly talented artist and designer, she also embraces Villa’s core values, particularly compassion and respect for human dignity.  I believe that has a profound impact on the strength of her design work.” Reicis has taught in the College’s Interior Design program since 2002. 

According to Melanie, her Villa education has played a major role in her development as a designed. “Being a student at Villa has helped me become a kind of artist I never knew I could become,” she said. “The professors and studio classes have given me the space and structure I needed to take my creativity and make it into something tangible, usable and something I’m proud of. I owe so much to Villa.”

In addition to excelling in her major course of study, Melanie is an Honors student, was named the 2016 Interior Design Distinguished Student of the Year by a jury of 20 WNY interior design professionals and faculty, was one of three students to represent the College at NY 11+ Exhibit in New York City and participated in Villa’s 2017 study abroad program to Italy. She is the seventh Villa student to win an ASID NYU/CE award.

For more information on Villa’s Interior Design program, visit