IFDA Educational Foundation Names Professional Grant Winners

October 19, 2022

The Educational Foundation (EF) of IFDA, the International Furnishings and Design Association, has announced the winners of five of its professional grants. Since the early years of this 75-year-old global design industry alliance, arguably the most diverse organization of its kind with membership that includes designers, media, marketers and manufacturers, the IFDA Educational Foundation has awarded grants to talented professionals as well as scholarships to high-achieving design students, internationally. This year, the funds awarded totaled $27,000.

“Congratulations to the winners, we are proud to have them in our profession,” said Helen Wagner, chairman of the board of the IFDA Educational Foundation. “Their skills and initiative in undertaking new challenges are impressive and each winner exemplified the goals of the award they were granted, whether research, universal design, professional development or the advancement of interior design programs.” Dr. Jane Nichols, director of scholarships and grants, echoed the sentiment. “Though the judges were challenged in selecting winners, each one was very deserving of the award.”

IFDA Educational Foundation grants are offered to all professionals working in the interior design or furnishings related fields, but not to undergraduate students.

The five grants and their recipients are:

IFDA EF grants

Elizabeth Brown Grant to Interior Design Programs — $2,500
Dr. Saman Jamshidi is an Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture and Design at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His areas of interest include wayfinding, healthcare design, evidence-based design, architectural technology and sustainability. He holds a PhD in Interior and Environmental Design from Texas Tech University. Dr. Jamshidi’s past work includes research on the influence of the hospital environment on (1) reducing fall risk among patients, (2) improving patient outcomes and (3) rural healthcare. He is currently examining the effect of environmental factors on human wayfinding. His research has resulted in several peer-reviewed papers published in journals such as the Journal of Patient Safety, Frontiers in Psychology, Health Environments Research and Design (HERD), and Frontiers of Architectural Research. He is NCIDQ- certified and has more than 10 years of experience in research, practice and teaching.


IFDA EF grants

Irma Dobkin Universal Design Grant— $2,000
Dr. Christine Wacta, Assistant Professor in the college of Behavioral and Social Sciences, School of Human Ecology, Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. Dr. Wacta is an African-born French architect; D.P.L.G Paris-la-Defense. She also holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Wacta brings along over 19 years of experience as an educator in design thinking and creating geo-spatial enabled and applied curriculum. Her research interests expose her to new techniques in urban approach while affording her a rather unique position to deal with challenging topics as a reflection of the complexity of our environment. Her interest in intelligent cities and resilience led her to co-founding Geospatial Design Enterprise and designing curriculum support structures to bring application and testing-based processes into design education and practice.


ifda grant

Tony Torrice Professional Development Grant — $1,500
Luke Kwan is a seasoned project manager, interior designer and educator with more than 25 years of professional experience. He is a senior project manager at IA Interior Architects Inc. and an adjunct faculty at Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (RMCAD) and San Francisco State University (SFSU). Kwan has worked on many types of interior design projects and is currently focusing on healthcare design. The awarded grant project will go towards the graduate certificate in the Planning and Design of Healthcare Environments program through Ball State University. Kwan hopes this program will help him build a holistic view of healthcare designs beyond his current perspective. He looks forward to sharing this journey with his collegiate and future interior design students.


Beth miller

Ina Mae Kaplan Historic Preservation Grant – $2,000

Beth Miller, PhD, is a Professor and the Head of the Department of Interior Design and the Master of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation at Mississippi State University. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy from Mississippi State University, a Master of Education from Mississippi University for Women and an Interior Design Bachelor of Fine Arts from Louisiana Tech University. She served as Interim Associate Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design and was a faculty member for CCSA (Cooperative Center for Study Abroad) teaching a History of Interiors and the Decorative Arts in London, England for four summers. Most recently, Dr. Miller was selected for the Attingham Trust/Royal Collection Studies 2022 (one of 30 selected worldwide). She has personally restored five historic structures dating from 1830 to 1930 and worked as a designer on more than 100 historic properties throughout Mississippi and Louisiana.


Kayne wilk

Valerie Moran Memorial Grant — $3,000 for IFDA members
Kayne Wilk of the New York Chapter, plans to learn wholesale antiquing at the Déballages in southern France. Toma Clarke Haines, founder of The Antiques Diva, came to New York to speak to the group about her young company. “I was inspired by Toma’s energy and excitement, as well as her accomplishments,” said Wilk. Her goal during this visit is three-fold: 1) Establish connections with sellers through Toma and her team. As many know, the best way to source flea market items and antiques is through established connections. 2) Catalog vendors and their specific offerings for future reference. 3) Get a full understanding of pricing, one-off and bulk purchasing, shipping and selling of these items, as well as shopping for clients during these visits. “At a time when the importance of an object’s maker, origin and materiality is top-of-mind for so many clients, antiques fill this niche in a unique way. I hope to make antique purchasing straightforward and accessible and share my newfound knowledge with current and future clients,” concluded Wilk.