Students Design Downtown Office Suite

Published on Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Interior design students behind waterfall photoWhen Boston real estate investor Bagus Tjahjono needed a fresh eye to design his new suite in the long-in-the-tooth Denholm Building on Main Street in Worcester, Mass., he took on 12 eyes (or six students) from the Interior Design Program at Becker College.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” said Tjahjono, president of BT Enterprises Holdings, LLC, who called the students’ work hip, but conservative. “They got it right,” he said. (See more pictures on flickr.)

Tjahjono was so happy with his new suite—a wide-open reception area with a free-standing glass waterfall fountain, hardwood floors, walls painted a muted tropical palate and sporting unconventional artwork, wood-framed glass doors, office and meeting space and a kitchen/break room complete with appliances and an air hockey table—that he offered the troupe the opportunity to redesign his latest acquisition, the Park Plaza apartment building at 507 Main Street. The plumb project was a tempting opportunity, but one the students ultimately turned down to focus on their senior year studies.

The fledgling designers, Ashley Audette, Jennifer Farrell, Jacqueline Gallant, Kate Grant, project manager Laura Macera and Caitlin Visscher, worked on the project from January through April. All were present, among family, Becker College faculty, other guests and well-wishers, at an open house thrown by Tjahjono at the Denholm suite last month.

The group unanimously pronounced the experience a positive one. “It was so good to see your ideas come to life outside of the classroom,” said Gallant.

Macera said that swapping ideas in class prepared her for working in the group. “It was nice to have six heads,” she said.

Grant, a New York native, took an apartment in Worcester in order to stay on this summer and work on the Park Plaza project.

The project afforded each student her own insight into her future. Audette says will seek a permanent position with the Boston design firm where she has worked during past summers. Visscher said she plans to attend graduate school and go into teaching interior design. Farrell and Gallant are savoring the taste to which Tjahjono has treated them, and plan to continue in commercial design.