An ACU interior design student received not one but two national awards at the prestigious Brass Ring Awards at Oklahoma Christian University on April 3.
Melody Lessly, senior interior design major from Plano, tied for the Gold Award in the “commercial spaces over 2500 square feet” category for her design of Yoi’, a Japanese restaurant. She also won a merit award for Great Escapes, an environmentally friendly 3-D design for a travel agency. Lessly said she was surprised by how well her pieces were received.
“Seeing that my work is recognized was good, and I saw that they had more potential than I thought they did,” Lessly said. “I just submitted them to see what would happen, but to see that people appreciate it was great.”
Now in their 24th year, the Brass Ring Awards attract competition from all over the nation. This year’s competition drew 411 entries from 60 universities, said Kitty Wasemiller, ACU professor of interior design. Lessly competed against students from much larger institutions, including Texas Tech University, Brigham Young University, Florida State University and the University of North Texas.
Both of Lessly’s award-winning pieces were completed as a part of Wasemiller’s course, Interior Design III. Wasemiller said the course is designed to lead students toward finding solutions for a variety of situations. She said both of Lessly’s submissions displayed unique and creative ideas.
“She does a spectacular job with 3-D rendering,” Wasemiller said. “She researches and thinks deeply about her solutions. Her work is always top-notch and very professional.”
Jeff Price, visiting associate professor of interior design at Oklahoma Christian and coordinator of the Brass Ring Awards, said Lessly’s accomplishment carries a large degree of prestige.
“Seeing that there are more than 400 entries, it is perceived as a great award,” Price said. ” They compete against other schools from UCLA to the University of Maine; these are big schools.”
Lessly said recognition of her work demonstrates how unique the Department of Art and Design is at ACU. She said the small size of the department makes her feel like a person, rather than a number. The interior design program at ACU is one of 166 programs nationwide to be certified by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.
“It’s neat to be recognized on the same level as larger, more renowned schools,” Lessly said. “Even though we’re smaller, we can produce the same, if not better, levels.”
Lessly hopes to pursue a career in interior design at an architecture firm, either commercially or residentially. Lessly said she has always enjoyed her work, and working in interior design will fulfill long-time ambitions.
“I’ve always had a passion for it,” Lessly said. “My grandpa inspired me to enter this field. He does architecture on the side, and seeing him do that growing up inspired me to enter this field.”