Fairfield University's interior design program fulfills dreams with residential and professional certification



Image: Gilles ClementFor Gilles Clement it came at a crossroads in his young life and for Carey Dougherty it became the natural evolution of childhood wonder and nurturing.

The Interior Design program at Fairfield University is many things to many people, but ultimately, it provides students with a solid foundation in history, hands-on design experience and training that enables certificate-bound students to translate abstract concepts into three-dimensional reality. Students can receive a residential and/or professional certificate. Those who receive the professional certificate will have satisfied the minimum education requirements for National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification and these people will officially be on track for a formal association with this prestigious professional organization.

Both Clement and Dougherty have residential certification and both students will receive professional certification in the near future. Taking their interior design training in very different directions, these Fairfield University students have already touched their communities in unforgettable ways, and they are just beginning their careers.

Thirty-nine-year-old Clement, a native of Paris, France and the son of world-renown artists and Westport residents Serge Clement and Marina Kamena, has been surrounded by beauty his entire life. When he completed his undergraduate degree at Fairfield University, he was already a success in the music business. But, he was looking for a new direction in his life and when he took an interior design course with program director Robert Hardy, he knew he had discovered a channel for his creativity and boundless energy. "Fairfield University has made a huge difference in the path my life has taken. The growth and success of the interior design company (Le Cirque Designs) I started with a partner only a few years ago, owes a great deal to what I have learned in this program."

Dougherty has followed her childhood instincts, "Whether it was creating houses out of milk cartons and shoe boxes for my stuffed animals when I was a child or making my first apartment feel like home - despite the fact that it was in Japan, about 7,000 miles away from home - I have always loved design."

After viewing an inspiring show on HGTV that spotlighted people who deserve design, Dougherty went into action and developed a plan for a non-profit organization (NPO) - Her Haven - that performs volunteer design services for deserving and inspiring women in the community.

For her first venture with Her Haven, Dougherty partnered with the Greater Bridgeport chapter of Soroptimist International, a national volunteer organization. Using her design skills and talents, Dougherty sought donations from local businesses from carpentry to window designs and redesigned Bridgeport resident Nancy Kingwood's basement storage space, making it into a sanctuary where she could "sit and be still." Kingwood works as director of HIV services at the Greater Bridgeport Adolescent Pregnancy Program; she studies at the Hartford Seminary's Black Ministries Program; she leads a faith-based HIV/AIDS prevention program for women called the NIA Alliance and she is the energetic grandmother of toddler twin granddaughters.

Image: Interior Design classInspired by her successful initial venture, Dougherty will take advantage of the formidable resources Fairfield University has to offer and has approached professors well versed in non-profit organizations in the Dolan School of Business for guidance on her fledgling NPO.

Clement's success with Le Cirque Designs has moved this dynamic designer to, as he describes it, "take my game plan to a whole new level: In February 2011 my partner and I will open House of Clement, a retail store in Norwalk, Connecticut, that will feature my entire new line - Maison Clement - of custom luxury upholstery, pillows, curtains and case goods. In addition, I plan to include a very select group of vendors in the inventory. To service a national and even, international clientele, we will initiate a dynamic Internet site." Clement's website describes Le Cirque Design as "Purveyors of Style, Elegance & Beyond."

Dougherty sees her master plan as " a cycle that begins and ends with the community." It includes creating a bridge for design students who are seeking the opportunity to design with deserving women in the community who will benefit from having a professionally designed space, working with clients "to achieve a design that reflects the client's personality and affirms who she is, where she's been and what she loves ... encouraging the community to support Her Haven" and ultimately to expand her non-profit organization to design schools and communities nationwide. Dougherty's website is www.herhaven.org.

Hardy couldn't be more pleased with his two students and the diverse directions they have taken to follow their dreams. "Gilles and Carey are passionate people who are using the fundamentals we teach in the Fairfield University interior design program to propel them to new heights. They represent the kind of students this program attracts; committed, concerned and ambitious."

For more information on the interior design program at Fairfield University, please contact Sandy Richardson at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2911 or by e-mail at arichardson@fairfield.edu. For course information, visit the website at www.fairfield.edu/interiordesign.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 13, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 39