SAI recently caught up with SAI alumna Misha Maier, who completed her Masters degree abroad, to ask her about her experience abroad and her life now.
Where and when did you study abroad?
From 2009 to 2010 I attended the Masters in Interior Design and Living program at Domus Academy in Milan, Italy.
Was there a class that you took abroad that really stood out from the others?
While not specifically a class, there was a project that we were assigned that really stood out. The project was to create a lighting installation for a competition for a lighting festival that takes place yearly in Milan. The mentor for this project was a well-known lighting designer and to get the opportunity to receive feedback and insight from him was incredibly rewarding.
What have you done since returning from studying abroad (career, education, passions, etc.)?
Since returning from Milan I moved to a Los Angeles where I have worked at a few different design offices. Each office has differed in its aesthetic and client base, which has made for a diverse and exciting experience.
How has studying abroad affected you (both personally and professionally)?
Really what studying abroad does more than anything is afford perspective, to see the world and open your eyes to different cultures, ways of life, artists, designers, give new inspiration and allow you the experience of knowing yourself and how you respond and relate to a challenge and adventure exploring a new place.
What is your first memory of being interested in the design field?
While I was in high school I took a class in architecture which opened my eyes to the world of interior design. I really enjoyed architecture but especially liked the interior design focus.
What advice would you give to students interested in working in the design field?
Having a degree in interior design is extremely important from a practical standpoint since there are a number of valuable computer programs which you learn in school, most importantly of which I think is AutoCAD for drafting. Equally important is doing an internship early on while in school so as to gain real-life experience in working at an interior design office. While what you learn in school is extremely valuable, nothing beats the hands on experience you gain at an office.
What were some of the most important lessons you learned abroad?
While I was at Domus all of the projects we were assigned, except for the thesis, were completed as a group. Given the fact that the school has an extremely diverse student body, we were able to work with others that possess completely different backgrounds, skill sets and manners of work. This, even with the difficulties that would occasionally arise, proved to be an extremely valuable experience in working with others.
What was your “SAI Moment” (a defining moment in your study abroad experience)?
Though not directly related to school, one of my most fond memories of my year was traveling. Because of its Northern location in Italy, Milan is very accessible to other European cities. I took advantage of this by travelling as much as I could. One of the more memorable trips I took was to Stockholm, Sweden for a furniture fair. Never having visited a Scandinavian country I was completely enthralled by it and found it incredibly inspiring from a design perspective.