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International Student Enrolls in Interior Design Certificate Program to Enhance Career

December 12, 2018 at 11:04AM
International Student Enrolls in Interior Design Certificate Program to Enhance Career

Merle Groeskamp shares insight into her experience as an International student of the Interior Design Certificate program with Parsons at Open Campus while effectively balancing classes on-campus, work, and family.

1. How did you hear of the Interior Design program and why did you decide to apply and pursue this particular degree?

I’m from Amsterdam and I’ve been working as a freelance stylist, mostly in fashion, for the past eight years. Three years ago, my husband, daughter and I moved to New York. I’ve always been interested in interior design and I felt the need to learn more about it, especially as I began getting more interior-related jobs. A friend of mine was familiar with the Parsons at Open Campus Fashion Business Certificate program and spoke to me about it with so much enthusiasm! That’s when I started looking at the program options at Parsons School of Design at The New School. 

2. Can you share with us a little bit of your experience as a student of Interior Design with Parsons at Open Campus.

I really love that most of the professors are working in the field. For example, on top of teaching, my professor also worked at an architectural office, and so they were up to date about what’s going on in the industry. 

I started with the Basic Core class, which was a good orientation for me as well. Besides going to class every Saturday, we had our homework and weekly assignments to visit must-see places like stores, buildings, and exhibitions, which I really enjoyed. Even after I finished class, I still kept in contact with one of my professors. She advised me while I had one of my first clients here in New York; I did local production/setup for a British men’s store in Soho.

"School supplies."

3. How do you plan to use the Interior Design certificate for career enhancement?

While taking classes within the program, I have already found and been hired for interior-specific jobs. With this certificate, I am also able to enhance my resume. Of course, fashion and interior styling are related, but this certificate shows the further knowledge and experience I now have in interior design.

4. How has the program been able to complement your busy lifestyle and other commitments regarding work, family, etc.? 

One of the main reasons why I chose the certificate program was because it fit in with my lifestyle at the time. When I started the first course, I was pregnant with our second child. I was working freelance for several fashion-related clients, took care of our daughter, and went to school on Saturdays. I took two classes every semester, which worked really well. Currently, I’m working on the restyling of an office space in a former church in Little Italy, and I’m about to start my last course in order to receive my certificate.

"Gallery visits with my daughter."

5. Do you plan on taking advantage of the online options now available?

Personally I love to go to class, but I think the online options are a really nice addition for the hectic schedule.  I think it also depends on the specific class you’re taking. For me, Interior Design is really visual so I found it important to have a weekly ‘face to face’ with my professor and classmates. I found it valuable physically going to school because I was able to see the process of others as well — I think, for me, this interaction in a creative process is necessary. 

6. As an international student, what are some of your favorite experiences?

I think there’s no better city in the world to start learning about architecture and interior design. This city is one big playground with inspiration on every corner. 

I love searching for inspiration and discovering the city at the same time. Also, I loved going to back to school. Besides having a family and my work, it’s nice to have some time for myself as well and focus on something that has my personal interest. I think it’s important you continue to develop yourself, and what better way to do this than abroad!

"Credit visit: The beautiful Terrazzo Interior - Valentino Store on 5th Ave by David Chipperfield Architects."

7. Where do you draw inspiration from?


I still love to browse though Interior Design magazines, but also visit architectural websites often. I find my inspiration in the city, but also on Instagram.  Next to that, I get inspiration from the works of: Mies van der Rohe, Steven Holl, Jean Prouve, Charlotte Perriand, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Henri Matisse.

I’m recently fascinated by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and of the Dutch artist collective Studio Drift. And I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Architecture and Design Film festival.

Interested in learning more about our Interior Design Certificate Program, or other Continuing Education courses offered by Open Campus at The New School? Contact us today.

Written by Casey O'Connell for Open Campus.

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