California Design College Students Get First Hand Experience and One Earns Scholarship From West Hollywood Hotel

October 25, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Los Angeles, October 25, 2007 – Little did Interior Design instructor Mark Lewison know that a class assignment would become an opportunity for his students to leave their creative mark on a West Hollywood hotel.

Mark Lewison, California Design College faculty member, met with Zoe Caratas, the [director of] Sales and Public Relations at the Ramada Plaza, West Hollywood last spring. He was looking for an inspiring new assignment for his Commercial Hospitality Design class. The meeting was a success. Lewison and Caratas developed an assignment that would benefit both the hotel and the students.

Over the summer, the class received real-life experience with a design project to renovate several guest rooms at the hotel. The assignment involved creating floor plans, color schemes and an overall design concept using specifications provided by Ramada Plaza. The students interviewed the client, conducted site visits and researched budget parameters.

The most valuable education for the students came from working with a tangible project. “With real projects come real problems. You can’t pretend…and the budget constraints are firm,” remarked Lewison. As in the real world, the students were forced to work within the parameters they were provided. In a fictitious assignment, there are no room restrictions or cost parameters to truly deal with. In the end, each student made an on-site presentation at the Ramada Plaza to staff and Alan Johnson, Managing Director of Holteliers International Corporation, owner of the Ramada Plaza and dozens of other hotels across the globe.

The Ramada Plaza was so impressed with the students’ concepts they wanted to offer a $1,000.00 scholarship to the student with the best overall design. Lewison and Karen Nowak, academic department director for Interior Design at California Design College, were tasked to select the winner. Each student’s designs were impressive, but they were ultimately drawn to Kirsten Wasser’s presentation. “Kirsten’s was the most creative. It played on old Hollywood mystique and dynamic use of color.” Nowak said of Wasser’s project. Kirsten’s project included low cost, durable options that made it particularly appealing to the Ramada Plaza. According to Kirsten Wasser, a third year student at California Design College, “The scope of the project was a bit overwhelming. [It] was so much bigger than we thought it would be…I am amazed at how professional my work has become.”

The Ramada Plaza is considering using elements from each of the presentations when they plan renovations to the hotel. Due to the success, Lewison plans to incorporate a more in depth assignment into his syllabus for the next quarter and present again to the Ramada.
Zoe Caratas said “We were impressed with the creative and functional concepts brought by the students and we look forward to seeing the work next quarter. There are plans to implement many aspects into our rooms.”
California Design College is one of The Art Institutes (, a system of over 35 locations throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary professionals.