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Student Success

A student’s design for a modular restaurant created from shipping containers that can be disassembled, transported and reassembled took one of the top honors in the Planning and Visual Education (PAVE) 2017 Student Design Competition.

Emma Morris, a senior in Appalachian State University’s interior design program, competed against more than 400 other entries and took third place, receiving $2,500 in scholarship funds. She was also recognized at the annual PAVE gala in December 2017 in New York City in front of an audience of more than 700 designers, retailers and suppliers.

Emma Morris receives her award in New York City.

“I have always been inspired by Appalachian’s emphasis on sustainability and wanted to try my hand at a design that had recycling and modularity at heart,” said Morris, a student in the Department of Applied Design. “My inspiration came from the idea of creating a prototype that could be used anywhere and could be customizable to any college campus.”

Morris, who is from Charlotte, prepared her design as part of Dr. Hessam Ghamari’s fall 2017 senior studio. This year’s competition sponsor, Chick-fil-A, asked students to reinvent the restaurant experience on a college campus by expanding the way they engage guests. Students were encouraged to think outside the box while drawing inspiration from a variety of sources.

Morris designed her project, the Chick-Fil-A Hub, to be sustainable, customizable and technology driven. According to her business description, the modular design is based on an excess of shipping containers in the U.S., while the restaurant’s use of recyclable paper or reusable insulated cups is designed to curb the use of Styrofoam products, which make up 30 percent of landfills.

“I have always been inspired by Appalachian’s emphasis on sustainability…”

The Hub app allows students to order meals on their devices or through electronic menus at the location, while also providing nutritional and other information and invites to community events such as “garden parties.”

Both Ghamari and Department Chair Brian Davies said they were thrilled with the outcome and opportunities provided by the competition.

“PAVE has been an exceptional opportunity for our students to shine and showcase their creativity and deep understanding of design of a retail environment,” Ghamari said. “It has also opened doors to connect our students to retail industry.”

Davies said Morris and her professor put Appalachian on this national stage for a second consecutive year. Four seniors from Appalachian won PAVE 2016 Student Design Competition awards. In the Visual Merchandising category, Emma White, of Elkin, placed first; Katie Taylor, of Charlotte, placed second; and Rebecca Ballard, of Mooresville, placed third. Elizabeth Hundley, of Hickory, received the top honor in the Store Design category.

“PAVE has been an exceptional opportunity for our students to shine and showcase their creativity and deep understanding of design of a retail environment,”

“The Department of Applied Design is establishing a reputation for fostering future design leaders,” Davies said.

Morris attributes her success to the program’s community-centered environment and faculty members’ support.

“Some stay late and go out of their way to make sure we are amounting to our true potential on every project, and all have a genuine interest in our lives and in our futures,” she said.


Read original story on the Appalachian State University website. Originally written by Meghan McCandless. Originally published Feb. 7, 2018.