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HOUSE MAGAZINE
JULY/AUG 2009

The Metropolitan Institute of Interior Design moves its designers to a new spacious facility.  By: Jane Sullivan

The Metropolitan Institute of Interior Design (MID), which offers two diploma programs in Practical and Advanced Interior Design, recently moved to a spacious new facility at 200 Oak Drive, Syosset. According to MIDs president, Anthony E. Maceli, the newer 5,500-square foot contemporary building allows for a larger classrooms and communal areas, including libraries, conference and study rooms.

Although the plans to move to Syosset from their former Plainview location had been in the works for some time, Maceli suggests that the moved couldnt have been better timed. MID, he explains has long filled a special niche locally in the education of interior design, due to its enrollment focus on mature students-those changing careers after years in other fields or at home.

"At a time when the economy is causing many to pursue new directions, says Maceli, our ability to handle more such students-and in a beautiful and more comfortable environment-is very helpful to the Long Island community. He adds that present MID students, in addition to being from other artistic backgrounds, include former lawyers as well as three former investment backers.

According to MID administrators, in their 35 years as an educational institution, between 375 and 400 students have already been certified by their school. We have graduated some of the top interior designers of the region, says Maceli.

In addition to indoor and outdoor residential design, Maceli says some MID graduates specialize in office planning, retail, restaurant and hotel interior design.

We find that about 80 percent of those who enroll graduate, he adds. Most of our students have been to college and are accustomed to a study discipline. They range from about 30 years of age to about 50 with a few under 30, he says.

MIDs classes are held during the hours that best suit mature students-that is mostly in the morning, says Maceli, and they are usually finished by 1:30 pm.

In total, forty-three interior design courses are offered, as well as regular enrichment seminars. Students, he adds, study architectural detailing including floor plans, home renovations and construction codes. We also teach our students how to focus on the selection of interior items within a space, such as furniture, accessories, finishes and room layout.

Presentation skills are also emphasized. Being able to make a good public presentation is important to a students future success, says Maceli.

Schools administration officials say that design professionals, art historians and architects serve as instructors and lectures at MID in their areas of specialization.

One such practicing interior designer, author and MID educator is Susan J. Slotkis. Slotkis is the founder and chief designer of her own firm, Profiles-Professional Interiors, and her book Foundations of Interior Design is used in course study at MID.

In one of my classes, says Slotkis, I take information about previous lifestyles and design styles and show how they apply to current trends and our present way of life. One of my assignments requires students to chose a historical period as the inspiration behind the design of a restaurants motifs, colors, layout and furnishings.

With this project, students consider how did people eat at that time--at small intimate tables or did they eat in a communal way, says Slotkis. Its not that the students would design a medieval restaurant or kitchen or dining room but they would express the communal spirit without everybody eating with their fingers, she smiles.

Slotkis first earned a masters degree in social work from Boston University. Later, she changed careers, graduating with honors in interior design studies at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT/SUNY). FITs historical style classes opened my eyes. I would walk around Manhattan as if I was a tourist, staring at the gargoyles on the churches and reveling in the varied and exciting architecture.

Slotkis adds that the students at MID find these courses life-transforming. one of my students said recently that she was accustomed her whole life to being the quiet one when they went out with friends. And now, within just one semester at MID, allears and eyes seem to be on her.

When our students are in a restaurant, says Slotkis, they can understand how  the lighting is affecting the experience, how the colors and furniture are contributing to the dynamics of the space. People are fascinated by that.

In speaking of  interior design education, Slotkis emphasizes that you can never get too much of it. The instructors at MID definitely keep their skills up, learn new regulations, new products and new applications. Its not just about the aesthetics of a space.

One of todays new trends, says school trustee, Sherry Schweitzer, is green interior design. Beyond particular wood or trees that are endangered from over-cutting, at MID students learn about sustainability in many ways related to the earths resources.

Schweitzer, who owns her own successful event planning business, says that as a trustee she focuses on how to market the school in a way that shows how studying at  MID can help students build their own businesses for today.

They can get an interior design education without having to take on difficult math and science courses in order to develop a wonderful career.

In her own business, event planners, she explains, often use interior designers for the table settings, as well as for help with the flooring for tents, and with the decorative fabric and lighting for high-end events. But there are many ways those educated in interior design can specialize. Most importantly, says Schweitzer, MID helps students own self worth to be brought forward.

Schweitzer explains that MIDs new location has allowed the school to expand their techno base, Theres a new computer course under development, and more computers and programs for class courses and individual study are available. Years ago, one had to sketch out the plans - do layouts by hand - often changing them over  and over. But now its all computerized.

Trustee Schweitzer is particularly proud of the great care school administrators have taken to ensure that the new facility is eco-friendly in its decor as well as inviting. Its a very soothing and comfortable place. There are many people out there - both men and women - whos children may now be in high school and who are asking themselves: where do I go from here? she says.

The institutes president, Anthony E. Maceli suggests that, for some, MID might the answer they are looking for. Here students learn they are not vulnerable to others and that their own efforts bring the rewards. Our experience is that some begin working professionally before they even graduate.

In addition to their main focus on interior design programs, the school offers diploma courses in fashion design and feng shui. Administrators say that all diplomas are issued by the school through New York States Department of Education.

MID frequently holds free interior design seminars that are open to the public.