With the hopes of creating a better learning environment and a more dynamic experience for faculty and students of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) Interior Design department, Eric Daniels, the founding principal of architecture firm ekdnyc, has taken the reigns as head of the department.
Daniels, who holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute School of Architecture, has more than 30 years of experience in the field. His Midtown Manhattan-based firm specializes in architectural and interior design services and he has worked with private homeowners and apartment shareholders, condo and co-op boards, residential and commercial developers, real estate brokers, high-profile personalities and young entrepreneurs.
Daniels succeeds Andrew Seifer, who held the position of Chairperson for the past three years, and remains on staff as an Associate Professor of Interior Design.
This reporter chatted with Daniels to get the scoop on the new gig, which officially began on July 1.
Why were you interested in taking this position at FIT?
I saw a need to bring more exposure to the students through special projects and exhibits that show the interior design industry and the community the high level of talent and creativity we have here.
What do you hope to bring to the position and the department?
I taught in the Graduate Interior Design program at Pratt Institute, and the AAS & BFA Interior Design programs at both Parsons and FIT. I have been working in the design industry for 30 years and have been teaching for 20 years. I bring real life experience in design and construction to the classroom and bring my students to the jobsites. As the chairperson, I hope to effectively bring together the creative aspects of the classroom with the realities of the design industry to foster a more seamless transition into the workplace.
Do you have any goals for the next year or so?
My goals are to help usher in the new curriculum currently being written which incorporates a more diverse educational approach through collaborative teaching, sustainability and community service-type design projects, and to broaden the learning experience for the students by allowing for cross-disciplinary approaches to design.
What can we expect to see/learn from you and the department?
What I hope can be learned from our department in the next three years will be that the effort put in by our faculty and staff to create a better learning environment and a more dynamic experience for our faculty and students will be felt by the students as they progress through the program. I hope it will be a positive experience in the department and that design offices will benefit from the new ways of engaging the designers of the future.
If you hadn't gone into the interior design field, what would you be doing?
I have a love for theater and playwriting. I hold a Post Graduate degree in Drama from the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA, UK). I was a set designer and musician, and was a member of the Gorilla Rep Theatre Company in NYC performing Shakespeare in the Park. I have written and produced plays that were performed in the NYC Fringe Festival and Kentucky Repertory Theatre. I continue to write and hope to one day get back to my trumpet.
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