Columbia College Chicago Faculty, Students, and Alumni Honored at 6th Annual Recognizing Exemplary Design Awards

Student Wenhan Zhang’s winning design "Tea Zone." Image courtesy of International Interior Design Association.

CHICAGO (May 22, 2018)Columbia College Chicago students and alumni were honored at the 6th Annual Recognizing Exemplary Design (RED) Awards, hosted by the Illinois Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). The annual awards ceremony celebrates exemplary designs from local interior designers in the Chicagoland community.

More than 100 submissions were entered and reviewed for this year’s competition. Thirteen awards were given to eight design firms and two student awards were given to Columbia students, both from the college’s Design Department. The winners were announced in an awards ceremony at Venue SIX10 on May 10, 2018.

Interior Architecture student Wenhan Zhang received the Michelle Roberts Student Award, which includes a $2,000 honorarium. The award is given to a design student whose work illustrates professional dedication and promise. Another Columbia Interior Architecture student, Emily Anderson, was the recipient of this year’s Honorable Mention Student Award.

Alum Margaret Plass ’17 recently joined Eastlake Studios, an architecture and interior design firm which took home a RED Award in the category for a contract with less than 10,000 square feet, as well as the People’s Choice category. This year’s RED Awards jurors were designer Kevin Grace of HGTV’s Design Star and Jim Favaro, principal architect of Johnson Favaro.

The IIDA also awarded alum Samantha King ’13 and Associate Professor of Design Petra Probstner with Education Fund Awards to support continuing professional development.

“Columbia faculty, students, and alumni were included and celebrated at this year’s RED Awards on many different levels,” said Probstner. “Our Interior Architecture program is woven into the city’s design community and industry. These awards illustrate and reinforce those strong professional connections.”

Work from RED Award winners will be displayed on the IIDA Illinois Chapter website until next year’s ceremony. Two winners will be selected to showcase their winning designs during the IIDA’s “RED to TED” seminars hosted by the Illinois Chapter in the upcoming year.


Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts, and business for nearly 7,500 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging, and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit


Danielle Wilcox
Columbia College Chicago