If there’s a time and a place to learn interior design without quitting your day job, abandoning your family and taking out a second mortgage while you attend a traditional school, it has to be now and the place is Rhodec International. Rhodec offers the most cost-effective, quality distance education program in interior design, in the world.
Rhodec International was founded in 1960 by Thomas B. Dwyer, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a prominent member of many design and educational bodies. Dwyer worked as an Architect and Interior Designer in Europe and Africa, and he lectured extensively on these subjects at traditional colleges.
Since then Rhodec has enrolled tens of thousands of students from more than 100 countries around the world. The opening of a US office and the introduction of US-based tutors have led to an increased interest here and in Canada. Our tutors are dedicated to their students and understand the challenges that learning via distance poses along with the fact that English may not be the first language for some of them. Almost all of our tutors are NCIDQ-certified Interior Designers with extensive teaching experience so they have the expertise not only to practice in the subject but also to guide the students through their studies without the traditional classroom environment. One tutor compared the rewards of teaching to the ribbon-cutting ceremony of an opening.
We offer two courses: a one-year foundation course in Interior Design and Decoration that is an ideal introduction to the subject for those who would like to work on small residential projects and for family and friends; and the three-year, 60-semester hour, Rhodec Diploma course that trains to professional level. This course satisfies the educational requirement for the NCIDQ exam and qualifies students for ASID Allied Membership. ASID student members are eligible to advance to Allied status on successful completion of the Diploma course.
Many wonder how Interior Design can really be learned without physical interaction with other students and faculty members. Rhodec’s students are determined to have as much ‘contact’ as they can with fellow students. We are the only distance learning school in the world with an ASID Student Chapter, which is unique in its virtual nature. There is no school lounge where students meet over coffee and discuss events and news together; instead it’s an online organization of student members from over 100 countries successfully communicating, despite disparate time zones, languages and cultures. Some of the ways in which they connect are:
- Arranging contests to encourage student involvement
- Setting up and attending regular online meetings
- Frequent interaction within the chapter by way of online chats
- Communication with school faculty, to keep up to date with developments on both sides
- Getting together locally, where possible, with other students to attend trade shows, exhibitions, etc.
The leadership skills cultivated by students through this process entail critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving skills that will inform their work as designers and enable them to distinguish themselves in the field.
Human interaction is of course essential with any course of study and especially Interior Design. Our student bulletin board provides a way for students to meet others, either locally or around the world. Groups of students arrange get-togethers and even trips. One group has booked a few nights in a Frank Lloyd Wright house, which should prove an exciting weekend getting to know each other while furthering their studies.
One of the higher profile meetings took place when a student contacted celebrity designer Christopher Lowell and asked if he would mentor a Rhodec student project. A group of students met online to create a dream makeover for a child with special needs in Los Angeles, California. Christopher himself mentored the group and the project was aired on the Discovery Channel’s It’s Christopher Lowell show. Most of the students involved in the online project were present at the show, and it was a wonderful experience for them all to actually meet in person for the first time. I re-joined the students that evening along with renowned Los Angeles interior designer Kelly Emberg our surprise dinner guest. It was a fun end to the day and allowed the students the opportunity to discuss the profession in a casual and intimate setting.
Earlier this year Rhodec participated in Elle Décor‘s Dining by Design event in NYC. The event benefits the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and attracts celebrity designers who create elaborate tabletop designs. Six students* were chosen to work on the design; they were from Mexico, Switzerland, Belgium & the US. Again, through online collaboration a design was worked out and the details put together. The table design was a hit at the public showing and a delight for the dinner guests attending the gala on the last night of the event.
* A testimonial about the event from Rhodec student Kelly Garcia, who is also featured in this month’s STAR POWER section: “I had the pleasure of entering a Rhodec sponsored ‘contest’ and was one of six students chosen to represent the school in NYC in February, 2004, at a DIFFA event sponsored by Elle Décor and Taittinger Champagne. Our team came from various locations around the world, and we worked for three months completely via the internet to design and source a complete table design. It consisted of an exchange of a series of ideas and drawings that were scanned and posted on a Yahoo chat site. We worked as a team to reach a consensus, sourcing from all countries and then shipping materials. Our team finally met two days before the event, where we assembled our design for the first time. It was an amazing experience, and all minds seemed to work as one – a well-oiled machine, if you will! To our surprise, our table design stood up to the best of them. To one side was Crate & Barrel and to the other was Ralph Lauren Home. People came and asked questions, as we were the only student group represented. They were impressed with how we accomplished our design, which was featured in the NY Daily Post and also in the ASID newsletter.”
These two events demonstrate that what these students learned from their textbooks and tutors could be applied to real hands-on design. It’s proof that with dedication and self-discipline you don’t need to be in a traditional classroom setting to learn. It’s been working for over forty years, after all!
Director of US & Canadian Affairs
IDEC, IFDA, Industry Member IIDA
Rhodec/ASID Student Chapter Faculty Advisor
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