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WVU Interior design graduate selected as a finalist for national design competition

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Inspired by color, West Virginia University interior design alumna Kasey Helmick designed a center for individuals with cognitive disabilities which would help them lead more fulfilling lives.

Her project, “True Colors,” was recognized as a regional winner and finalist for the national conference in the Interior Design Educators Council Student Design Competition.

Participants were tasked with designing a small vocational facility to serve as an educational and training space for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other cognitive disabilities.

True Colors Display poster for national conference

“After doing some research with ASD and speaking to people who were involved, I found that people who are on the autism spectrum learn through repetition and are visual learners,” Helmick said.

Helmick used color to inspire her concept. She designed a training space for individuals with autism to allow them to live active, self-determined lives. Instead of removing stimuli in the space, she wanted to help build a tolerance to it by using color strategically.

“I wanted to form the connection between color and movement,” she said. “As you walk into the space, there are colors on the floor that direct people to the different rooms in the space.”

With color coordinated dots and lines, Helmick designed a center that helped guide movement to certain locations. The various dots – red for standing and yellow for sitting – can help those with autism determine the correct distance when speaking to another individual.

Interior Design student Kasey Helmick stands beside her award winning display, True Colors.

“At the reception desk, for any situation where an individual should be waiting, I put red dots on the floor at the appropriate distance that you would have a conversation,” Helmick explained. “By placing my color circles at the correct distance, that repetition kind of creates the daily routine and the connection through color.”

Helmick plans to take everything she learned as a student at WVU and apply it to future, real-world designs. She wants to bring awareness that built environment effects everyone physically, mentally and emotionally.

“I would like to carry out the idea of designing with purpose by being socially responsible through all my designs,” she said.



CONTACT: Lindsay Willey, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, 304-293-2381,