Interior Design Chapel: Where creators meet the Creator

January 19, 2023
Elliston Chapel

A few years ago, during a Baylor Invitation to Excellence event, a very astute prospective student, who was interested in attending both a reputable Interior Design program and a Christian university, asked Clinical Assistant Professor Ann Theriot and her Interior Design faculty colleagues what made the Baylor Interior Design program “Christian.” While they were able to provide some general answers, the question left Theriot and her fellow faculty members pondering. Other than the impact of their own faith and the activities of the broader University, what about Baylor’s Interior Design program was distinctly Christian?

A seed was planted.

Later, through a conversation with Matthew Aughtry, Assistant Director for Worship, Technology, and Communications with Baylor Spiritual Life, Theriot discovered that the Baylor Chapel team was exploring new opportunities for that time-honored tradition, including “Calling & Career Chapels.” These new Chapel experiences are designed around the intersection of academic study and Christian formation, allowing students to learn spiritual practices and vocational stewardship with those who share their fields of study. Theriot and Aughtry determined that Interior Design would be an excellent fit for a “Calling & Career Chapel” due to the program’s size and structure.

“Our freshman classes are a manageable size,” Theriot said. “Our students go through the program in a very structured way, so they’re in their classes together all four years, multiple classes a semester.”

Theriot and Aughtry, who has a background in film and art, put their heads together to think through the Interior Design Chapel content and programming. Vocation emerged as a significant topic—helping students understand that God has crafted them for their calling and that this can be a part of God’s holy work.

“We want our students to see the immense value that the practice of Interior Design is for the people we’re serving,” Theriot said. “Interior Design sometimes has a superfluous reputation, but it’s an absolutely vital part of thriving communities. We’re hoping that if our students have a right understanding of the way that God has spoken into human lives through their vocations throughout history, then they will also start to see the work that they’re being prepared for from that same perspective.”

The Interior Design Chapel kicked off in Fall 2022. Led by Aughtry, each weekly session was held in the beautiful Elliston Chapel and included readings, journaling, and discussion. On the first day, the students read Genesis 1 and 2, the creation narratives. They contemplated how God spoke definition into space, bringing order out of chaos—not unlike their own profession as interior designers.

“God is the first and the best designer, the best crafter of space. We can be crafters of space as well,” Theriot said. “The students’ minds and attitudes are being expanded to observe God’s creation that we deem beautiful. They can participate in that kind of redemptive work through their own professional calling.”

Freshmen Interior Design student Camden Kraft emphasized how impactful it was to connect her major with her faith, especially during her first semester at Baylor.

“Having this as the foundation of everything else I learn is such a good way to start my college career,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do Interior Design and I knew I had a creative mindset, but getting into Interior Design Chapel and learning how the Lord can use me in my career was such a cool thing.”

Kraft also shared how the program helped build connection between her fellow classmates. In her words, it was a great way to “get further deepened into the Interior Design community through your faith.”

“It was cool having a discussion-based Chapel because I really got to hear about my fellow students’ viewpoints and ideas on what we were talking about each week,” she said. “I also got to hear from my professor, Professor Theriot. I felt like I got a lot closer to her because I got to hear about her faith and how it played a role in her career as a designer.”

For the 2022-23 academic year, the Interior Design Chapel was strongly recommended to Interior Design students by their academic advisors, but Theriot shares that the class will be added to the Catalog next year and become a requirement for freshmen in the program.

“We’re really hopeful that this will become a defining characteristic of our program,” she said. “We hope to be known for having students who are spiritually healthy, who are aware and excited about their vocation, and who see it as a valuable contribution to healthy societies.”