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Inspired by modern art, PCC student sweeps NKBA kitchen and bath design contests

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Portland Community College student Rodney Wildermuth swept the top two prizes over the summer in the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Columbia River Chapter’s Student Design Contest. Wildermuth took home top honors in both Best Kitchen and Best Bath categories, earning a Bosch laser measure and $600, which he donated to the chapter’s charity of choice, Girls Build

bathroom renovation concepts

Wildermuth’s bathroom renovation concepts.

His contest winning entries were the capstone project for his course “Interior Design 238 – Advanced Kitchen & Bath,” which is a required for all of the Building Construction Technology Program’s Design/Build Remodeling graduates. Students cerated the same full working documents a contractor would need before a build, including drawings, specifications, design statement and renderings.

Wildermuth and his classmates were not given total creative freedom, however. Interior design faculty Robin Fisher gave each student in the class a unique piece of art from New York’s Museum of Modern Art that they were required to base their designs on. Wildermuth’s initial reaction to his assigned inspiration piece was less than enthusiastic. 

“He really hated the art I gave to him,” Fisher recalled.

Though more diplomatic in his recollection, the student said that incorporating the piece into his design was certainly the biggest challenge he faced in the class. 

“The paintings were complex and abstract with really strong color elements,” he said. “I started by pulling colors from the paintings to use in the design, but I struggled to really integrate the less literal elements of the paintings.” 

Rather than let his frustration derail him, however, Wildermuth dug deeper into his research and worked through many iterations until he found a creative solution. But sweeping top honors in the student design contest, however, never seemed possible to him.

bathroom renovation plan

And his award-winning bathroom renovation plan.

“My reaction to winning was complete shock,” Wildermuth said. “I think I asked if I was the only entry.”

Fisher said he did exactly how professionals in the field are expected to approach projects.

“The reality is that when working with a client we have to work with what they want, not what we would do in our own home,” Fisher said. “He knocked it out of the park.”

Wildermuth said the class required him to incorporate everything he had learned previously in BCT courses taught by the Design/Build Program’s co-chair Hilary Campbell. His success showcased the multidisciplinary emphasis in PCC’s Building Construction Technology Program. Students are exposed to a variety of skill sets and often discover a talent for something they had never previously considered a strength. 

“That’s what’s great about our school — we offer so many opportunities to become a complete professional,” Campbell added. 

About Alfredo V. Moreno

Alfredo has served PCC's westside communities in both a community engagement and public relations capacity since September of 2018. Born in the border city of El Paso, Texas, Alfredo grew up in the timber town of Roseburg in Southern Oregon... more »