Featured Scholar: Rachael Horowitz

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Featured Scholar: Rachael Horowitz
Watson, Sara
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Featured Scholar:
Rachael Horo'..'iLz

2003 - 2004 University Scholar
Mentor: Helena Moussatche
College of Design, Construction and Planning

Interior design senior Rachael Horowitz says home decorating shows like Trading Spaces
and Surprise by Design are giving the public a vast misconception of what it is that
professional interior designers do. "I like to watch those shows, because they have some
good ideas, but they aren't the greatest for the industry," she says. "When I tell people
I'm in interior design they think I must have so much fun making floral arrangements
and hanging photos, but there is really so much more to it that that. I can do those
things, and I enjoy them, but as a professional designer I am never going to make my
own lamps."

Tired of being thought of as hot glue gun-wielding crafts-makers with a penchant for
covering everything that will sit still with lace, Horowitz says many in the design field are
moving to be called interior architects. "To be an interior designer you have to take a test
and get licensed, otherwise you can't practice in most states, and a lot of people don't
know that," she says. "I will have to take continuing education courses for the rest of my
life to stay certified. I have taken architecture courses for three semesters and I
understand the concepts and plan to use them in my designs. So interior designers now
prefer to be called interior architects, but it is not as common as I think it will be in the
very near future. It will become necessary because of these shows and the growing

UF interior design students in the College of Design, Construction and Planning take
courses in architecture, applied physics, 3-D computer applications, materials and
estimating, technical writing, communication, and interior design history-a far cry from
the stereotypical wallpapering and drapes-hanging courses in the public mindset. "People
do not understand what interior designers do," Horowitz says. "They often think we are
decorators, and we just choose colors or textures and fabrics. That is a part of it, but it is
so much more. We study the psychology of how people feel in the space, how they
interact with the environment and how it makes them feel. I am particularly interested in
color, because I love how it makes me feel."

For her USP project, Horowitz decided to research how color is affected by light. Though
she has taken a lighting course, she says it focused on the physics of lighting, instead of
the way it affects color. So as a University Scholar, Horowitz decided to study how two
different lighting sources affect color. Using the color spectrum-red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, violet-she wanted to see how light changes color, so she constructed a
white box, one foot square, to simulate a white interior environment and attached an
aperture to the top where true light or incandescent light was installed to test the effects
on color.

Horowitz tested 30 people in the design field-including students and design professionals
-and had them view color under true and incandescent lighting and try to match up the
color they believed they were looking at with a color swatch. "They didn't know what the
purpose was, I would just tell them to please tell me which color they think is in the
box," Horowitz says. "I wanted to see if there was a commonality-either they all chose
the same correct one or the same wrong one."

Horowitz found that red and orange shades held true under both light, but blues, greens,
violets and yellows changed randomly. There was no pattern in the sampling, participants
perceived a drastic variation of colors-confusing, for example, a very light blue for a
dark blue. "I polled designers and you would think we would have a trained eye, but the
light changes the color so drastically they were choosing what they thought was in there,
but when you took it out it was a totally different color. They all wanted to know if they
chose the right color and were really interested in what I was doing because, though
there is a lot of information about the physics and psychology of color, we don't know a
lot about how people perceive color and how it is changed by lighting."

Horowitz says that designers need to be more aware of how the color they choose for a
room will be affected by light, otherwise they may not get the desired effect. "As a
designer going into the field very soon, I will do these types of things on my own just so
I can know how things are going to really look. It's important for the designer to
understand because the desired effect that you want may not actually happen."

Horowitz is graduating this semester and is looking for an interior design job in the
Northeast, preferably in the hospitality design area. She is secretary of the American

Journal of Undurgraduate Re~carch Universilyof Florida

Society of Interior Designers at UF and received a scholarship in 2003 from the Network
of Executive Women in Hospitality. She interned during the summer of 2003 at Hillier,
one of the top design firms in the US, and worked in south Florida during the summer of
2002 in the F. Schumacher and Company showroom. She says she believes the USP will
help her land a job in her field.

"I am not the type of person to just go out and do research, but when I heard about this
program and the opportunity to get published in the JUR, I felt it was something I wanted
to do," she says. "I wanted to represent my college and other designers and I think it will
be a valuable tool to bring to a future employer. This turned out to be really great
experience, and I am really glad I had the opportunity."


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