Lisa Switzer – Educating the next generation to embrace teamwork and create their mark in interior design

Design and Merchandising instructor Lisa Switzer smiles outside of the Nancy Richardson Design Center

Lisa Switzer is a new instructor in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. Switzer utilizes her knowledge and dedication to advocate for the adaptive use of existing buildings and inspire the next generation to continue the legacy of historical spaces. 

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I recently moved to Fort Collins from the Twin Cities in Minnesota with my family. We are excited to settle in and explore. My background has been working in hospitality design as well as teaching interior architecture and design. I am originally from Marion, Iowa. It was a great place to grow up with rolling green hills and access to nature, it really does look like a Grant Wood painting. My grandparents lived on a farm, and I have fond memories of my parents taking me there and exploring the fields, jumping in the corn bins, and helping my grandmother with the garden.  

I hold a B.A. in interior design from the University of Northern Iowa and an M.S. in architecture from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Outside of academia, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Exploring the outdoors, hiking, paddle boarding, walking, and yoga. I love touring historical architecture, traveling to urban areas, and experiencing different cultures and foods. 

What brought you to Design and Merchandising at CSU?  

The department culture and the facility. The faculty in the Interior Architecture and Design Program are engaging, creative, forward thinking, and have developed an amazing program here at CSU. It’s an exciting time to be a part of growing the program.  

What are your research and/or teaching interests, and how did you get interested in that topic?  

Historical interiors and architecture, along with the adaptive reuse of existing spaces has long been an interest of mine. I love seeing a building maintain its historical integrity while being relevant in current society. Just as we all adapt in an ever-changing world, so can the built environment. 

I hope that I can capture the spark and excitement students have early in the IAD program and harness it to create an environment of engaged learning and design thinking. I want to encourage students to view the built environment as a collection of smaller elements and build a foundational understanding of how everything comes together through the design process. 

What is your teaching philosophy?  

It is my objective to grow students into lifelong learners who engage in teamwork, live ethically, have productive and creative careers, and contribute positively to their community and cultural good. Throughout the student’s educational journey, it is important to provide guidance along the way, to push beyond the perceived boundaries, and to develop a growth mindset for creating design solutions. The practice of interior architecture and design is constantly evolving, design is not static, and I work to harness curiosity by encouraging students to question why, to explore various solutions, and not commit to a design too early in the process. 

What is your favorite thing about CSU and the campus?  

I am excited to be a part of the CSU culture where you can see leadership and faculty are committed to the development of engaging curriculum that will successfully prepare students for careers in interior architecture and design. As for my favorite thing about the campus – the Nancy Richardson Design Center and fabrication labs. Such an amazing facility that I look forward to utilizing with my students. 

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.