There’s so much we can learn from each other. We learn from those we encounter in travel, the craftspeople that present at Markets, and from design students who are the future of the industry. PDC’s WESTWEEK encompassed all of these moments of learning and mingling, especially at Student Day, the week’s cap to celebrate it all. 

UCLA Design students presenting at PDC’s Student Day (From left) Lissette Meza, Julia Meylor, Lacey Easton, and Alexis Versace. 

Headed up by design industry veteran Rocky LaFleur and PDC’s Vice President of Marketing Jeff Sampson, Student Day morphed into an opportunity to give students the center stage, many ears, and a dedicated day to look back on their collective experience at Paris Deco Off last January. You can listen to the notable presentation here

“I wanted the design community to see the students not just as students,” Rocky LaFleur said. “The students are longing to have more information. They want stories. LaFleur accompanied seven students to Paris Deco Off and, along with Sampson, developed the plan for the students to present at PDC WESTWEEK and connect their trip to the Market’s theme “Artists + Artisans”. LaFleur said that they treated the students’ presentation as Keynotes. “We were taken by the students and their thinking,” he said.

While the students’ initiatives for Student Day were molded throughout their time in Paris, LaFleur formed his Student Day initiatives long before. “Number one, I wanted to extend the welcome and create an event that demystified the process. It was important that [the day] had a beginning, middle and an end. And [the students] could feel like they could follow up,” said LaFleur.

UCLA design student and Student Day’s panel moderator Lissette Meza was one of seven students to accompany LaFleur and Sampson to Paris for Paris Deco Off for the educational tours, which the LA ASID chapter and student chapter organized. According to Meza, Student Day was the first time she and her student peers stepped foot into the Pacific Design Center. 

“Everyone was happy to get an inside look at what goes on inside the PDC. A lot of students didn’t understand the basics to a showroom. They were surprised to know they represented other lines,” Meza said, “[Showroom associates] were all so great and welcoming; they made a point across being a resource for the students, designers, and professionals and opened up the doors if we need any help on everything. Everyone felt more comfortable coming back, just to check out the showrooms alone. ” In terms of the student presentation, Meza said it unfolded as an organic conversation rather than a formal presentation.

Rocky LaFleur (middle) at PDC WESTWEEK

LaFleur is a connector in this industry, especially for students. “The highlight was on the connection. We connected emerging professionals to the design professionals at the PDC. If you see people doing something together, it’s very powerful. I learned after 40 years in the business, that I needed to shift my mind. We needed to up our game,” said LaFleur.

(Above) Pierre Frey archival presentation at Paris Deco Off feat. Patrick Frey (middle) 

For Meza, her Paris experience was integral to her takeaway of Student Day. “The takeaway is understanding of the importance of artisans in the industry as a whole. In school, we talked about the drawing aspects and the technical aspects but I’ve never heard about the importance of antiques, artisans, and art. The whole Paris experience really encapsulated the importance of that in the industry,” Meza said.

(Above) Students’ images from Paris Deco Off

Every day can be student day across all of the Cohen Design Centers. On April 26th, DCOTA is kicking off their Student Tour Series that will last all summer long. Visit their Eventbrite for registration information. The DDB hosts student tours weekly and offers students discontinued fabrics to take home with them for their projects. Keep Student Day on your radar this year.