Congratulations to Bachelor of Interior Design student Xie Maggie Hill (BSID ’21), named one of Metropolis Magazine’s Future 100! Launched this year, Metropolis’s Future 100 program recognizes the top 100 graduating students from architecture and interior design programs in the United States and Canada. Selected from a diverse pool of nearly 300 candidates, Xie is one of only 50 interior design students to receive the honor, selected based on the creativity, rigor, skill, and professionalism exhibited by her portfolio and nomination entry.
In addition to the prestigious Metropolis Future 100, Xie was a finalist in the 2020 American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) National Student Portfolio Competition; has received multiple awards from the Texas / Oklahoma chapter of ASID; and has received numerous Design Excellence Awards from the school during her time as a School of Architecture student.
We recently caught up with Xie to learn more about her background, design interests, and experience as a UTSOA student.
Tell us a bit about your background and personal interests:
Growing up, I always had an interest in building and making and, for a long time, I thought I would pursue a career in robotics and manufacturing. My public high school also had several magnet programs, one of which was robotics, where I learned some technical skills and even how to weld. In my junior year, I left to attend a mathematics and science academy where I thought I could focus on classes that would help me pursue a career in a STEM field. While I did not end up staying along this path, my interest in research, assemblies, making, and building persisted.
What initially got you interested in pursuing interior design? What appealed to you about UTSOA in particular?
For the longest time, I had a rigorous determination to pursue robotics or some STEM-related field. It was in my second to last semester and senior year at the math and science academy that derailed this “plan.” I encountered several personal obstacles that became so insurmountable that I decided to drop out of school. I was incredibly lost and struck with the realization that this field that I had been pursuing for so long was not for me.
During this period, I also had multiple hospitalizations for my health, and it was in these moments that I started to see spaces differently. Something as “small” as a room or piece of furniture gave me space to reflect and the strength to preserve, and I began to see interior design as an incredibly impactful and meaningful pursuit. I believe interior design is a calling that found me out of a desire to create spaces for others like the spaces that supported me in a time of need—spaces that cultivate belonging, agency, and empathy.
I did not know much about UTSOA before I applied, other than its consistency in ranking as a top design school. I knew I was interested in going to a four-year research institution and toured the school after receiving an offer. What sealed the deal for me was this tour and the time that the student, academic advisor, and program faculty director spent with me and my family, educating us about the program and opportunities here. I had looked at a few other schools, but the level of personability at UTSOA stood out and just a few minutes after the event, I had cemented my decision to accept my offer from the UT School of Architecture.
What have been some of your favorite parts of the program?
My favorite part of UTSOA is the people. It is what has drawn me in and kept me going, particularly my cohort of fellow interior designers. I could not have done anything alone, and it has been a privilege to be surrounded by a community of supportive mentors, peers, and friends. It has been an honor to be a part of a group that is consistently encouraging, passionate, and uplifting.
Tell us about any specific courses, resources, or faculty members that have been instrumental in shaping your experience.
Professors Tamie Glass and Clay Odom have been instrumental in my shaping my experience at UTSOA. I met Professor Glass during my tour of the school, and her encouragement and support throughout my time here have been invaluable to my development as a designer. I value the human-centered approach she implements in her classrooms and studios, which also extends to her interactions with students. Additionally, her support and advice on joining professional organizations have been vital to trying to start the beginning of my professional career.
Professor Odom has been equally instrumental. Throughout my time here, I have taken six of his classes, from foundations to seminars. Each time I appreciate his unique approach, which allows for non-prescriptive rigor and design exploration. He has helped me see interior design in an expansive way that allows me to integrate my STEM background and continuing interests in interior design.
How has your time here at UTSOA changed how you view interior design? Are there any specific areas within the field that you’re particularly interested in pursuing?
My experience at UTSOA has shifted my perspective and interests within design. As I am in my final semester, I have realized the broader application of a degree in interior design. Currently, I am interested in design research and even potentially teaching interior design one day, after I gain experience in professional practice.
I am passionate about the interdisciplinary, iterative, and human-centered components of design. I deeply believe interior design has the power and responsibility to create moments that change people’s lives on multiple scales, and that interior design is crucial in co-creating spaces that allow everyone to be their full selves. I have learned to apply the knowledge gained from my robotics and STEM experience through scripting and design research. I also value the process of design and iteration as a process of exploration practiced through formal studies and physical modeling. I hope to continue to grow as a design professional and give the knowledge, empathy, and generosity I have been granted through design. I am deeply grateful for the skills and experiences I have gained through The University of Texas School of Architecture. I am excited to embrace the uncertainty and possibilities ahead!