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BID Student Emily Zhang Wins ARIDO’s $500 Art Appreciation Scholarship


May 27, 2021

First-year Bachelor of Interior Design student Emily (Chi) Zhang was recently awarded with a $500 Art Appreciation Scholarship from the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO)

Presented in partnership with Doner-Turrin Inc., the award promotes artwork appreciation within the Interior Design process and application. Students apply by submitting an application about a piece of art of their choice and its placement in a specific space.

For her scholarship submission, Zhang, who is also pursuing a degree in Architectural Studies, chose to highlight a mural painted by Los Angeles-based artist Jessalyn Brooks in Avian Apartment – a refurbished luxury private apartment in Brisbane designed by interior architect Alicia Holgar.

“It was actually a design I saw last year in a design magazine I came across and I thought was really special,” recalled Zhang. 

“As I wrote in my application, the focus is The Avians – an art mural on the wall of the apartment. It really caught my eye the first time I came across it and it kind of got stuck in my head. So, when I came across this application for the ARIDO Art Appreciation Scholarship, it all kinda clicked.” 

In her scholarship submission, Zhang discusses how the mural “enhances and reiterates the thematic harmony and fluidity expressed” in the apartment’s interior design as a whole.

The mural features abstract portrayals of bird-like human figures who, Zhang noted, “seem to be drifting in the winds, enjoying a sense of freedom and peace.” 

“They are painted in a freeform and simplistic manner, using organic and enclosed shapes to symbolize wholesomeness,” she wrote in her ARIDO submission. 

“Unrealistic to human proportion, the expressive linework harmonizes with the curvaceous nature of the furniture, as well as the rest of the interior. Each of these figures is unique and seems to be touching each other, expressing the diversity and interconnectedness of nature.”

The painting, she continues, is metaphoric of the iconic Harry Seidler building the apartment is located within, which “overlooks the city line above the air, resembling a bird.”

“The painting is also a substantial component that frames the dining space. The oak wood dining table acts like the branches of a tree — perhaps from where the birds took off — and the pendant light that hangs from above is like a cloud that floats above the birds,” she said. 

“These multiple spatial elements of the furniture, the lighting fixtures, and the painting collaborate to form another three-dimensional scenery — the scenery of interior space.”  

Lauding her submission as “very thoughtful” and “detailed,” Rachel Doner-Turrin of Doner-Turrin Inc. – the art consultancy that sponsors the ARIDO scholarship – awarded the Art Appreciation’s $500 first-place award to Zhang. 

“I was really surprised and I felt really taken aback because I did not expect to win,” Zhang said of learning she’d won. 

Born in China and raised in Toronto, Zhang said her long-term goals following her graduation from Yorkville University’s Bachelor of Interior Design in 2023 include the pursuit of her Master’s degree – preferably somewhere overseas. 

“I would love to maybe go to Europe to travel and see the world and continue my studies towards becoming an interior designer at the same time,” she said. 

“I see myself becoming a residential designer because I’ve always felt very passionate about designing homes for people. I feel it’s a very heartwarming job that we, as designers, can do for families and for people.”