Lauren Schwarzenberg ’12 recently returned from a one-of-a-kind tour of Scandinavia, studying the region’s unique insight into sustainable and progressive design. This exceptional opportunity was afforded to Schwarzenberg through the Eric Cohler Internship and Travel Award.
Supported by gifts from Eric Cohler ’81, the annual award supports one student interested in design and/or the arts through internship and study abroad experiences. Through off-campus study, recipients of the award gain valuable insight into the world of architecture and a look at the wide range of career opportunities available.
Schwarzenberg, who earned bachelor’s degrees in both architectural studies and studio art, recently completed her internship with Eric Cohler Design, Inc., where she spent two weeks studying at Cohler’s New York City-based firm. During the internship, Schwarzenberg worked with many of the company’s top designers, assisting on current projects and designing lighting for the Eric Cohler custom line at Circa Lighting.
“The experience was incredibly rewarding; I really enjoyed seeing how a professional design firm operates with projects, products, and cliental,” says Schwarzenberg. “After spending time there, I better know what kind of firm I would like to work at in the future, as well as the projects I hope to spend time on.”
Although she found her interior design projects exciting – selecting fabrics and managing orders -it was designing lighting, furniture, and tile patterns that captured Schwarzenberg’s attention.
Prior to her experience in Cohler’s offices, Schwarzenberg completed a 10-day tour of Scandinavia as part of her internship. Traveling from Stockholm to Copenhagen and then on to Rotterdam, Schwarzenberg immersed herself in the region’s unique aesthetic, using her journal and sketchbook to analyze humanitarian and industrial design.
“The award allowed me to truly interact with designers, products, and systems in a way I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” explains Schwarzenberg, who opted for explore Scandinavia because of its commitment to sustainable and progressive design. “The individuals I met with were open and genuine, and I wouldn’t have gotten the same experience by e-mailing with them or merely researching their projects online.”
At Stockholm-based firm LundbergDesign, Schwarzenberg found herself in a particularly unique situation, discussing the precedence and morals behind specific projects – then observing them in person, noting how each project fits into its environment and what the advantages – and disadvantages – are for that project’s function.
“The firm’s CEO Olle Lundberg spent time explaining his insight on and process of design in Copenhagen, where I was able to see the effect society has on the evolution of design,” recalls Schwarzenberg.
Perhaps the most important lesson Schwarzenberg took away from her experience was how to better understand and create a good design. “Old systems can be used in a new way,” she says. “Learning and understanding that helped shape my honors project, which was designing an educational game.”
Schwarzenberg intends to pursue a career designing for education. Her journey has begun with an internship with the International Design Clinic, where she is analyzing the successes and flaws of the clinic’s most recent curricular design project.
Following the internship, she will undertake the one-year commitment of volunteering with City Year. Schwarzenberg will teach elementary students in Philadelphia with the education-focused, nonprofit organization, after which Schwarzenberg will be attending Philadelphia University to pursue a masters in industrial design.
During her time at the Colleges, Schwarzenberg was a member of the Christian Fellowship, the Campus Peer Ministry and the Architecture Society. She also served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at West Street School and at the Boys and Girls Club in Geneva.
Cohler earned his B.A. in English and art history from Hobart in 1981. He holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from the Columbia University School of Architecture and Urban Design, and a certificate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
In the photo above, is Eric Cohler’81 with Lauren Schwarzenberg ’12 in his New York City studio.