As recipients of this year’s Eric Cohler Internship and Travel Awards, Ethan Leon ’19 and Ying Ying “Sarita” Sun ’19 have fully-funded study abroad opportunities and internships at Eric Cohler Design, Inc. in New York City and locations abroad. The annual award is made possible by gifts from acclaimed interior designer Eric Cohler ’81 to support students interested in art and/or design.
“Working at Eric Cohler Design, getting advice from Mr. Cohler himself and learning more about interior design will help me decide if that’s my professional future or if I want to branch out into a different design field,” says Leon, who is studying the design of queer spaces in Tel Aviv before joining Cohler later this summer. “Being able to look in-depth at the interiors of queer spaces to see how they operate was an opportunity that I would not get anywhere else, so I knew I had to apply.”
An architectural studies major, Leon is pairing his interest in design and psychology to create socially conscious spaces. Last summer, Leon interned for Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture Gabrielle D’Angelo, during which he collaborated with Geneva High School students on a community design project, helped them submit material for competition and develop plans for a potential future memorial site.
“I have started thinking of ways I can help people through design, and more specifically, help people through room construction and configuration. Working with Mr. Cohler will provide me with some of the building blocks that are necessary to start making my dream of designing spaces to help people emotionally and mentally turn into a reality,” says Leon, a c0-founder of the Queer People of Color House on campus.
Meanwhile, Sun began interning with Cohler in New York City in August and will study abroad this winter in Japan, where she will visit the country’s leading design studios to learn about Japanese aesthetics and design.
“I am looking forward to having a new cultural experience at Eric Cohler Design that relates so closely with my future goals,” says Sun, an architectural studies major who previously interned in China with the City of Shanghai’s urban planning division with focus on aesthetics and quality of life. “I strongly believe that designs should consider the needs of people and humanity, which I would love to explore more during my internship and experiences in Japan.”
On campus, Sun interned with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning this spring conducting research on respite care throughout the Rochester area. She is a member of Campus Greens and Theta Phi Alpha, as well as a volunteer with Days of Service and Geneva literacy programs.
Established in 1991, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., specializes in interior design and restoration. Cohler has been dubbed the “Mixmaster” by magazine editors for using classical elements juxtaposed with contemporary materials for a jolt of unusual color or texture. His projects have included houses, apartments and commercial spaces across the United States, Europe and the Caribbean, including the dining room in the Obama White House.
Eric Cohler earned his B.A. in English and art history from Hobart. 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. He is an adjunct professor of art and architecture at HWS, and was given the Hobart Medal of Excellence, the Alumni Association’s highest honor, in 2016. For more information on Cohler visit his Life of Consequence profile.