Design major searches far for inspiration

Lilie Price, front left, and her 2018 RARE teammates explore a fallen tree during their recent expedition to the Amazonian jungle.

Lilie Price is willing to go far for experiences that will help in her pursuit of becoming a designer in the hospitality industry. 

Price joined the May 2018 Radford Amazonian Research Expedition (RARE) to add value to her classroom work. Originally from Pleasant Garden, North Carolina, and a junior design major, Price has big dreams that ultimately led to this transformative trip to the Amazon.

Price is part of the interior design program that develops entry-level competencies for its students who aspire to positions in institutional, corporate, hospitality, retail and residential design by enhancing their creativity and decision-making on behalf of clients’ functional, technical, legal and business concerns.

Price spent three weeks with 13 other students from a variety of academic disciplines on the annual three-week trip deep into the lowland tropical rainforest of Peru at the base of the Andean Mountains.

The team executed individual research projects, engaged with local villagers, navigated the Las Piedras River, explored the jungle and trekked to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain while applying their academic experiences to exploring and connecting with an exotic part of the world.

“It was an experience I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else,” Price said. “Through a designer’s eyes, the jungle is certainly functional and has a beautiful aesthetic.”

Price, right, and a colleague dig the mud from the banks of the Las Piedras River with which she refinished the Tamandua Research Station's oven.

Part of Price’s work going into the trip was to plan and then build a new oven for the Tamandua Research Station at which the RARE team based its operations. As plans often do, her plan changed. She refurbished the oven instead.

With a machete and determination, Price hewed out the existing oven from the inside to increase its capacity. She also dredged and hauled mud from the Las Piedras River and caked it on to strengthen the oven walls. Thus, she ensured that the station’s chef, Roy Riquelme, would have the means necessary to continue preparing his signature indigenous fare.

Price had the opportunity to assist her roommate, a biology major, with sampliing for the presence of Leishmaniasis in the water. During the experience, she also applied her developing design eye to studying the station’s utilization of space. She is now preparing a 3D rendering of the station to be used for future planning and promotional purposes.

“Scientists are notoriously functional, so most of the space was devoted to the research that is done,” Price said. “Beyond that, it was mostly open space with hammocks – very minimalist. It served our needs and felt safe with a lot of open air, but little privacy. It was hardly what I would call “glamping.”  The jungle surrounding the station, though, was amazing.”

As she completes her degree and the challenging interior design program, Price said she hopes to contribute both more beauty and better function to the world we live in.

The newly-expanded oven, was refurbished by Price to have a bigger fire capacity.

"As I design spaces, I want to combine them in ways that will affect humans,” Price said. “I saw so much in the jungle that new possibilities opened up for me.”

The jungle’s natural function and beauty that Price admired is threatened by deforestation, caused by the logging of the area's rain forest. This has led to an impact on the environment that saddened her: homeless macaws. It also lead to a heightened awareness about her role in supporting the environment moving forward.

“There was a lot of serious conversation about how we can help the jungle and those who live there as they face the changes that are affecting them,” said Price. “I like my First World comforts, but I see things differently now. I have a deeper understanding of sustainability and the delicacy of the environment.”

Encouraging students like Price on their individual discovery and pursuit of a unique path toward success and contribution to their communities is central to Radford University’s core mission.  For Price, that mission is advancing toward accomplishment.

Price shared the impact of her RARE experience at an recent conference in North Carolina when she and Assistant Professor of Interior Design and Fashion Laura Kimball made a presentation on out-of-classroom learning. Price will also be part of the upcoming RARE Festival in support of the program’s next expedition and present a poster at the Office of Undergraduate Research Forum.

“I have had so many opportunities here at Radford that have helped me grow,” Price said. “I came here looking to meet new people and have new experiences. Radford was a great choice.”

Mar 6, 2019
Don Bowman
(540). 831-5182