NYIT designers nab prestigious Donghia awards

Sit in: Lana Kravtchenko's "Urban Sanctuary" was one of two NYIT entries winning prestigious Angelo Donghia Foundation awards this year.

Two innovative NYIT students spent the summer redesigning their futures after landing prestigious Angelo Donghia Foundation scholarships.

John Sanchez and Lana Kravtchenko, both entering their fourth year at the NYIT School of Architecture and Design, will each receive up to $30,000 for tuition and living expenses for their final year of study.

Sanchez was awarded for his concept design of a new staircase for the Vennesla Library and Culture House in Norway, while Kravtchenko’s winning “Urban Sanctuary” submission was based on a seating-design project developed in an NYIT Design Studio course.

Established in 2002 by the Pennsylvania-born, internationally renowned interior designer, the Angelo Donghia Foundation annually supports 15 talented students entering their final year of study in accredited interior design programs. Sanchez and Kravtchenko’s awards mark the fifth time in six years that NYIT students have earned the super-competitive honor – and the first time multiple NYIT nominees have brought it home.

That’s an “amazing” accomplishment, according to Associate Professor Martha Siegel, who chairs NYIT’s Department of Interior Design from the institute’s Old Westbury campus.

“That means our two are among the top design students in the country,” Siegel said in a statement, noting the scholarships give “students with great potential” a “big boost at a very critical time in their academic development.”

“It allows them to focus on their studies,” the professor said. “And gives them time to really work on their thesis.”

Stairway to heaven: Winning the $30,000 scholarship is a real load off, according to Sanchez.

Stairway to heaven: Winning the $30,000 scholarship is a real load off, according to Sanchez.

Sanchez’s submission – a dynamic design featuring a multidirectional stairway and a roof of wooden “ribs” that become seating and shelves as they descend to the floor – grew out of a joint project with Siegel. His attempts to “capture emotion through space” and “shape lives,” as he said in his Donghia Foundation submission essay, struck a chord with scholarship judges.

“To win this prize is amazing,” Sanchez said. “I can’t tell you the freedom and peace of mind it gives me to be able to put more energy toward my work and studies.”

Inspired by the natural design of turtle shells and by wabi-sabi – a Japanese worldview centered on the acceptance of imperfection – Kravtchenko designed seating for six using “modular seating construction for maximum flexibility and interaction,” according to her Donghia Foundation proposal.

The final design creates “a nurturing environment where people can adjust, communicate and grow together,” the designer said.