Eileen Daly Vitelli ’10 has been awarded the 2011 Joel Polsky Academic Achievement Award by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation. The $1,000 award is given annually to recognize an outstanding undergraduate or graduate student’s interior design research or thesis project.
Vitelli won for her master’s thesis entitled Breaking Bread and Making Dough: the Communal Table. The thesis explored guest behavior and spending at communal tables (seating two or more unrelated parties) in full-service restaurants – comparing them with conventional, separate tables within the same establishment.
She found that diners did not fill all of the available seats at communal tables, often sitting at them last and leaving space between parties. Tables were primarily used by large single parties, and were thus more symbolic than functional in terms of community building. Vitelli also found that critical design factors came into play, including “an appropriate match of overall concept and diner agenda, the table’s location within the space, supporting architectural elements, lighting, space provided per person, and effective marketing by the service staff.” She adds, “Work on the thesis ignited my fascination with interior design research and hospitality design, which is further fueled by my extensive work abroad.”
A senior interior designer with the U.S. Department of State, Vitelli has more than 10 years of experience designing residential and mixed-use interiors at a wide variety of international locations. She has managed a portfolio of nearly 100 homes of U.S. Ambassadors and other high-level diplomats in more than 40 countries, and she currently oversees interiors for all new staff housing on Embassy compounds worldwide. Vitellil is also developing the brand standards for future residential projects and directing the design of a custom furniture line.
In addition to her master’s from Marymount University, she holds a BFA in Technical Theater from Syracuse University and began her design career as a properties and set designer for professional theater companies in Pennsylvania and metropolitan Washington, DC. Vitelli is now gaining expertise in sustainability and is a LEED Green Associate.
Photo Credit: Melissa Blackall Photography